Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Film Review: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

The movie poster doesn't do
the film justice . . .
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     TCMDb: In 1900, strong-willed widow Lucy Muir goes to live in Gull Cottage by the British seaside, even though it appears to be haunted. Sure enough, that very night she meets the ghost of crusty former owner Captain Gregg . . . and refuses to be scared off. Indeed, they become friends and allies, after Lucy gets used to the idea of a man's ghost haunting her bedroom. But when a charming live man comes courting, Lucy and the captain must deal with their feelings for each other.

     Captain Daniel Gregg: "You must make your own life amongst the living and, whether you meet fair winds or foul, find your own way to harbor in the end."
     Ah, if truer words have ever been spoken, I've yet to hear them.
     The only way I can think to describe this film is that it is gentle; gentle in it's romanticism, gentle in it's beauty. It takes you by the hand, and as you go on your journey of watching this film, it never once loosens its gentle grip on you, but somehow through the course of those couple of hours that you sat there watching, it transformed its grip from your hand to your heart. The word "masterpiece" is overused, especially considering today's standards of making something become such but any lesser word would be inadequate--and the last thing The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is is inadequate--and so with that in mind, I must say that The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a true masterpiece.

"It was all a dream . . ."
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     I adore Rex Harrison. I have from the very first moment I saw him in My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn. He, to be quite truthful, is my type of fella: witty, sarcastic, sardonic, and gruff--but beneath all of that exterior, he is quite sweet and loving. Some may not agree with my assessment, but the key word there is my--ah, the beauty of one's own personal opinion. 
     So, going on that, I immediately loved his character, Captain Daniel Gregg. If Rex had been a seaman, not a sailor, for as Captain Gregg pointed out only landsmen call them that, he would've been Captain Gregg through and through.
     This is my second film with the lovely Gene Tierney, the first having been The Razor's Edge with Tyrone Power, Herbert Marshall, and Ann Baxter. I really enjoyed The Razor's Edge when I watched it about a year ago, and I'd recommend it to anyone, but I most certainly didn't like Gene Tierney's character--and so of course this made me really like Gene. She was a fantastic actress, a true beauty, but is almost forgotten of today which is a total shame.
Candlelight + Mastery cinematgography
= this scene.
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     Her beauty is showcased so well in this film. The cinematogra-phy is simply breathtaking; the scene in which Gene's character, Lucy, first sees Rex's Captain Daniel, she is holding nothing but a candle, and she turns and the light that falls onto him makes him appear--I don't even have a word for what it makes him look like to me. I just know it's good. The music by Bernard Herrmann, who considered this musical score for the film his best, beautiful, and the chemistry between Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney is fantastic. The most romantic scene, and the saddest to me, is when Captain Gregg tells Lucy, or Lucia as he calls her, as she sleeps that it had all been a dream, that he had only been a dream, for he realizes that she must live a life without him for she is alive, a woman of the flesh, and he is a ghost, a spirit of the man he had once been.
     I wanted to cry, I truly did.
     When Rex left the picture, I found out just how immensly I was wrapped up in this picture. I knew that they would find each other in the end, it's just one of those films that you know what is going to happen, but you don't mind knowing. I was so in love with this film, and I so wanted them to finally be together, that I was looking forward to Gene's death because I knew that ws the only way they were going to be able to be together. I know, that's wrong to wish so, weird even. Yet that's how I feel. It's not fair that Rex had to wait for her, that he couldn't be with her as she is, and so he had to put his love for her on hold. AND, to make sure that she led a happy life, had to make her think it was all a dream. Truly, that was too much for me. So, yes, to end the agony--Rex's agony, Gene's agony, MY agony--I looked forward to her death (I was sad when she died though, but only for the maid, Martha. Poor dear . . .).
     It has been said that Rex Harrison was a "difficult" actor for directors to work with because he thought he should do a character one way, and the director another. He did have such problems as those with director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, but one would never be able to tell as they viewed this lovely film (or in any other film that Rex was in).
The perfumed parlor snake himself.
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     As fantatic as Rex's and Gene's acting was, the imitable George Sanders, who was Lucy's "love interest", but in all reality was a "perfumed parlor snake", did a superb job. I hated him the moment I saw him, but I understood as to how and why Lucy fell for him. I feel also that I should mention, for some might not catch it as I didn't at first, but the little girl who played Lucy's daughter as a child was none other then Natalie Wood.
Aw, the cuties . . .
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    All in all, my rating for this film is a 4/4 star rating. It's definitely one of my essentials that one must see before he or she is nothing more than dust that covers this earth.
Together again.
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