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Roy Del Ruth’s Topper Returns, is the final of two sequels to Topper. The original starred Cary Grant & Constance Bennett as ghosts of the Kerby’s who comically haunt rich bank president Cosmo Topper, played by Roland Young. In Topper Returns, Young again reprises his Supporting Actor Oscar nominated performance from the original – this time to help Gail Richards, portrayed by the gorgeous Oscar nominee Joan Blondell, find out who murdered her & why. Topper’s staying power is amazing. In addition to the original three movies, Topper was remade for TV in 1979, it spawned a TV series from ’53-’55, and a revised version of Topper Returns based on the characters in Topper was made into a TV short in 1973. The Constance Bennett character in that piece was played by Stephanie Powers who will grace the stage here in Connecticut at the Bushnell from May 7-12 as Tallulah Bankhead in LOOPED.
The audio & visual special effects in Roy Del Ruth’s Topper Returns are excellent and stunning for the time, earning sound engineer Elmer Raguse 2 Oscar nominations in 1942 at the 14th Academy Awards: For Sound Recording and Special Effects (for sound effects, and shared with Roy Seawright for visual effects). Irrespective of the Oscar nominations, Raguse was not credited on the motion picture. He was nominated for 6 other Oscars including Sound Recording for Topper, also uncredited.
Other great performances in the movie include Oscar Nominee Billie Burke (Glinda, the Good Witch of the North) as the ditzy Mrs. Topper, Donald MacBride as Sgt. Roberts, and Dennis O’Keefe as Bob the Taxi Driver. But for my money, the best supporting performance is turned in by Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson, Jack Benny’s sidekick – you guys remember: [In Jack Benny’s voice] “Oh Rochester!” [in Rochester’s voice] “Yes Mr. Benny?” – who casually references his old boss in the film. He’s just great! I think you’ll agree. We can discuss what you think of him & the other aspects of this delightful comedy upon its conclusion, so stick around if you can. Oh, by the way, while best known for his role as Rochester, Anderson was in over 60 feature films including this little piece about the impact of the Civil War on the South called Gone With the Wind. One other noteworthy performance, Carole Landis plays Ann Carrington, who committed suicide by overdose on 7/5/48 at just 29 years of age, after her torrid affair with married Rex Harrison, who you recall won the Best Actor Oscar in 1965 for his role as Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, ended.
Just click on the link below to watch Topper Returns. It’s well worth the 90 minutes. 3 Stars!