The Living Ghost

The Living Ghost is a 1942 American film directed by William Beaudine produced by Monogram Pictures. The Living Ghost was released on videocassette as A Walking Nightmare.

The Living Ghost
Directed byWilliam Beaudine
Produced byA.W. Hackel (producer)
Written byHoward Dimsdale (original story)
Joseph Hoffman (screenplay)
StarringSee below
CinematographyMack Stengler
Edited byJack Ogilvie
Release date
November 27,
  • 1942 (1942)
Running time
61 minutes
CountryUnited States

The film is also known as Lend Me Your Ear in the United Kingdom.

Plot summary

This is a low-budget criminal melodramatic story with faint horror movie tendencies. Lead character Nick Trayne is played by future Academy award-winner James Dunn. Nick Trayne is a slightly eccentric former private detective who has retired to pursue a more leisurely occupation gets lured back into business to investigate the disappearance of a banker - Walter Craig (Gus Glassmire). It is the banker's best friend, Ed Moline (Paul McVey) who hires him after the banker has disappeared from his home.

At the banker's estate, Nick meets his whole family, consisting of Craig's second wife Helen (Edna Johnson), his snobby daughter Tina (Jan Wiley), her fiancé Arthur Wallace (Howard Banks), Walter's nutty sister, Delia Phillips (Minerva Urecal), and her husband George (J. Arthur Young), as well as Walter's friend and former partner, Tony Weldon (George Eldredge).

Nick cooperates with Craig's cheeky secretary, Billie Hilton (Joan Woodbury), on this case. He starts out with questioning Craig's more than alarmingly suspicious friends and relatives. When Nick is busy doing his interviews the missing banker suddenly returns. Craig isn't quite himself - he is seemingly lobotomized, looking more like a zombie than anything with the slightest resemblance to a living breathing thing.

Luckily enough there is a neurologist and brain specialist at hand, Dr. Bruhling (Lawrence Grant). According to Dr. Bruhling, Craig is suffering from a paralyzed cerebral cortex. Furthermore, this state of Craig's could make him dangerous to his surrounding. Dr. Bruhling concludes that this state, this paralyzation of a portion of the brain cells in the cerebral cortex, must have been induced by another person - this is not something that Craig possibly could have brought on himself. Nick continues his investigation by hearing several of the family members, and finds out that if Craig dies, his daughter Tina will inherit everything he owns. It doesn't take many moments however, until Craig actually become violent and seemingly kills his brother-in-law. When Nick is to meet George, to question him, in the estate garden, he finds the man murdered with a knife in his back, and Craig standing by the dead body in the estate garden.

But is the cataleptic banker actually a killer or is someone even more dangerous behind the murder? Nick gets a list of false clues, that point to Wallace as the killer. Craig, who is deemed capable of very violent behaviour in his current state, tries to kill Nick, but fails. Nick continues to investigate, and after getting some additional information from Dr. Bruhling he traces a piece of laboratory equipment that might have been used to alter Craig's brain cells. The trail leads Nick and Billie - who now work together, smittened - to an abandoned nearby shack on the estate where strange experiments have recently been conducted by a man named Carson. The pair go to the shack on a stormy night to search the place. At first they find nothing in particular, but are nearly shot by an unseen assailant. Just before they leave the place, they discover another man who appears to be in the same state as Craig. Nick goes on to see the realtor in charge of the lease of the property, Homer Hawkins. The realtor claims he hasn't had any contact with Carson - the tenant - since he signed the contract, and even then they only spoke on the phone.

With this new information Nick decides on an ingenious plan: to find the killer by recording everyone's voices on tape, and letting Homer Hawkins listen to them one by one. This way Hawkins will be able to identify him. Later in the night, there are two attempts to kill Nick - one by Tony and one by Helen - and he finally calls the police to have them arrested. When they are safely behind bars he explains the two culprits' motives: Tony and Helen are lovers and were found out by Craig. Tony knew about Tina inheriting everything from Craig, so he went to hire the abandoned shack in the name of Carson, play doctor and place Craig in that zombie state he is in. That way Helen would be able to manage Craig's estate, ensuring that it didn't fall into Tina's hands. George was killed because he witnessed Tony bringing back Craig to the house after the brain treatment. Nick is ultimately paid $25,000 by Tina for his sleuthing, and he and his new found love Billie elope together to get married.[1]




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