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Topper Returns

Topper Returns(1941)

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Ann Carrington and her friend, Gail Richards, are riding in Bob's taxicab in upstate New York when a tire blows out and the car crashes. Neither Ann, Gail nor Bob is harmed, and they are unaware that a man in a cape shot out the tire. The women, who have just returned from the Orient, hitchhike because they are impatient to reach Ann's home, and accept a ride from banker Cosmo Topper, who is flustered by the two young beauties. At the gloomy Carrington estate, the women meet Ann's long-lost father Henry, and Ann learns that Henry gave her up after her mother and his business partner, Walter Harberg, died in a Sumatra mining accident. Ann and Gail switch rooms after Gail admires Ann's luxurious bedsheets, but that night, the caped man slips into Gail's room through a false wall. When Gail gets up from her sleep to close the window which he has opened, the caped man stabs her to death. Gail's spirit rises from her body and goes to Topper's house, where he and his wife are preparing for bed. Topper, who has some experience with ghosts, is mildly alarmed when Gail's ghost appears in his bedroom and beseeches him to go to the Carrington estate to find out what happened to her. Topper reluctantly slips out of the house while his wife is sleeping and finds Gail's body, but is unable to call the police because the Carringtons' phone is dead. Henry, his servants Lillian and Rama, and Carrington's physician, Dr. Jeris, are alarmed by the intruder who claims that Gail has been murdered. However, Gail's body disappears, and after finding Ann unharmed and a note supposedly penned by Gail, which says that she has gone out, Topper's story is discounted and Jeris declares him a schizophrenic. Shortly afterward, Bob arrives demanding his unpaid cab fare, but Ann is attacked while getting the money, and is rescued only when Bob rushes in after hearing her scream. The police are sent for and Gail's spirit now realizes that she was murdered because she was mistaken for Ann. Eddie, the chauffeur, then arrives with Mrs. Topper, who searches the house for her husband. Eddie disappears when a trick chair he sits in dumps him into an ocean cavern far below the house. Gail's ghost mischievously helps Topper lock everyone in the icebox, while down below, Eddie observes three men rowing Gail's body to a waiting boat. Topper and Gail's invisible ghost follow the men, and Gail baffles the boat's crew with her antics so that she and Topper can steal the body. When police sergeant Roberts finds Topper with Gail's body, he calls everyone together and accuses him of Gail's murder. Topper is granted a few moments alone in a room, where he confers with Gail's ghost, and obtains the note, which she says was written by Lillian. Lillian admits to writing the note, but denies any involvement in the murder. Just as she is about to name the killer, however, the lights go out and Lillian disappears. Ann is left alone while everyone searches the house, and she is captured by the killer and dragged into a secret passageway. Bob discovers the passage and searches for Ann, and when the killer knocks Bob out, Gail's ghost pummels the man. Bob finds Ann after he revives, but the killer has disappeared. Topper, meanwhile, deduces that the killer used the trick chair to get rid of Lillian. When everyone is again gathered in the room, Topper cleverly finds out that Henry was near the device that activates the chair when Lillian disappeared. Henry sees through Topper's plan and escapes, but Gail's ghost follows him in Topper's car, taking over for Eddie, who is horrified to see the car apparently driving itself. Henry crashes his car and is killed, but his ghost confesses to Gail's that he is actually Harberg, and that Henry died in the mining accident years earlier. After Harberg's ghost reveals that he was trying to get Ann's inheritance, Gail's ghost obtains a written confession, which she gives to Topper. Ann is relieved that the mystery has been solved, but Eddie, disturbed by recent events, quits his job. When Gail's spirit thanks him for his help, however, he runs, terrified, after his former employers.