IMDb > Blithe Spirit (1945)
Blithe Spirit
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Blithe Spirit (1945) More at IMDbPro »

Blithe Spirit -- David Lean's delightful film version of Noël Coward's theater sensation stars Rex Harrison as a novelist who cheekily invites a medium to his house to conduct a séance, hoping the experience will inspire a book he's working on. Things go decidedly not as planned when she summons the spirit of his dead first wife, a severe inconvenience for his current one.


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7.1/10   3,256 votes »
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Down 1% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
David Lean (adapted for the screen by) &
Ronald Neame (adapted for the screen by) ...
View company contact information for Blithe Spirit on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
14 May 1945 (UK) See more »
One Wife Too Many
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Won Oscar. Another 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Ghosts Set Free With Red Meat See more (48 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Directed by
David Lean 
Writing credits
David Lean (adapted for the screen by) &
Ronald Neame (adapted for the screen by) &
Anthony Havelock-Allan (adapted for the screen by)

Noel Coward  play (uncredited)
Noel Coward  screenplay (uncredited)

Produced by
Noel Coward .... producer
Original Music by
Richard Addinsell 
Cinematography by
Ronald Neame (photographed in Technicolor by)
Film Editing by
Jack Harris 
Casting by
Irene Howard (uncredited)
Art Direction by
C.P. Norman 
Set Decoration by
Arthur Taksen (uncredited)
Costume Design by
Rahvis (dresses)
Makeup Department
Tony Sforzini .... makeup artist
Vivienne Walker .... hairdresser
Production Management
Anthony Havelock-Allan .... in charge of production
Norman Spencer .... unit manager
Sydney Streeter .... unit manager (as S.S. Streeter)
Herbert Smith .... executive in charge of production (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
George Pollock .... assistant director
Art Department
G.E. Calthrop .... art supervisor: Noel Coward
T. Hopewell Ash .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Sound Department
John Cook .... sound recordist (as John Cooke)
Desmond Dew .... sound recordist
Cyril Crowhurst .... dubbing editor (uncredited)
Roy Day .... sound camera operator (uncredited)
Percy Dayton .... boom operator (uncredited)
Anthony J. Kay .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
George Paternoster .... assistant boom operator (uncredited)
Alan Whatley .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Tom Howard .... special effects
Visual Effects by
Charles Staffell .... back projection (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
William McLeod .... camera operator (as Wm. McLeod)
Dennis Bartlett .... focus puller (uncredited)
Wilfrid Newton .... still photographer (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Hilda Collins .... dress supervisor
Editorial Department
Margery Saunders .... assembly editor (uncredited)
Norah Walsh .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Muir Mathieson .... conductor: The London Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Isaacs .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
Joan Bridge .... for Technicolor: associate colour director
Natalie Kalmus .... for Technicolor: colour director
George Minassian .... for Technicolor: technician
Yvonne Axeworthy .... assistant continuity (uncredited)
Maggie Unsworth .... continuity (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
96 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Argentina:Atp | Australia:PG | Finland:K-16 | Spain:T | Sweden:15 | UK:A (original rating) | UK:U (tv rating) | UK:U (video rating) (1991) (1993) (2003) | USA:Not Rated | West Germany:6 (fr 16)

Did You Know?

The original Broadway production of "Blithe Spirit" written by Noel Coward opened at the Morosco Theater on November 5, 1941, ran for 657 performances and closed on June 5, 1943. Jacqueline Clarke repeated her role in the film.See more »
Crew or equipment visible: When Ruth leaves Charles and Elvira to go to bed, the camera pulls back into the drawing room, the door closes, and in the gloss paintwork the ghostly reflection of the crew can be seen.See more »
[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 »
Movie Connections:
AlwaysSee more »


Is 'Blithe Spirit' based on a book?
What kind of car was Charles driving?
Of what significance are the black armbands on Charles' jacket?
See more »
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Ghosts Set Free With Red Meat, 16 May 2010
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

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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