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Blithe Spirit (1945)

 -  Comedy | Fantasy  -  14 May 1945 (UK)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 2,984 users  
Reviews: 47 user | 36 critic

Adapted from a play by Noel Coward, Charles and his second wife Ruth, are haunted by the ghost of his first wife, Elvira. Medium Madame Arcati tries to help things out by contacting the ghost.

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(adapted for the screen by), (adapted for the screen by), 3 more credits »
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Title: Blithe Spirit (1945)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Constance Cummings ...
Kay Hammond ...
Margaret Rutherford ...
Hugh Wakefield ...
Joyce Carey ...
Jacqueline Clarke ...
Edith (as Jaqueline Clarke)
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Storyline

To get background for a new book, author Charles and his second wife Ruth light-heartedly arrange for local mystic Madame Arcati to give a séance. The unfortunate result is that Charles' first wife Elvira returns from beyond the grave to make his life something of a misery. Ruth too gets increasingly irritated with her supernatural rival, but M.Arcati is at her wit's end as to how to sort things out. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

One Wife Too Many

Genres:

Comedy | Fantasy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 May 1945 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Uma Mulher do Outro Mundo  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Kay Hammond did not appear in the original movie trailer; instead doors and windows were shown opening and closing to indicate her presence. See more »

Goofs

After requesting, and drinking "Dry Martinis" the liquid in the glasses is distinctly brown instead of clear. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
words on a Victorian sampler: "When we are young / We read and believe / The most fantastic things. / When we are older / We learn with regret / That these things cannot be"
Narrator: We are quite, quite wrong!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The voice at the end of the credits page that utters, "We are quite, quite WRONG!" is Noel Coward's See more »

Connections

Version of Blithe Spirit (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

Always
(uncredited)
Written by Irving Berlin
Sung by Jacqueline Clarke
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Ghosts Set Free With Red Meat
16 May 2010 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

When Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit it was to give British audiences something to laugh at during the blitz. Odd that he picked a subject like spiritualism which became popular in the United Kingdom after the first World War when people tried to contact loved ones left dead on the Western front. It was a serious thing back in the Twenties, yet Coward managed to find a whole lot of laughs in it.

Blithe Spirit concerns a skeptical mystery writer who was twice married, his first wife dying of illness and he's now married to the second one. The husband here is Rex Harrison and he wants to write another novel with the background being spiritualism. He invites a well known spiritual medium in Margaret Rutherford for dinner with the express purpose of seeing how she operates.

Well we can't say that Rutherford didn't warn Harrison about the unintended effects that eating red meat can have. The London broil that he was serving did look superb. She has her séance with the usual rappings, but when its over it turns out that Rutherford has managed to materialize Harrison's first wife Kay Hammond who only Harrison can see.

Having two wives even if they exist on a different plane is a bit much for the household. The ghostly Hammond who looks fetching in that green tint she's photographed in wants to assert herself in what was her home. But that kind of gives current wife Constance Cummings a bad attitude because she's come to feel this is her home now.

I can't go any farther, but simply to say that Coward gives us a whole lot to think about maybe leaving the dead alone. Also just what will the arrangements be in a next life?

Blithe Spirit debuting in London in 1941 in the height of the blitz ran for 1997 performances there and Kay Hammond and Margaret Rutherford recreated their roles for this film. The other stars were Cecil Parker and Fay Compton. When it got to Broadway, the male lead was taken by Clifton Webb and I can certainly see Mildred Natwick in the part of the medium. The wives were Peggy Wood and Jacqueline Scott. Coward who narrates this film off screen also played the husband in touring companies.

Coward's wit is certainly present in the play, but the accent here is on the physical comedy and the whole absurdity of the situation. Rex Harrison on the strength of the popularity of this film on both sides of the pond got a contract from 20th Century Fox studios in America. And the role of Madame Arcati the spiritualist became the most well known one that Margaret Rutherford ever essayed until the Miss Marple films of the Sixties and her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The VIPS.

If Blithe Spirit does anything it will make you think about just what kind of arrangements one will have in a next life. Coward provides excellent food for thought.


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