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Blithe Spirit [DVD] [1945]

Rex Harrison , Constance Cummings , David Lean    Universal, suitable for all   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
Price: £4.25 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Blithe Spirit [DVD] [1945] + The Ghost and Mrs. Muir [DVD] [1947] + A Matter Of Life And Death [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, Kay Hammond, Margaret Rutherford, Hugh Wakefield
  • Directors: David Lean
  • Writers: Noel Coward, Ronald Neame, David Lean, Anthony Havelock-Allan
  • Producers: Noel Coward
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: ITV Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 26 Sep 2008
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008YNFZ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,198 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Noel Coward's favourite play, Blithe Spirit, was certainly a departure for David Lean, best known at the time for adapting Dickens. While it's the director's only comedy, the result is a delightful gem. Rex Harrison is an acerbic author haunted by the ghost of first wife Elvira (Kay Hammond), who tries to seduce him all over again. This throws his second wife (Constance Cummings) into a panic, second-guessing her lack of passion. It's a celestial sex romp that hasn't lost its bite. Margaret Rutherford, as always, steals the show as the sardonic medium. --Bill Desowitz

Product Description

DVD MGM/UA, 5037115041739, 1945 Region 2 PAL Classic Collection

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
72 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The cheerful dead 4 July 2004
This is a film I've loved since I was a child. It only came out on DVD last year, but the film was made in 1945. It must be about 20 years since I last watched it and, I'm pleased to say that it has aged well and I enjoyed it just as much today as I did on all the previous occasions that I watched it. As you would expect in a script created by Noel Coward, it's very clever and very witty. Margaret Rutherford is one of my favourite comic actresses and she's on form in this film, playing a dotty old medium, Madam Arcati, who conjures up the spirit of her client's first wife - and is then quite at a loss to know how to get rid of her. Rex Harrison plays the client: author, Charles Condomine, who arranged for Madam Arcati to have a séance at his home. He's hoping that she's a fraud and he wants to study her methods for the book he's writing. Coward could have written this part for Rex Harrison who plays the part with cool, sharp, intelligent wit. His wives - the first Mrs Condomine, Elvira, played by Kay Hammond and the current Mrs Condomine, Ruth, played by Constance Cummings are both excellent: the naughty, mischievous Elvira taking every opportunity to annoy and upset poor Ruth and get Charles into trouble; the indignant Ruth, in turns angry and exasperated. There's a playful and good natured feel to the film. Elvira's more teasing than spiteful; Ruth is never pushed too far and Charles quite enjoys having both his wives with him - if only they could get on nicely together.
I think it's probably fair to call this film a 'classic' of its kind. I'm so pleased to have found it available on DVD. It's just the thing to cheer up a wet Sunday afternoon. I recommend it.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dame Margaret Rutherford at her very best! 8 April 2007
Undoubtedly Dame Margaret Rutherford's greatest movie - looking surprisingly young, slim and energetic, and with a waistline of someone half her age! Here she plays the somewhat 'cranky' and eccentric Madame Arcati in Noel Coward's hilarious comedy. Also stars a plummy-voiced Kay Hammond whose voice can get a little irritating after awhile. The marvellous Joyce Carey who was blessed with perennial youth plays the hapless Mrs. Bradman, who is always putting her foot in it! Constance Cummings and Rex Harrison play the unfortunate married couple who are haunted by the ghost of a previous dead spouse - Harrison playing very much himself here, and with an uncannily resemblance to the character 'Higgins' that he was to play some twenty years later in 'My Fair Lady'; conceited and nauseatingly arrogant...

One of the best scenes in this classic that stands out far from the rest with some great dialogue, is when Mrs. Condomine pays a visit to Madame Arcati, demanding she be rid of her husband's previous wife's ghost. This turns into a fiery exchange of some great home truths for both characters! An interesting point is the drama of this - craftily slipped in the middle of an otherwise complete 'comic' movie. Very cleverly done!

This film has some marvellous special effects for its day, in particular, Rutherford's extremely long finger, and the clever shot of Constance Cummings running upstairs, and seemingly passing straight through Kay Hammond's ghostly apparition! All done in glorious Technicolor!

A gem not to be missed!
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless classic 8 Nov 2004
This is British filmmaking at it's best. No matter that this was made in 1945, it still entertains today.
The movie is based on a play by Noel Coward and centres around an author (Rex Harrison) who, with his second wife (Constance Cummings)invites a medium to perform a seance in his home. His intention is to perform research for a novel he is writing but the medium, brilliantly played by Margaret Rutherford, unwittingly raises the spirit of his deceased first wife,Elvira.
From then on, the unfortunate man is caught between his warring wives. The battle is all played out with humour, as is the hapless authors efforts to get the medium to get rid of Elvira.
This is a movie that is well worth watching and funny for any age group.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spookily Splendid! Another Lean Film Classic! 7 July 2003
By pacem et amorem TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
This is a masterpiece of comic genius!

The whole premise is literally out of this world. Rex Harrison wants to write a novel about a Medium and decides to invite local Medium Margaret Rutherford for dinner and a séance! The comic mayhem that ensues is wonderful and simply exquisite as Harrison's first wife Elvira returns to make life decidedly uncomfortable for Ruth - wife number two.

Kay Hammond as Elvira is bubbling with wicked mischief and Constance Cummings is perfect as the outraged and displaced Ruth. The cast are all perfect - with Margaret Rutherford's Madame Arcati simply stealing the show!

Buy it now - I'm sure it'll become one of the most treasured pieces in your DVD collection!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
If nothing else, the film gets the ending right. On stage, BLITHE SPIRIT ends with Charles Condomine's two wives having a catfight beyond the grave while he sweeps out in all of his masculine superiority. In the film version, the ladies will have none of that--mind you, he tries to make such an exit, but it's followed promptly by a fatal car crash that lands him right back in the muck--which is where he belongs, since the whole mess is his fault . . .

Secondly, the character of Condomine's second wife, Ruth, has been softened a bit, not only in Constance Cummings' brisk but likeable performance, but in Coward's script--the stage version made Ruth a hysterical scold and the butt of one too many nasty jokes--here she is a nice normal woman caught in an increasingly weird and annoying situation, and everything she does, both before and after death, makes a fair amount of sense.

Finally, there is Margaret Rutherford's performance as the medium Madame Arcati, whom Charles hires to conduct a seance in hopes of publicly debunking her, only to get lots of trouble as his just desserts. Far too many actresses think the role is an exucse of drape themselves in turbans and such and camp it up to an annoying degree. Coward wrote her, and Rutherford plays her, as a nice, relatively normal sort of person--a bit of an overgrown Girl Guide, perhaps, but hardly a self-concious eccentric. This makes her more eccentric moments, such as her rather scratchy releationship with her spirit guide, a little girl, all the funnier.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars splendid comedy
a hilarious comedy - showing Margaret Rutherford in a perfect role !
A must for lovers of classic movies - a must on a collectors shelf.
Published 1 month ago by Renate Haenel
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny film
Excellent film, really funny. Very similar to stage play script. Does not lose its humour in time. Good bit of escapism
Published 1 month ago by Aileen
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story.
Invokes great memories. An ideal present for those who remember the show. And, a pleasant surprise for those new to it
Published 1 month ago by pinedalli
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious!
Saw this as a child and loved it then. Margaret Rutherford at her most eccentric best - quite superb and unforgettable
Published 1 month ago by Gwen Parrott
1.0 out of 5 stars Great reputation- poor film
I got this based on its reputation. It is poor in all respects. It is a story that doesn't really work, with uninteresting acting and a poor quality transfer. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Eternal Moments
5.0 out of 5 stars A nice breath of fresh air!
If you enjoy Margaret Rutherford, you'll like her performance here. I think the film is good because she is in it.
Published 2 months ago by Jeanne Rahanta
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film
Blithe Spirit is work a watch very funny in parts very British. Margaret Rutherford is great as Madame Arcati. 5 stars
Published 3 months ago by Andrew Kemp
5.0 out of 5 stars Noel Coward, Rex Harrison, Margaret Rutherford ...
I saw this I don't like to think how many years ago, but put it this way, we rented a 16mm projector, and there was a tense wait while my father changed reels. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Elegsabiff
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic comedy , and Great Cast...!!
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde line ( From "The Importance of Being Earnest") - "To Loose One Wife is Unforunate , but to loose Two , is Careless...!!! Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mr. A. R. Banyer
5.0 out of 5 stars good play
I played Mrs Bradman in amatuer production and dvd was great help. Thank you very much, I will be back
Published 6 months ago by margaret bond
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