Topper Returns

The third and final installment in the "Topper" series (the first two being TOPPER in 1937 and TOPPER TAKES A TRIP in 1939) sees Young, the unassuming family man who has had some bizarre dealings with ghosts, become an amateur detective hot on the trail of a murderer. When Blondell is murdered by mistake by a mysterious hooded killer, her spirit seeks out...read more

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The third and final installment in the "Topper" series (the first two being TOPPER in 1937 and TOPPER TAKES A TRIP in 1939) sees Young, the unassuming family man who has had some bizarre dealings with ghosts, become an amateur detective hot on the trail of a murderer. When Blondell is

murdered by mistake by a mysterious hooded killer, her spirit seeks out Young and begs him to help her find the culprit. It seems that the killer meant to kill Blondell's friend, Landis, but grabbed her by mistake. Blondell surmises that if Young can find the killer, he may save Landis' life.

Young rises to the challenge, but his chauffeur, Anderson, isn't as enthusiastic. The investigation takes them to the creepy old house where Blondell was murdered, and we are treated to the standard series of sliding panels, secret passageways, strange noises, trap doors, and the like before the

killer is uncovered. This is the weakest entry in the series, but the film is still great fun. Cameraman Brodine infuses the visuals with an appropriately sinister style, and the set design is what one might expect from an "old dark house" chiller. Perhaps the only drawback is the now-annoying

bug-eyed, "feets-do-your-duty" humor assigned to Anderson (a classy performer who played Jack Benny's smart-aleck, long-suffering chauffeur on radio, in films, and on television) whenever ghosts are mentioned. Blondell uses her voice more than her body here--she's invisible through much of the

film--and does an acceptable job replacing Constance Bennett who had played ghost Marion Kerby in the first two films. The film earned Oscar nominations for Best Sound and Best Special Effects. From here the "Topper" saga would leave the movie houses and move to television where Leo G. Carroll

would take over as Cosmo Topper in the 1950s. The original film was remade for television in 1979 starring Kate Jackson and Andrew Stevens as the ghostly Kerbys and Jack Warden as Cosmo.