Release year: 1941
Director: Roy Del Ruth
Screenwriter: Jonathan Latimer, Gordon Douglas, Thorne Smith (inspired by the novels by)
Starring: Roland Young, Joan Blondell, Carole Landis, Billie Burke, Dennis O’Keefe, Patsy Kelly, Eddie Anderson, Donald MacBride
Ratings: 2 Oscar nominations: Best Sound, Best Special Effects
As Gail (Blondell) follows her best friend, the young heiress Ann (Landis) on a trip home to visit her ailing father, she is killed as she is mistaken for Ann. Eager to get justice and find the killer, her ghost contacts Cosmo Topper (Young) who lives next door to the mansion. Topper agrees to help and drags his reluctant driver (Anderson) along with him. What they find is house full of secrets and in their heels is Topper’s jealous wife (Burke) and her maid (Kelly).
The third and final entry in the series of supernatural comedies starring Roland Young has poor Cosmo Topper who can’t seem to get rid of interfering ghosts. Young (The Philadelphia Story, 1940) and Burke (The Wizard of Oz, 1939) return as Mr. and Mrs. Topper, but where Topper (1937) had Cary grant and Constance Bennett as the ghosts and the sequel Topper Takes a trip (1938) saw Bennett return in her role as ghost, this, the last entry, sports a brand new ghost in the charming form of Blondell (Desk Set, 1957). Free-spirited and fun-loving, her ghost is almost tormenting poor Topper as she appears and disappears, demands and teases. The special friendship developing between the two is one of the most charming assets of the movie but the most fun part is the house full of secret doorways and hidden rooms as well as the wonderful expressive reactions of Anderson (It’s a Mad Mad Mad World, 1963). More comedy farce than mystery, Topper Returns is a delightful and fun little movie that will have you laughing out loud at several moments.
In the film, Eddie (played by Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson) says that he’s going back to “Mr. Benny”, an in-joke reference to the fact that Anderson played Rochester, the valet, on Jack Benny‘s radio program and later TV show.
A Tv-series with the character Topper premiered in 1953 and ran for two seasons. There is also a 1979 TV remake of the first movie in the series.
Both Topper and Topper Takes a Trip was based on novels by Thorne Smith. Topper returns is the only not based on a novel but merely using the characters.