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.
I love movies about impossible love, and this is one of my favourites. Lucy Muir, a young widow with a daughter, moves into Gull Cottage by the sea, and encounters the ghost of the former owner, Captain Gregg. He tries to frighten her into leaving, but she stays, and they fall in love. The beautiful soundtrack is full of the sounds of the sea, the seagulls and the melancholy of a love story which can't be resolved. Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney are perfect in their roles, and the supporting cast are wonderful, particularly Edna Best as Martha.
on 26 August 2007
I challenge anyone to engage fully with this movie and not be moved to tears. Forget George Sanders in his trademark cad role - wonderful though he is. The real heart of this movie is the relationship between Gene Tierney's determined widow and Rex Harrison as the ghostly sea Captain. There's something about this etheral love that simply transcends description and touches the immortal nature of love as a meaning for life. Watch it. Get involved. But keep the tissues to hand.
on 25 October 2005
This is a beautiful movie that works on many fronts. Lucie is a a strong independent lady living in an age where such women are not accepted by society.
Despite this she follows her true heart in first rejecting the inferior position her in-laws would have her accept, and then betraying all conventional wisdom by falling in love with a Ghost. The Ghost (Rex Harrison) is the only person who really understands her, but in his own way is really also a reflexion of her.
The Moral: be true to yourself.
The Story: A beatiful love story - for true romantics only.
on 5 June 2005
Edwardian widow, Gene Tierney, flees her overbearing in-laws to buy a small cottage by the sea. With small daughter and maid in tow, the formidable Mrs Muir sets up home in this idyllic setting. However, the house is haunted by the ghost of a sea captain, who doesn't much care for women invading, what he still sees, as his home.
At first, the uncouth captain (played with bearded handsomeness by Rex Harrison) tries to scare off the beautiful widow, but to no avail. She is tough and unmoving. A bickering friendship then begins to develop between the prim lady and the worldly-wise sailor. She agrees to write the captain's memoirs for him (a great success). Gradually unspoken feelings begin to deepen between the two, despite the obvious impossibility of their relationship.
Eventually Mrs. Muir meets a charming writer who manages to seduce her. You know this guy is no good, because he's played by George Sanders (the arch cad of many Hollywood films).
What I love about this film is that it starts off as a light comedy, but as the film progresses, the mood darkens, and then darkens again. The years roll by, while Bernard Herrman's romantic and doom-laiden music, crashes like waves on a beach.
The ending is tragic, uplifting and very, very moving.
A quiet, quite charming romantic comedy from director Joseph L Mankiewicz, who later directed "All About Eve". A widow (Gene Tierney) decides to leave her husband's family and move to the sea side. There she moves to a house where a captain (Rex Harrison) had live and die and she falls in love with his ghost. Although not much happens in the film, you still can't help falling in love with it. Gene Tierney is lovely, Rex Harrison is close to top form, George Sanders is at his slimy best and look for a very young Natalie Wood as Gene Tierney's daughter. The DVD looks very good and sounds quite good as well, doing justice to one of Bernard Herrmann's best and most famous scores. Let yourself fall in love with it.
Superb transfer of a gentle and ultimately profoundly moving classic. The blu ray offers excellent audio and video definition and allows this charming film to spin its magic. Script, acting, direction and design are all truly first rate and despite its many comic moments the ending is almost unbearably moving - it creeps up on the viewer to deliver a stronger emotional punch than you might expect. Highly recommended.
Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison capture our hearts, George Sanders tries to steal them away, but Rex Harrison is a ghost, slowly fading into non-existence. This is an impossible love story that cannot fail to move us.
The stunningly beautiful photography from Charles Lang was nominated for the 1947 Academy Award, and the outstanding score by Bernard Hermann should also have been. The direction by Joseph L Mankiewicz is excellent and the characters and their actions seem entirely natural, especially the abrasive sea captain who cannot quite control his coarseness in the presence of a genteel lady.
The Amazon summary and synopsis almost tell us too much, but having watched the film on TV a couple of times, we knew the story and still bought our own copy to be able to continue to enjoy it, especially since there is less and less worth watching on any TV these days.
The print is only B&W and shown in 4:3 with 2.0 `Stereo' sound, but the quality is as good as one might expect from 35mm, and one soon forgets this as the story and characters come to life and take a firm grip on our attention.
We find that a dark and wet and windy winter's night makes the perfect backdrop to watching this in the snug of our living room, and we always have tears in our eyes at the end.
I was pleased to see that this film didn't age at all, as I always liked a lot this "haunted" romantic comedy...))) I am very glad that I bought and watched it even if I already was familiar with the story, having seen this film long, long time ago... Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS
In the early 1900s, young widow Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) moves to the seaside English village of Whitecliff. Having only limited funds she rents a splendid, but surprisingly cheap house, named Gull Cottage. The reason for the low rent is the reputation of this place - locals are convinced that it is being haunted by the ghost of the previous owner, a roguish sea captain named Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison), who supposedly committed suicide. Albeit slightly apprehensive, Mrs Muir moves in with her young daughter Anna (Natalie Wood) and her maid Martha (Edna Best) - and once she turns off the lights on the first night in the new place the film really begins and I will say nothing more about the story...
Made in 1947, in the middle of Hollywood golden age, this is a very, very charming and entertaining romatic comedy, with a good scenario containing lots of wit, good dialogs, emotion, some drama (not much) and a little bit of sadness (not much). The film is absolutely NOT scary as the ghost, although somehow rude in its manners, is really a brave fellow... Rex Harrison is as great as always and Gene Tierney simply SHINES both by her beauty and her talent. Young Natalie Wood (she was nine at the time) in one of her first screen appearances adds a lot of charm to this film. Later in the film adult Anna is played by Vanessa Brown, a very charming young lady, for whom it was the first role ever. Edna Best, an actress who began her career in the 1920s in silent movies is excellent in the secondary but important role of Martha, the housekeeper.
I like this film a lot. It is not any kind of immortal masterpiece, but a very nice, charming, heart warming, wity and pleasant thing to watch. I am absolutely keeping my DVD for another viewing. ENJOY!
on 12 April 2007
There are soundtracks and there are orchestrations. "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" is neither. Some movies reach the haunting by cinematography, others by acting. "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," requires neither. Herrmann does it all.
There is a strain of person who finds the melancholy the fairest flower for its deep emotion and sweet beauty, and there are those who have no sense of it whatsoever. If you are of the first persuasion, then this soundtrack will fill you with sublime longing as few other things can. In, "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," Herrmann created a theme that surpasses this excellent film all on its own. It's a great movie, make no mistake, Gene Tierney shines above every other role she's played, however her foil isn't Rex Harrison at all; it's Herrmann's scoring. Like, "Lawrence of Arabia," there are two stars in the film, the acting star and the score.
And what a score. If you've ever felt the pull of years, the depth of the hours, the elation and fear of every passing moment, then you'll feel as though Herrmann scored this film with the grand terribleness of life itself. There is nothing like it in cinema. At once the score begins with a quiet etude that segues into a simple happy lilt for a time but then moves into a forboding, grand delight of magnificent beauty and longing. The story of Lucy Muir's inner life, her feelings of not being quite alive, are all wrapped in Herrmann's score. Some have labeled it, "gothic," others have just labeled it brilliant; in any event, Herrmann has pulled more out of his score than either Tierney or Harrison have. Against such accomplished actors, this is no small feat.
If you have any sense of beauty in the passing of time, and the brillicance of love just beyond reach, of longing past life itself, then this score, all on its own, will illuminate you. There is a terrible force, a reaching desire, an unfulfilled love. Like nothing else, "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," is a tantalus of bewitching quality. There is subltely, pastoral quietude, and above all, the lush desire of a love that cannot be consumated.
This is one of the greatest film scores or, on its own merits alone, one of the greatest orchestral examples of unrequited love ever brought to music.