Ghosts on the Loose
For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.
Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.
If you want a little scary movie-going experience mixed with a lot of comedy, you need look no further than the 1943 tongue-in-cheek spooktacular, Ghosts on the Loose.
The film features an eclectic mix of movie stars from the 1940s.
The East Side Kids was popular with many “tweens” in this area who would regularly flock to the theaters on Saturday afternoons during this decade to see the entertaining group of youngsters work their way in and out of quirky adventures. The Kids, who came from the poor side of the tracks, starred in 21 films between 1940 and 1946 and “Ghosts” premiered at the height of the young actors’ popularity.
To play the villain, Co-Producer Jack Dietz made the wise decision to get perennial scaremaster Bela Lugosi for the part. Lugosi made such a perfect antagonist while fitting in nicely with the light-heartedness of the film, that he reunited with the East Side Kids for several other movies over the next few years.
For the role of Betty the bride, the producers also struck gold by asking Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer if they could “borrow” an actress and received a then-unknown actress by the name of Ava Gardner. Gardner, (The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Night of the Iguana) of course, would go on to star in dozens of films over the next several decades and received multiple Academy Award nominations throughout her career.
Originally called Ghosts in the Night, the production got off to a rocky start as days before shooting Dietz was convicted of tax evasion. Co-Producer Sam Katzman, who was the regular producer for all of the “East Side Kids” movies, took over the full reins of the project and immediately changed the film’s title.
The movie starts off with one of its funniest bits as the “Kids” are preparing for a wedding. Among the early film hijinx includes the gang trying, but humorously failing, to rehearse the often used “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes” while also taking other “unique” approaches to have traditional wedding elements ready for the big day.
The film dips into more serious territories as the group tries to fix up what they believe will be the happy couple’s new home–not realizing it’s a “haunted” house that is actually occupied by Nazi propagandists.
Lots of light-hearted moments ensue as the “Ghosts” (aka the Nazis) try to scare the kids out of the house, only to have the youngsters repel every effort to be scared away and eventually to teach their adversaries a lesson. (The “Ghost in the Mirror” skit is my personal favorite!)
While not one of the highest-grossing films overall in 1943, it did mark one of the biggest highlights during the “Kids’” popular run in films and is a frequent favorite during the month of October for film fanatics anxious to experience some Holloween-based storylines while enjoying good humor and not getting overly spooked!.
Be on the lookout for Ghosts On The Loose on ATVN this Friday at 9:30pm (or set your DVR, if you’re afraid to watch it later in the evening).
To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.