Topper Returns (1941)

On March 21, 1941, United Artists released the third Topper film, Topper Returns (1941).  Roland Young plays Cosmo Topper, a middle aged businessman with the unique gift of seeing ghosts stuck in this world.  This film is set in a large country home.

The film begins with Gail Richards, played by Joan Blondell, and Ann Carrington, played by Carole Landis, traveling to Ann’s country home.  Their taxi driver Bob, played by Dennis O’Keefe, has an accident.

Cosmo Topper and his chauffer Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, playing himself, drive by and end up giving the girls a ride to the Carrington Mansion.  The Carrington home is close to Cosmo Topper’s home.

Everyone seems happy that Ann Carrington has come home.  After being shown to their rooms, Gail and Ann decide to switch rooms.  Gail grew up in humble circumstances.  Ann wants her friend to experience luxury and lets Gail have her palatial bedroom.


Roland Young from the Public Domain

However, it quickly becomes evident that not everyone is happy to have Ann home, when Gail is mistakenly murdered while closing a window.  Gail’s ghost travels next door and contacts Cosmo Topper.  Gail realizes she is trapped on Earth until she can solve her own murder.

Cosmo reluctantly agrees to help Gail.  When he summons Eddie to drive them to the Carrington home, he is even more reluctant.  Eventually, Eddie returns to the Topper home declaring he is going “back to work for Mr. (Jack) Benny”.

Cosmo Topper is quickly implicated in the murder.  Topper must help Gail solve her murder or be tried for it himself.  Besides a household full of suspects, Topper must also deal with the taxi driver and a bumbling detective played by veteran character actor Donald MacBride.

Roland Young and Joan Blondell stole the show and rightly received top billing.  Carole Landis received third billing and primarily plays the damsel in distress for taxi driver Bob to rescue.  Only 22-years-old at the time, Landis would act in 59 films over a 12-year career.

While film critics classify the film as a comedy-mystery, it has more comedy than mystery.  Clearly a feature film, Topper Returns runs about 90 minutes.  What do you think of the film?  You can leave a comment in the section below.

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