The Living Ghost

August 22, 2015 at 5:20 pm (6 Heads, Living Ghost) (, , , , )

The Living Ghost – 1942 – United States

When a rich banker disappears, the banker’s foxy secretary goads retired private eye Nick Trayne into investigating. The next day, the banker reappears, seemingly mesmerized. In actuality, he has a “paralyzed cerebral cortex”, an incurable condition induced by a concoction of chemicals. Nick must deduce which of the banker’s friends or family members cruelly inflicted the brain damage.

The Living Ghost (a.k.a. A Walking Nightmare) is a satisfying dose of mystery and comedy. Nick Trayne is an amiable smooth-talking wise guy, and his sassy girlfriend is equally likable. When he first appears, Nick works as a turban-wearing “sympathetic ear” for hire. He chats congenially with a man who speaks gibberish and has an imaginary dog. As a detective, Nick is amusingly impertinent while questioning his suspects.

Despite its implausible premise, The Living Ghost functions well as a mystery. Many scenes involve Nick Trayne interrogating people, but the snappy dialogue stays entertaining. Brisk pacing overcomes any shortcomings in plotting and characterization. The ending is logical too.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. In the DVD version I watched, the film paused to announce “On moment please while we change reels.” How charmingly quaint!

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