Robert Morley and Felix Aylmer are the titular ghosts in this British comedy. They play, respectively, General ‘Jumbo’ Burlap, and Colonel ‘Bulldog’ Kelsoe, two 18th century soldiers, who accidentally kill themselves in the house they have taken on after retirement. As they were meant to be entertaining Queen Anne prior to their untimely deaths, they are sentenced in the afterlife to remain as ghosts, haunting the house, until a reigning monarch visits…and as the years roll on, and the house is taken on by a variety of tenants, the chances of that happening look ever less likely.
I can’t deny that the plot of this film is pretty thin, and very ludicrous. However, it really doesn’t matter, because it’s just so entertaining! Morley and Aylmer are wonderful as the hapless soldiers (who are just as hapless in their afterlife). The supporting cast are fine on the whole, although Yvonne Arnaud particularly shines as the manageress of a Bordello house.
Over the years (the film ends during World War 2), as well as being used as the aforementioned Bordello, the property is also a home to an Indian Rajah, the home of the Rex T. Farnum circus (no prizes for guessing who the name of the circus was inspired by), a wartime hospital, and a soldiers’ club, and it was amusing the see Jumbo and Bulldog grow ever more despairing of ever attracting a member of the Royal Family to visit their former home.
My only niggle with this film was some very dodgy racial stereotypes, particularly in the part where the property is inhabited by an Indian Rajah. The depiction of the Rajah (also played by Robert Morley), and depictions of various other nationalities made me wince. Apart from that however, there were some genuinely funny scenes in this film, and two excellent leads, playing probably the two most unthreatening ghosts of all time, make it worth a watch.
Year of release: 1947
Director: Vernon Sewell
Producer: Louis H. Jackson
Writers: Caryl Brahms (novel ‘No Nightingales), S.J. Simon (novel ‘No Nightingales’), James Seymour
Main cast: Robert Morley, Felix Aylmer, Yvonne Arnaud