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That's the Spirit
Year - 1945
Studio - Universal Studio
Stars - Jack Oakie, Peggy Ryan, Gene Lockhart, June Vincent, Andy Devine, Arthur Treacher, Irene Ryan, Buster Keaton, Victoria Horne
Director - Charles Lamont
Writing Credits - Michael Fessler, Ernest Pagano
Music - Hans Salter, William Lava
Sisters Libby (June Vincent) and Patience (Victoria Horne) attend a performance at the local Musical Hall despite their domineering father's disapproval of the venue. They are greeted by the theater owner, Martin Wilder (Andy Devine). During the show, Libby is invited onstage by the vaudeville performer and he causes the two of them to vanish from the stage. They eventually show up together at her parents' home and Libby announces that she is in love with the vaudevillian, Steve Gogarty (Jack Oakie). Although her father, Jasper Cawthorne (Gene Lockhart) forbids such a relationship, he later discovers her apparently having spent the night with Steve, and he demands that they get married that very day.
Months later, Libby is about to give birth to a baby in the hospital, with Steve and Jasper nervously pacing in the corridor. They overhear two nurses discussing that there are complications with the birth. Steve desperately pleads that he wishes that any harm come to himself rather than the baby. A ghostly woman appears and he follows her offscreen. Meanwhile a healthy baby girl is born.
He finds himself in heaven where he requests that he be allowed to invisibly return to earth in order to see his new daughter. After18 years of training, the heavenly clerk, L.M. (Buster Keaton) agrees to allow him to return to monitor the life of his daughter, Sheila (Peggy Ryan).
Steve's ghost returns to the family home where his wife and daughter live with Jasper and his wife, Abigail (Edith Barrett). He is invisible to all except to Sheila, his daughter, although others sense a presence because of his squeaky shoes. Also, he discovers that, by playing his little flute, he can cause stodgy mortals to become wild and uninhibited.
Sheila has inherited his love of performing, and she is an accomplished singer and dancer. Steve guides her to his old music hall theater, where she meets the manager's son, Martin Wilde Jr. (Johnny Coy), also a performer. They prepare an act to perform together, and the show is a hit, but the theater lacks the finances to continue to stay open. Meanwhile, Libby falls very ill and is advised by her doctor to travel to a better climate.
The theater is saved when Mrs. Cawthorne, weary of her husband's controlling and inflexible behavior, provides the financial backing from her own funds. On opening night, she, and Steve's ghost, proudly watch Sheila and Martin in a big musical production number. Mrs. Cawthorne then receives the news that Libby has died from her illness. Her ghost joins Steve at the theater, and together they happily watch the show.