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Blithe Spirit [DVD]
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In this Noel Coward comedy, cynical writer Rex Harrison asks a medium (Margaret Rutherford) to hold a seance in his house so he can collect material for his latest book. No one is more surprised than the medium when she inadvertently conjures up the ghost of Harrison's first wife (Kay Hammond). The ghost refuses to go away, preferring to taunt her less sophisticated replacement (Constance Cummings).
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 --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
So I bought it on DVD thinking ah, this will be sweet and nostalgic and turn me back into a little girl for an hour or two. Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I like Noel Coward's plays, I love Margaret Rutherford (who is remarkably young and spry), the special effects were surprisingly good and it is eccentric English humour very nicely portrayed indeed, I recommend it as a delightful oddity.
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!
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I would like to meet someone in my age group who has not seen this film it stars the lovely Dame Margaret Rutherford I am a great fan of this past actress, never a great beauty but... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Shirley Steadman
Another of the all time greats - now I own it. If you like old films you'll love this onePublished 1 month ago by Jules