Topper Returns (1941)

Genres - Comedy, Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Farce  |   Release Date - Mar 21, 1941 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

By the time this third entry in the Topper series came around, the characters and basic situation had become well enough established that a slight change of pace was needed, so Topper Returns goes the "old dark house" route -- with delightful results. True, Returns doesn't have the same charm as the original, largely because the inimitable Cary Grant is missing, and it's neither as fresh nor as surprising as the first; but Returns offers a nice variation on the haunted house theme, and the "find my killer" plot is a nice change of pace for the series. Returns doesn't become so concerned with its plot that it forgets to stint on the laughs, however; indeed, Returns probably contains more moments of sheer laughter than the original. If this sequel is ultimately somewhat less successful, it's because many of those laughs come out of left field, jokes that are tangential to or unsupported by the plot, or that come at the expense of character consistency. Returns also boasts a first-rate cast, with Roland Young and Billie Burke inhabiting the Toppers like a pair of comfortable old shoes and Joan Blondell providing some sassy, wisecracking spice. Carole Landis looks lovely, and the supporting cast of character actors delivers exactly what they're supposed to deliver. Returns is not Topper, but it's an extremely enjoyable little film nevertheless.