Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Feature film. (1947, 104 mins) IMDB
ecently widowed, Mrs. Muir bolts from London for a new life on the seacoast of England. When she moves into a house there, she does so knowing it's haunted. The ghost of its former owner, Captain Gregg, haunts it. He doesn't want any visitors, and to date, has succeeded in keeping the place vacant until Mrs. Muir arrives. She's not frightened by his presence and survives the first night.
The film is a love story with the ultimate barrier separating the two from each other--death. She can see and hear him but others can't.
There are no such things as ghosts. They simply don't exist. Usually I would use that against any story because they want us to believe they exist and usually to scare us. This film is different. We know ghosts don't exist even though Rex Harrison appears as one in this film and it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because while he appears in the film, we don't see him as a ghost. It doesn't matter because of the wonderful, foul-mouthed character that he is. It doesn't matter because we can watch the lovely Gene Tierney go toe-to-toe with him and win. It doesn't matter because it's a love story. It's meant to float us away from the moment for ninety minutes to a world that doesn't exist. It doesn't matter because even the story and characters in it know that ghosts don't exist. In fact, what we see in the film could very well have been the fancy imagination of Mrs. Muir living in isolation. With no husband, no companion, she invented these interactions with the captain who died four years earlier.
Act II is filled with a growing love between the two. He's less cranky towards her. She's more appreciative of who he is. In an effort to generate income for her, he dictates his life story to her to write up as a book to be published. While at the publishers, she meets the suave and charming George Sanders. He goes after her with the determination of black flies. It isn't long before she gives in to his charm and they plan to marry. Those marriage plans are thrown out the window when she discovers he's already married with children. Ouch!
That heartache and the disappearance of the ghost brings us to Act III where life continues in a mundane way and flashes forward ten years when her daughter announces her engagement. And forward even more years where Mrs. Muir, grey-haired and ill, dies. In her death, the captain returns and they walk hand in hand off into the distance.
It's hard to imagine how this film could have been better. It has a stellar cast with a top-notch crew. It's a film to watch and enjoy.
Posted 2009/04/14 at 18h30ET in Movie Commentary.