Top positive review
68 people found this helpful
on 3 December 2005
The idea that love lives on after death has always appealed to the imaginations of cinema-goers as has been shown, in recent years especially, by the success of such movies as Ghost and Truly, Madly, Deeply, but fifty- odd years before these supernatural love stories were released, there was The Ghost and Mrs Muir.
Released in May 1947, and based quite closely on the 1945 book of the same name, The Ghost and Mrs Muir tells the story of Lucy Muir a young widow who decides she's had enough of having her life led for her by other people and sets off to make her own way in the world. Choosing the Cornish coastline as the location in which to begin her new life Lucy rents the charming Gull Cottage claiming the stories of its being haunted to be nonsense. However, when the ghost of Captain Daniel Gregg manifests itself in her kitchen Lucy is forced to start believing in the supernatural and, despite their differences, she and Captain Greg strike up a friendship which eventually turns to love.
The Ghost and Mrs Muir is an utterly enchanting film with much of its magic lying in the stunning performances given by its top-notch cast. Rex Harrison's plays the surly and argumentative Captain Gregg whose temper and demeanour softens as his friendship with Lucy grows. Harrison is wonderful as the Captain playing him as a strong masculine figure, a genuine man's man and man of the world, although his seaman's accent is a little over the top at times. Gene Tierney's Lucy Muir is beautiful and headstrong yet gentle and naive; the perfect foil to Harrison's Captain Gregg and the chemistry between the two is a joy to behold. George Sanders, too, is ideally cast as Lucy's smarmy suitor Miles Fairley.
However, despite their excellent performances, the actors take second place in this film to Charles Lang's gorgeous cinematography which earned him a well deserved Oscar nomination. The views of the foam topped waves crashing against cliffs which marks the passage of time in the film and the shots of the countryside surrounding Gull Cottage are given a moody, eerie beauty by the two colour Technicolor in which The Ghost and Mrs Muir is filmed and it is scene like these which make this film truly special. Together with Bernard Herrmann's haunting score, which echoes the sound of the waves crashing against the cliffs, these scenes give the movie a wonderfully atmospheric feel.
The Ghost and Mrs Muir is by turns comic and tragic; comic because of characters like Mr Coombe the superstitious estate agent and tragic because we watch the relationship between the Captain and Lucy grow into something more than friendship, yet all the while we are aware that nothing can come of their relationship for, as the Captain himself says, he 'is spirit' and the scene in which he leaves his Lucia (his pet name for Lucy) is heartbreakingly poignant. Ultimately, however, The Ghost and Mrs Muir is romantic, though the romance is beautifully understated as the love between the two protagonists is never confessed or confirmed but merely implied through glances and gestures.
Despite it's few minor flaws such as the fact that it does not follow the book on which it is based quite as closely as it could have, Rex Harrison's rather grating accent and the long drawn out sea metaphors sometimes used by the Captain, The Ghost and Mrs Muir is a touching romance, lovingly made, which tells the story of two people perfect for each other who were never given the chance to be together in this world. It is a tale of impossible love, a love which can never be consummated and it is this which makes that final scene all the more moving and The Ghost and Mrs Muir a true classic.