Friday, June 22, 2012


TOPPER RETURNS was released March 21, 1941. Victor Fox's comic book SAMSON #6, dated September 1941, featured a character named "The Topper" in a story that had some similarities to the movie. Was the comic book story inspired by the movie? We'll take a look at the movie and then at the comic.

Topper Returns

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Topper Returns
Directed byRoy Del Ruth
Produced byHal Roach
Written byJonathan Latimer
Thorne Smith (novel)
StarringJoan Blondell
Roland Young
Carole Landis
Billie Burke
Music byWerner R. Heymann
CinematographyNorbert Brodine
Editing byJames Newcom
StudioHal Roach Studios
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date(s)
  • March 21, 1941 (1941-03-21)
Running time88 minutes
CountryUnited States
Topper Returns (1941) is the third and final entry in the initial series of films inspired by the novels of Thorne Smith. It followed Topper (1937) and Topper Takes a Trip (1938). As in the prior movies, Roland Young and Billie Burke play the Toppers, while Joan Blondell portrays a murder victim and ghost who tries to save her friend, played by Carole Landis, and unmask her killer with the help of a reluctant Cosmo Topper.
It was nominated for the Academy Award for Special Effects (Roy Seawright and Elmer Raguse) and Best Sound, Recording (Elmer Raguse).[1]
A TV series of Topper premiered in 1953 and ran for two seasons.[2] A pilot called Topper Returns (1973)[3] was later made for a proposed TV series. There was also a made-for-TV remake of the original film, Topper in (1979).[4]
In 1969, the film entered the public domain (in the USA) due to the claimants failure to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.[5]



 External links

Carole Landis and Joan Blondell en route to where they are going in the story.

A slight accident en route -

- and it is necessary to seek other means of transportation, which turns out to be Topper. Joan Blondell is Topper's Topper in this story as she finds it necessary to sit on his lap due to limited seating space in the car.

Roland Young with Joan Blondell, Carole Landis, and Billie Burke.

Joan Blondell's character is killed and she appears afterwards only as a ghost, if at all. Here she is one of a number of scenes where she is invisble.

And here is one where she hasn't quite made up her mind whether to be invisible or not.

"Get outta bed? Ain't I supposed to have gone to my etoinal rest?"

The dumb detective tries to get to the bottom of the ongoing shenanigans and gets kicked in his bottom by the ghost for his trouble..And here he thought it was a Topper story.

A phantom, rival to the ghost, shows up and tries to take over.

But he is finally dealt with and Carole Landis lives happily ever after, in this story at least.


This comic book story also has two blondes, although they're only shown separately. And again one of them gets killed early in the story.

The hero's wearing a top hat indicates that he is a wealthy man like Bruce Wayne. Something that was common amoung comic book heroes of this period.

Another blonde shows up. My brother Dale remarked that she looked like Carole Landis when I saw this story on the "Four Color Shadows" site, which I'm reblogging the comic book story from.

They live happily ever after once again, if not quite the same way as the other story ended up.

The top hat wasn't just the symbol of the character in the comic book story, it was also used as a symbol for the character of "Topper" in the advertising for the movie. Top hats were featured prominently on several of the posters, although "Topper" doesn't wear one in the movie itself.

Was the comic book "Topper" inspired by the movie version? I don't know for sure, but it could have been. There are a number of resemblances and it came out not too long after the movie did.

We'll let someone who actually knew Victor Fox have the last word:
Jack Kirby: "Victor Fox was a character. He'd look up at the ceiling with a big cigar, this little fellow, very broad, going back and forth with his hands behind his back saying, 'I'm the King of Comics! I'm the King of Comics!' and we would watch him and, of course, smile a little because he was a genuine type".


Carole Landis, Official Site:

Joan Blondell:

Billie Burke:

Eddie Anderson:


Thorne Smith:

Thorne Smith Blog:

Four Color Shadows:

Samspon Comics:

Fox Feature Syndicate:

Victor Fox's Mystery Men:

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