Leigh mentioned the possibility of a more comedic film that is due for a remake: the 1935 English-U.S. co-production, The Ghost Goes West. The U.K.’s most successful film of 1936, this enticing cinematic blend of satire, fantasy, ghost story and sweet romance was also a hit in the U.S.
Starring the very talented and handsome Robert Donat in a dual role of 18th century Scottish ghost Murdoch Glourie, a dashing ladies’ man, and his 20th century descendant, a laird dealing with the modern realities of being cash poor and land rich with a large castle demanding expensive upkeep. Enter a wealthy American businessman (Eugene Pallette) and his pretty daughter (Jean Parker) into the picture. A Scottish castle is just what the businessman wants. He just wants it on his estate in sunny Florida. And so the castle is dismantled, stone by stone, and shipped overseas to be reconstructed.
A French poster for the film. I liked the design. And everything sounds better in French, mais oui?
And guess who also goes along? That’s right, the ghost, who, after dishonoring the family name, was cursed by a disgruntled father to forever haunt the ancestral castle–no matter where in the world it stands–until that wrong can be righted. Murdoch experiences no lack of culture shock in the land of palm trees and rampant materialism.
The film has much to recommend it– a charming and witty script, the always outstanding cinematography of Jack Cardiff (whose exquisite color work can be seen in Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes), excellent direction by Rene Clair, and delightful performances by Donat and frog-voiced Pallette in particular.
And it offers a handsome man–in a kilt. We know Richard can do a Scottish accent from the RH audiobooks. We know he truly rocks a kilt from that one photo shoot. We know he can nail a flirtatious ladies’ man–Lee “Speedo” Preston, anyone? We know he’s got the acting chops to play two roles in the same film. We know he needs to do something with a little humor in it for a change. So, Mr. A, how about something with comedy and romance and fantasy–and kilts!!