The Live Ghost – short, USA, 1934

The Live Ghost is a 1934 film starring comedy team Laurel and Hardy.

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One of numerous shorts shot in the 1920s and 30s featuring the comic duo, The Live Ghost is a 20 minute film directed by Charles Rogers and produced by Hal Roach.

It opens with a rough sea captain trying and failing to find a crew for his supposedly haunted ship. Desperate, he enlists the assistant of fish shop employees Stan and Ollie to help him shanghai a crew. Stan goes into a bar and provokes a sailor into chasing him outside, where Ollie bangs him on the head, knocking him out – the captain then takes the unconscious man to his ship.

This trick is repeated several times until things inevitably go wrong when Stan and Ollie change roles – the captain is hit over the head and in revenge, he knocks the pair of them out and they find themselves joining the rest of the reluctant crew. Any talk of a ‘ghost ship’ is stifled by the captain’s threat to twist around the heads of anyone who dares mention the word ‘ghost’.

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Naturally, the shanghaied sailors are none too happy, but as long as they are on the ship, Stan and Ollie have the captain’s protection. Whenever the ship pulls into port, the pair refuse to leave, knowing what will happen to hem if they do. In one port, the captain asks them to keep an eye on a drunken shipmate.

Things rapidly get out of control, and the pair think they have killed the drunken man, tossing the ‘body’ overboard. He wakes up, swims to the shore and  and falls into a trough of whitewash. When the white figure returns to the ship, Stan and Ollie believe him to be a ghost, and panic. Just then, the captain returns, and when they tell him they’ve seen a ghost, he makes good on his threat.

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Not one of the classic Laurel and Hardy shorts, The Live Ghost is nevertheless entertaining stuff, with plenty of absurdity and slapstick comedy. it is one of a handful of ‘horror’ themed Laurel and Hardy shorts that also include Oliver the Eighth, The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case and A-Haunting We Will Go.

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David Flint, HORRORPEDIA

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