‘Those Slap-happy Screamsters go a’hauntin!’
Hold That Ghost is a 1941 comedy horror feature film starring Abbott and Costello and featuring Joan Davis, Evelyn Ankers, and Shemp Howard (one of The Three Stooges). It was filmed from under the working title Oh, Charlie. Additional filming occurred to append the nightclub scenes with Ted Lewis and The Andrews Sisters.
Chuck Murray (Bud Abbott) and Ferdie Jones (Lou Costello) work at a gas station, but long to move up to waiting tables at Chez Glamour, a high-class nightclub.
Opportunity comes their way and they find themselves working there. But on their very first night, they cause a disturbance and are fired, only to wind up working again at the gas station, when a gangster named “Moose” Matson (William Davidson) brings in his car for servicing. Chuck and Ferdie happen to be inside the vehicle when the gangster speeds off to escape police, who are searching for him. During the chase, the gangster is killed by gunfire, and through a strange clause in his will, Chuck and Ferdie inherit his tavern, Forrester’s Club.
They arrive during a heavy thunderstorm, but the driver abandons them and the other passengers there and takes off with everyone’s luggage, a scheme that is known as the “wildcat bus racket”. Unbeknownst to everyone, one of the passengers, Charlie Smith (Marc Lawrence) is a member of Moose’s gang, and wants to search the tavern for a hidden money stash.
As the night progresses, strange things begin to happen, while Charlie is looking for the money in the basement, he disappears. While upstairs, everyone is curious where Charlie went. While the men look for Charlie the two girls are frightened by a pair of glowing eyes…
Upon the film’s release it received mostly positive reviews. The New York Times considered the film “immensely funny”, but criticized it’s musical numbers and length. The Motion Picture Herald gave the film a very favorable review. Motion Picture Daily felt that it was Abbott and Costello’s “corniest” and “best” comedy yet. The use of slapstick was praised by the New York Morning Telegraph, yet the publication thought “it should have been better Abbott and Costello.”