Cast & Crew
Arising from their graves in the Summerfield cemetery, the ghosts of Jonathan Q. Gildersleeve and Randolph Q. Gildersleeve spot a present-day newspaper headline announcing the candidacy of their relative, Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, for the post of police commissioner. The two apparitions decide to boost their relative's campaign by having him expose the diabolical experiments being conducted by Dr. John Wells and his assistant, Henry Lennox. To lead Gildy to the deserted house in which Wells is conducting his experiments, the ghosts free the scientist's gorilla and take him to Gildy's house. In addition to his long-departed relatives, Gildy's campaign is also supported by love-sick newspaper columnist Harriet Morgan and Leroy Forrester, Gildy's nephew, who plans to woo the animal-lover vote by dressing up as a gorilla. After Gildy vetoes his nephew's scheme, the escaped gorilla enters the Gildersleeve kitchen and begins to feast, and Gildy thinks that the animal is his hungry nephew until he encounters the boy in the hallway. When Gildy returns to the kitchen with Leroy, his niece, Margie Forrester, his housekeeper, Birdie and his friend, pharmacist J. W. Peavy, the beast has gone. Gildy insists on notifying the police about his uninvited visitor, but his story is discounted as a publicity stunt by Haley, the police commissioner and Gildy's opponent. Determined to prove the animal's existence, Gildy convinces Peavy to act as a decoy by dressing in Leroy's gorilla costume. The two men follow the animal's tracks to the deserted house, and as Peavy enters the building to lure the gorilla, Gildy hides behind a post. When Gildy is approached by the real animal, he thinks it is Peavy, and consequently, when Peavy reappears, he mistakes him for the gorilla and knocks him unconscious. Alerted by the commotion outside, Wells and Lennox come out of the house and scoff at Gildy's tale of a stray gorilla. To prove his point, the doctor pulls the mask from Peavy's head, and Gildy then insists that the scientist examine his injured friend. Wells reluctantly invites them into the house, and as he examines Peavy, Marie, the maid, warns Gildy of evil doings. To discredit Gildy and thus keep his experiments secret, Wells confides to Peavy that he thinks his friend is demented. While waiting for Peavy, Gildy sees the gorilla and takes refuge in the bathroom. The beast follows him, but disappears through a secret panel. As Gildy hides in the shower, former chorus girl Terry Vance, the subject of Wells's invisibility experiments, enters the bathroom and disappears. Becoming visible once again, Terry demands a kiss from Gildy, and when he refuses, she chases him under the bed. Gildy's calls for help bring Peavy running to the bedroom, but before he enters, Terry becomes invisible. When Gildy raves about an invisible woman assaulting him, Peavy starts to believe the doctor's diagnosis. Soon after, Harriet, Leroy, Margie, Birdie, Haley and Haley's chauffeur, Chauncey, arrive at the house in search of Gildy. When a violent rainstorm forces them to spend the night, Wells assigns Terry the task of making Gildy look insane. As the others sleep, Gildy, accompanied by Chauncey, searches for the secret panel. The panel opens into a passageway, where they encounter the gorilla. After locking the animal in a cell, Gildy tells Chancey to stand guard while he goes for help. After Gildy leaves, Terry, pretending to be a ghost, threatens to haunt Chauncey unless he denies seeing the gorilla. She then frees the beast, and when Gildy returns with the others, he finds the cell empty, causing Haley to demand that he withdraw from the election. Later, Leroy visits his uncle and suggests that he don the ape costume to lure the real gorilla. Gildy follows his nephew's advice, and after Chauncey alerts Haley about Gildy's disguise, the real gorilla enters Haley's room and is mistaken for Gildy. When the beast becomes agitated, Haley handcuffs him to Chauncey and tells him to wait in the car. After Chauncey tries to take the head off Gildy's "costume", however, he realizes that he is handcuffed to the real beast, which then snaps off the handcuffs and kidnaps Terry. To rescue her, Gildy, still wearing his costume, chases the gorilla into the woods and offers it a bunch of bananas. Back at the house, Marie confesses all, sending the others into the woods in search of Gildy. When they find the gorilla embracing Gildy, they all realize that he has been telling the truth.
Harry Clay Reporter
Albert S. D'agostino
Robert E. Kent
Vernon L. Walker
Gildersleeve's Ghost -
As the movie begins, a newspaper headline trumpeting Gildersleeve as a candidate for Police Commissioner tumbles, windblown, through a cemetery where two of Gildersleeve's ancestors, Jonathan Q. and Randolph Q. (both played by Peary), rise from the grave and decide to help Gildersleeve win (this is a movie that absolutely demands an unwavering suspension of disbelief). Their plan? Go to the lair of a mad scientist who has been testing invisibility potions on a showgirl and a gorilla, release the gorilla, lead it to Gildersleeve's house, wait for Gildersleeve to trace the gorilla back to the mad scientist, expose him, become a hero to all those people insisting invisibility potions shouldn't be tested on showgirls and gorillas, and naturally glide to electoral victory. Believe it or not, this isn't even the silliest plot device used in the movie. It probably goes without saying, though we'll say it anyway, that back at Gildersleeve's house, his nephew Leroy happened to pick tonight to wear a gorilla costume around the house. It just so happens that Gildersleeve's orphaned niece and nephew, who live under the care of Gildersleeve, have decided to help him win by appealing to animal lovers. Mistaken identities between gorilla costume and real gorilla are in store as well as a trip by everyone, including the kids, the current Police Commissioner, the maid, the chauffeur, and, of course, the invisible showgirl and gorilla, to the decaying, foreboding mansion of the mad scientist. And this is only the setup for the rest of the movie where the silliness somehow gets amplified beyond even two ghosts deciding that setting loose a gorilla is the best way to get someone elected.
Playing the real Police Commissioner's chauffeur, Chauncey, is the amazing and talented Nick Stewart, going by Nicodemus Stewart here, who displays such precise and brilliant comic timing that every second he's on the screen makes it that much harder to accept it when he's not. Stewart was most famous as Lightnin' on the infamous TV series Amos and Andy and spent the majority of his career playing stereotypical characters that were far beneath his talents. In 1950, he and his wife, Edna, founded the Los Angeles Ebony Showcase Theater, a place where black actors could take on the great roles of the theater instead of being relegated to the demeaning roles Hollywood offered them.
Others in the cast include Marion Martin as the showgirl who goes in and out of invisibility in front of Gildersleeve and Chauncey, making both men think they're crazy. Starting out her career as an actual showgirl, and winding up in The Ziegfeld Follies, playing the part of one came naturally and ended up being her typecasting fate for the rest of her career (albeit with some great legends, including The Marx Brothers). She retired early, in 1951, when it was clear Hollywood had no intention of ever using her for anything else.
The star of the show, Harold Peary, does superbly as always as Gildersleeve. Once the Gildersleeve gravy train ended, there wasn't much choice for Peary as to where to get off other than small parts in television but he made a career of it. Until he retired in 1979, he appeared in dozens of television shows, often multiple times a year.
Directing honors go to Gordon Douglas, the man who helmed each Gildersleeve's movie. He cut his teeth on shorts for Hal Roach in the thirties, both as a writer and director for the Little Rascals series so presiding over the lunacy of a Gildersleeve's movie was right up his alley. Coming in at just over an hour, Gildersleeve's Ghost manages to pack in a lot of plot, even more silliness, and the talents of Harold Peary and Nick Stewart all in one place. Not bad for 63 minutes, even if Gildersleeve's campaign doesn't stand a ghost of a chance.
by Greg Ferrara
Gildersleeve's Ghost -
The working title of this film was Gildersleeve, Detective. Margie Stewart replaced Margaret Landry as Gildersleeve's niece, "Margie Forrester" in this picture, which was also the last in the "Gildersleeve" series. For additional information on the series, please consult the Series Index and see the entry below for The Great Gildersleeve.