Hal Roach Presents
Topper Returns (1941)
In the Hal Roach comedy Topper Returns, most of the action takes place in an old, dark mansion, complete with trap doors and secret passageways. The trouble begins when banker Cosmo Topper and his chauffeur Eddie offer a lift to pretty hitchhikers Gail Richards and Ann Carrington.
Naturally, Cosmo’s good deed does not go unnoticed. Mrs. Topper and her maid Emily catch a glimpse of the family car whisking past, with Gail sitting in Cosmo’s lap!
The girls are en route to the spooky Carrington estate, which Ann is set to inherit the following day on her 21st birthday. That night when Gail goes giddy over Ann’s lavish canopy bed, Ann insists on switching rooms for the night. Unaware of the swap, a caped intruder enters the room and murders Gail by mistake.
Gail’s spirit arises from her lifeless body and heads to the house next door, where Mr. and Mrs. Topper are getting ready to retire (in separate bedrooms, no less!) Cosmo wants nothing to do with Gail or the Carrington estate, but she persuades him to help her rescue Ann from certain death.
Topper Returns DVD
Starring Joan Blondell and Carole Landis
Roland Young (Cosmo) and Billie Burke (Clara) starred in all three of the Hal Roach Studios Topper movies.
Topper Returns (1941)
A Hal Roach Production Starring Joan Blondell, Roland Young, Carole Landis, and Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson
Roland Young and Billie Burke are back as the Toppers, and once again the henpecked banker Cosmo is plagued by poltergeists. Joan Blondell portrays a mischievous ghost who enlists Cosmo’s help to find her murderer and save her friend and traveling companion, played by Carole Landis.
Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson steals the show as the perennially frightened chauffeur. Cast members who reside at the Carrington estate include H. B. Warner as Ann’s father Henry Carrington, George Zucco as the creepy Dr. Jeris, Rafaela Ottiano as Lillian the housekeeper, and Trevor Bardette as Rama, the butler. Billie Burke returns as Mrs. Clara Topper, and Patsy Kelly is delightful as her maid, Emily.
Topper Returns was nominated for two Academy Awards—one for Special Effects (Roy Seawright and Elmer Raguse) and another for Best Sound, Recording (Elmer Raguse). Though Topper Returns is more contrived than the earlier films, it still provides plenty of laughs.
Starring as the Beautiful Ghost, Gail Richards
Roland Young … Cosmo Topper
Joan Blondell … Gail Richards
Billie Burke … Clara Topper
Carole Landis … Ann Carrington
Eddie “Rochester” Anderson … Eddie
Patsy Kelly … Emily the Maid
Dennis O’Keefe … Bob the Cabbie
H.B. Warner … Mr. Carrington
Starring as Heiress Ann Carrington
Topper Returns Facts & Trivia
Hal Roach Studios, Inc.
- Producer: Hal Roach (Uncredited)
- Director: Roy Del Ruth
- Writers: Thorne Smith (Characters), Jonathan Latimer & Gordon Douglas (Original Screenplay), Paul Girard Smith (Additional Dialogue)
- Release Date: March 21, 1941 (USA)
- Genres: Fantasy – Mystery – Romance – Comedy
- Oscar Nomination for Best Effects, Special Effects:
Roy Seawright (Photographic) and Elmer Raguse (Sound)
- Oscar Nomination for Best Sound, Recording: Elmer Raguse (Hal Roach SSD)
- In the movie, Eddie, the chauffeur says he’s “going back to Mr. Benny,” an inside joke referring to his popular role as Rochester, the valet, on Jack Benny’s radio program and TV show.
Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson
Starring as Eddie, the Topper’s Chauffeur
Eddie Anderson was just a teenager when he embarked upon a show business career on the vaudeville circuit. He began working in films and radio in the 1930s. In 1937, he landed his most famous role as “Rochester,” Jack Benny’s valet on The Jack Benny Program. Eddie Anderson had the distinction of being the first African American with a regular role on a nationwide radio program. When the show transitioned to television, Eddie Anderson continued as “Rochester” until the series ended in 1965.
Eddie: Doors opening by themselves. People talkin’ to nuthin’ and gettin’ answers. I’m going back.
Clara: Back where?
Eddie: To Mr. Benny. Ain’t nuthin’ like this ever happened there.
Eddie Anderson and Jack Benny
The Jack Benny Program (1950–1965)
Topper Takes a Trip (1944) Trailer
A Hal Roach Production
Ectoplasm Marches On!
Joan Blondell is the Prettiest and Sassiest Ghost Ever!