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The Late Movie: The Canterville Ghost (1997) – Ian Richardson, Celia Imrie, Rik Mayall


This ghost, formerly Sir Simon de Canterville, has one real problem–the only people in England who aren’t afraid of him are the ones he wants to scare. If only every ghost-plagued, imposing mansion could have residents like the Otis family! The practical father sells elixirs (stain remover for blood spots, oil for squeaky armor…). His politely southern wife, Mrs. Lucretia Otis, merely wants to impress the local peerage with a fancy party (something Sir Simon puts an amusing end to). Finally, after a hilarious string of “experts” fail to get rid of the ghost, it’s the Otis’s teenage daughter Virginia who saves the day.

Based on Oscar Wilde’s classic tale, this version is one of many. Although Ian Richardson’s performance as the ghost is not as endearing as Sir John Gielgud’s or David Niven’s, this production is thoroughly enjoyable. Sarah-Jane Potts, as Virginia, makes an inspirational heroine that viewers will respect. A refreshing blend of wholesome wit with a smidgen of Victorian sentimentality, The Canterville Ghost will make great viewing for children (ages 7 and up), families, and grownups.

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