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Topper Returns is a 1941 film directed by Roy Del Ruth.

It is the second sequel to 1937 hit film Topper. Ann Carrington (Carole Landis) has just come to California on the occasion of her 21st birthday, when she is to inherit a large estate from her late mother. Tagging along for companionship is her sassy best friend Gail (Joan Blondell). Someone apparently doesn't like this, as a mysterious cloaked sniper shoots out the tires in the taxi whisking Ann and Gail along the Pacific Coast Highway. The taxi wrecks but Ann and Gail are unharmed. They hitch a ride with...one Cosmo Topper, who lives nearby.

Cosmo and his valet (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson) drop off Ann and Gail at the Carrington mansion. Mr. Carrington is delighted to meet the daughter he hasn't seen since she was a small child. That night, however, the same mysterious cloaked figure intrudes into Gail's bedroom and stabs her to death. Gail's ghost rises from her body and, because the plot demands it, seeks out Cosmo Topper. Once again, Cosmo gets ensnared with a wacky ghost, as Gail demands Cosmo's help in finding out who killed her.

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Tropes:

  • Alcohol Hic: Apparently ghosts can get drunk, as Ann is hiccuping after having too much champagne.
  • Blowing Smoke Rings: Gail shows how completely at ease she is with being dead by blowing smoke rings in front of Rochester, who is a bit startled to see a cigarette hanging in mid-air and smoke rings coming from nowhere.
  • Bookcase Passage: One of the entrances to the Secret Underground Passage is a bookcase that flips around. There's also another entrance that is a blank wall with only a chair sitting in front.
  • Creepy Crows: Poor Rochester can hardly be blamed for freaking out when a crow lands on his shoulder as he's trying to find his way through the Secret Underground Passage.
  • Creepy Housekeeper: Lilian the very creepy housekeeper, who makes ominous comments about how she's spent 20 years watching the sea crash against the waves looking for an answer it never gets, and who skulks around being Obviously Evil—sure enough she's in on the murder plot. The detective lampshades this when he calls her "Rebecca".
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  • Discovering Your Own Dead Body: It's a real downer for Gail when she finds herself dead on the floor.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The Hitchhiker's Leg stunt Gail pulls causes a driver to wreck his car.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Gail isn't evil, but still, the dog detects her and howls when she's entering the Topper mansion.
  • Fainting: Ann has a habit of doing this, fainting when she is shown Gail's body and fainting again when kidnapped by the bad guy.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: The second way the bad guy tries to kill Ann is by dropping a chandelier, which narrowly misses.
  • Fanservice: Gail wore a tight negligee to bed the night she was murdered, so Joan Blondell spends most of the first part of the movie running around as a scantily clad sexy ghost, before Gail finally changes into a suit.
  • Ghost Fiction: A freshly murdered young woman strong-arms poor Cosmo Topper into helping her discover who was the killer.
  • His Name Is...: Played straight, as Lilian the maid is all set to confess, saying "It was—" before the lights go out. When they come back on she's disappeared. (She's never seen again but she's presumed murdered.)
  • Hitchhiker's Leg: Gail pulls up Ann's skirt to get someone to stop and pick them up. It fails, but they do cause one driver to wreck his car.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Gail's ghost hoists a bottle of champagne after finding her body and confirming that she was in fact murdered.
  • Mythology Gag: Walter has his fatal car wreck on the exact same set that Cary Grant and Constance Bennett had their car wreck in the original Topper. He sits on the same log that they did.
  • Old, Dark House: The Carrington place is a big spooky old mansion on a rocky outcropping, and if that isn't spooky enough it's got bookcase passages and trap doors and secret underground passages, and there's also a murderer creeping around.
    Rochester: If there wasn't anybody living there it would be a haunted house.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Like the first two Topper movies Gail is able to take corporeal form and interact with her environment. She can even get drunk. However apparently Topper is the only person who can see her.
  • The Reveal: Mr. Carrington is the murderer, and he isn't Mr. Carrington or Ann's father. He's Carrington's old partner, who assumed his identity after the mining accident that killed both Carringtons, and now must kill Ann to keep her from getting the estate.
  • Secret Underground Passage: There are two Bookcase Passages and a trap door leading to an underground passage to the rocks at the base of the cliff. The bad guy takes Ann there at the climax.
  • Servile Snarker: Rochester, making snarky comments throughout.
  • Trap Door: It turns out that the chair in the study is atop a Trap Door and will plunge the sitter into the ocean if the sitter leans back too far or if someone pulls a chain. This is how Topper gets Carrington to reveal himself by the end, by getting Carrington to sit in the chair and then reaching for a chain.
  • The 'Verse: This movie shares a continuity with The Jack Benny Program, since Rochester stars in both and at one point says that he would rather be back with Mr. Benny.
  • Whodunnit to Me?: After finding out that she was murdered, Gail's ghost decides to find the killer.
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