GHOST AND MRS. MUIR, THE (director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz; screenwriters: Philip Dunne/based on the novel by R.A. Dick; cinematographer: Charles Lang; editor: Dorothy Spencer; music: Bernard Hermann; cast: Gene Tierney (Lucy Muir), Rex Harrison (Captain Daniel Clegg), George Sanders (Miles Fairly), Edna Best (Martha Huggins), Vanessa Brown (Adult Anna Muir), Natalie Wood (Young Anna), Robert Coote (Combe); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Fred Kohlmar; Fox Home Video; 1947)
“It didn’t move me as much as I think it should have.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Joseph L. Mankiewicz (“All About Eve”/”Dragonwyck”/”Julius Caesar”)directs this fantasy romantic ghost story. It’s based on the novel by R.A. Dick and written by Philip Dunne.
The strong-willed Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) is a recent young widow with a small child, Anna (Natalie Wood), who leaves the comforts of living with her overbearing in-laws in turn of the century London and rents a unique cottageon the Cornwall coast despite warned by the real estate agent (Robert Coote) that the house is haunted. Lucy also brings along her trusted maid Martha Huggins (Edna Best). Daniel Clegg (Rex Harrison) is the cranky seaman ghost who fiercely makes himself known to Lucy. The arrogant, profane and bombastic Daniel built the house and committed suicide in it. The ghost of Daniel soon develops an affection for Lucy because she’s not fearful of him. When Lucy’s inheritance falls through and she faces money problems, Daniel solves her financial problems by dictating to her his adventurous seafaring life story as a book. In the meantime Lucy is charmed by ladies man children’s book author Miles Fairly (George Sanders), who introduces her to a publisher. Their growing relationship doesn’t sit well with the jealous seafarer ghost, who tries warning the obstinate woman that he’s a cad but recedes into the background when he loses his influence over her.
There’s an appealing charm to this sentimental fable, it’s beautifully shot by Charles Lang, it has a haunting score byBernard Hermann, it sets a spooky mood and the good chemistry between Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney clearly helps the story get its sea legs. But it didn’t move me as much as I think it should have, as there was a coldness to this well-crafted tale that kept me too distant from the beautiful widow.
REVIEWED ON 4/6/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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