The whimsical Oscar Wilde fantasy yarn The Canterville Ghost is updated to WW2 in this economical but attractively produced MGM filmization. Charles Laughton plays Sir Simon de Canterville, a feckless 17th century British aristocrat who, after proving himself a coward on the field of honor, is walled up alive in his own castle by his unforgiving father (Reginald Owen). Sir Simon's ghost is doomed to haunt the corridors of Canterville Hall until one of his descendants performs a conspicuous act of bravery. 300 years later, the castle is billetted by a platoon of American soldiers-one of whom, Cuffy Williams (Robert Young), is of course a distant relation to Sir Simon. The ghost of Canterville Hall does his best to frighten away the American "intruders", but he's a fairly incompetent spirit, incapable of frightening even the young mistress of the castle, 8-year-old Lady Jessica (Margaret O'Brien). Upon learning of his family legacy, Cuffy begins worrying that he, too, will prove to be a coward when the chips are down, but with the help of the Ghost and the stalwart Lady Jessica, Cuffy is able to summon up his innate courage. Sharp-eyed viewers will spot Peter Lawford in a tiny role as Sir Simon's ill-fated brother, and cult figure Tor Johnson as Simon's fearsome jousting opponent. Though never remade theatrically, The Canterville Ghost resurfaced in TV-movie form 1986 and 1996.
by Hal Erickson synopsis