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Topper by Thorne Smith

Topper (1926)

by Thorne Smith

Series: Topper (1)

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very funny whimsical fantasy. ( )
  SChant | Apr 26, 2013 |
Cosmo Topper, nearing 40, functions staunchly as a banking officer in the big city, and a volunteer fireman in the little town where he lives. But then he buys a used and infamous car, comes under the delinquent influence of a couple of ghosts, and goes on an extended debauch in this charming 1920s classic.

"Topper" (1926) is widely credited with establishing the current comic thread in treatment of ghosts. It led directly to the 1937 movie of the same name, starring Cary Grant, and the 1950s TV series, starring Leo G. Carroll. It led hardly less directly to endless TV and movie treatments too numerous to name. The ghost comedy, with all its permutations, is a hardy staple, with us to this day.

It’s easy to see why this slender work has all the credit. One could call it a harmless fantasy of rebellion, except that Topper doesn’t come out of it unscathed. He has frequent – near daily – hangovers, spends one night in jail that we know of, and flees the law through unfamiliar wildernesses in the wee hours, on numerous occasions. All through this, he tries without success to explain or hide, the boisterous and mischievous behavior of his ghost friends. His head, his liver, and his reputation all take a beating, and he winds up crashing the car and nearly dying.

But Mr. Topper’s near-fatal vacation expands his life, his opinions, and his social experience. He becomes enamored with, and loses forever, the comely and obliging Marion Kerby, but emerges with a renewed appreciation of his wife. This engaging, light piece completely deserves its place as the seminal ghost comedy. Pick it up and be charmed, like generations of readers before you.

http://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com/2013/04/topper-by-thorne-smith.html ( )
  LukeS | Apr 22, 2013 |
Cosmo, a banker stuck in a rut, buys a car on a whim, despite being the car in which a young couple died in a few months before after crashing into a tree.

Little does he know, but the car is haunted by the dead couple, and soon the three are having a whale of a time. Topper escapes from his humdrum life (and wife), spends most of his time excessively drunk, getting into trouble and hanging around with a lot of dead people - and Oscar the dog.

I do vaguely remember the film with Cary Grant and I can just imagine the special effects being created for this - such as when Oscar can only (back) half appears.

Think the book would best be described as "screwball" which is a type of book - and film - which has fallen out of fashion, especially in early 21st century England. We like our humour different now I think. Whilst mildly amusing, this is not the funniest book I've read ( )
  nordie | Jun 30, 2012 |
It took me quite a while to get into this. I'm not sure old-school slapstick humour comes across well on the page. But I did quite like it in the end so I'm glad I didn't give up. ( )
  annesadleir | Jun 30, 2011 |
Absolutely delightful. Must read the rest of these. While in some ways this was considered scandalous, it certainly seems innocent today, and what man hasn't fallen in love with a ghost? This modern era farce has a sweetness and innocence lacking in a post-modern era characterized by violence and overt sex. Smith uses an interesting motif in this book that he did not use in "Gods". Keep your eyes open for it. ( )
1 vote jaygheiser | Jul 30, 2008 |
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To Celia - to say the least
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For some minutes now Scollops had been gazing searchingly at Mr. Topper.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375753052, Paperback)

"[Thorne Smith] created the modern American ghost.   A ghost with style and wit. A ghost that haunts us still."
--The New York Times

Thorne Smith is a master of urbane wit and sophisticated repartee. Topper, his best-known work, is the hilarious, ribald comedy on which the hit television show and movie (starring Cary Grant) were based.

It all begins when Cosmo Topper, a law-abiding, mild-mannered bank manager, decides to buy a secondhand car, only to find it haunted by the ghosts of its previous owners--the reckless, feckless, frivolous couple who met their untimely demise when the car careened into an oak tree. The ghosts, George and Marion Kerby, make it their mission to rescue Topper from the drab "summer of suburban Sundays" that is his life--and they commence a series of madcap adventures that leave Topper, and anyone else who crosses their path, in a whirlwind of discomfiture and delight.

As enchanting today as it was when first published in 1926, Topper has set the standard in American pop culture for such mischievous apparitions as those seen in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Heaven Can Wait, Beetlejuice, and Bewitched.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:10 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

After a playboy and his wife are killed, as ghosts they haunt a staid banker and try to put some fun into his life.

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