Movie Details
Recommendation

The Ghosts of Berkeley Square (1947)

 
 

The Ghostly Odd Couple

Robert Morley and Felix Aylmer in The Ghosts of Berkeley Square (1947)

Over the years we have had various fun ghost movies as we have the deceased in limbo, comically haunting their home in the hope of one day moving on and "The Ghosts of Berkeley Square" is exactly that. Released in 1947 "The Ghosts of Berkeley Square" stars Robert Morley and Felix Aylmer as two 18th century military men who accidentally kill themselves and find themselves stuck in their home in the hope that one day the house will receive a Royal visit so that that can move on from being ghosts. It's a fun idea because what we basically get is events in the lives of these ghosts over two centuries as people come and go, they bicker and scare people and it seems like they will never get a Royal visit. But the trouble is that despite being only 86 minutes it feels drawn out with a need for more speed and snappy humour to make it really entertaining.

As house mates Gen. "Jumbo" Burlap () and Col. H. "Bulldog" Kelsoe (Felix Aylmer - The Master of Ballantrae) learn that not only are they going to be paid a visit by The Queen but also by their enemy who they decide to try and take hostage only to accidentally kill themselves when trying out their booby trap. So starts two centuries of haunting as Jumbo and Bulldog discover that they have to stay as ghosts in their home till it gets a Royal visit. Over the years they bicker and fall out, try and scare off unwelcome residents and occasionally mingle with those they like all the time trying to increase their chances of a Royal visit by making sure the residents have connections.

Robert Morley and Felix Aylmer in The Ghosts of Berkeley Square (1947)

In fairness "The Ghosts of Berkeley Square" is a nice idea for a movie with two old ghostly friends watching times change from their home and trying to manipulate who lives their so that they get a Royal visit. It delivers plenty of amusing ideas from the expected bickering from this ghostly odd couple to finding their home being used by a French Madame as a den of ill repute. And the way it plays out as the decades pass and every time they get close to a Royal visit but something intervenes is amusing.

But here is the problem, despite being just under 90 minutes "The Ghosts of Berkeley Square" is often lethargically slow. Each of the individual events seems drawn out and they lack a sharpness and bite to the humour to really make you laugh. It is still fun but it just lacks that dark wit to make it memorable and great fun. And talking of problems it is worth mentioning that for those who are offended by the naive racism of the past with men with blacked up faces or insulting mimicry of foreign languages will find things in "The Ghosts of Berkeley Square" which whilst originally done in innocence now wrong.

What basically keeps "The Ghosts of Berkeley Square" entertaining even when it feels lethargic is that Robert Morley and Felix Aylmer make an enjoyable ghostly odd couple. They are amusing when they bicker and row but just as amusing when they decide to mingle with their guests, still dressed in their old uniforms in a changing world. It is thanks to Morley and Aylmer that "The Ghosts of Berkeley Square" manages to keep you watching because with lesser actors it would have struggled.

What this all boils down to is that "The Ghosts of Berkeley Square" is pleasantly amusing with some entertaining performances. But for a movie about ghosts it lacks a bite to make it memorable and in the end whilst pleasant and witty it often feels lethargic.

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