Laughton vs. a Little Lady: Canterville Ghost

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The Canterville Ghost was based on the short story by Oscar Wilde and featured an all-star cast of Charles Laughton, Robert Young, and Margret O’Brien.

While the film had a bumpy start thanks to creative differences about the plot, it soon found its footing under the direction of Jules Dassin who worked closely with Laughton and the cast to shape this comedic supernatural tale.

1. O’Brien and Laughton got along.

Laughton was worried that he might scare the young actress in his ghostly outfit, so he told her, “It’s only me, darling. Just a silly old man trying to scare people. But not you!”  O’Brien later said, “I guess I liked him because he treated me like an adult actress. He was always one of my favorite actors.”

2. Laughton was self-conscious.

“All they had to do to make me cry was to tell me that Charles Laughton was going to steal the scene,” O’Brien said.  Laughton had a similar fear and confided to Robert Young, saying, “I think she’s stealing my scenes. What do you do about that child?” Young, who had worked with her before, encouraged the anxious actor by reminding him that the ghoulish role was bound to get the attention it deserved.

3. O’Brien had a ghostly good time.

While not working, O’Brien got to go horseback riding – that is until she accidently fell off. She also learned to do the jitterbug. O’Brien said, “The Canterville Ghost was lots of fun because I was back with Robert Young. And of course working with Charles Laughton… he was wonderful.”