April 8, 2019  (Web Review)

Topper Takes a Trip

MVD, 84 min., not rated, Blu-ray: $29.99

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

This is the second of three comedies produced by Hal Roach between 1937 and 1941 about Cosmo Topper, a refined gent who is visited by ghosts. The 1938 lighthearted romp, based on a 1932 novel in the Topper series by Thorne Smith, begins by recapping its predecessor’s plot, which saw bewildered Cosmo haunted—and loosened up—by the spirits of socialite couple George and Marian Kirby (Cary Grant and Constance Bennett), who died in a crash in the car Cosmo has purchased. George is absent in this outing (an opening credit thanks Grant for permission to use footage of him from the first film), but is effectively replaced by Skippy, a spectral pooch. The dog and Marian accompany Cosmo to the French Riviera to help patch up his marriage (to the eternally scatterbrained Billie Burke). Mrs. Topper is being pressured to divorce Cosmo on the basis of his supposed dalliance with another woman (Marian!) by a false friend who hopes to benefit from the settlement and tries to hook her up with a money-hungry French nobleman to seal the deal. The movie is silly fun, despite a few glitches in the now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t effects popularized in films like The Invisible Man, and Young happily eschews his usual stuffy persona to show off his skill as a physical comedian. Recommended. (F. Swietek)