(play) (as Noel Coward), (adaptation)


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Blithe Spirit (1945)
Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

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.

Director: David Lean
Stars: Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, Kay Hammond
Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

A spy spoof in the 60s tradition featuring the comic book heroine Modesty Blaise set in the Italian Mediterranean.

Director: Joseph Losey
Stars: Monica Vitti, Terence Stamp, Dirk Bogarde
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

During World War I, an army private is accused of desertion during battle. The officer assigned to defend him at his court-martial finds out there is more to the case than meets the eye.

Director: Joseph Losey
Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Tom Courtenay, Leo McKern
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A clever fortune-hunter with a penchant for murder does in his elderly, supposedly rich, wife and manages to get away with it. After an investigation results in a decision of 'accidental ... See full summary »

Director: Lewis Gilbert
Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Margaret Lockwood, Kay Walsh
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

British diplomat Harrington Brande takes up his new post in Spain accompanied by his son Nicholas. The posting is something of a disappointment to the elder Brande who was hoping for a ... See full summary »

Director: Philip Leacock
Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Jon Whiteley, Michael Hordern
Justine (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

In Alexandria, in 1938, Darley, a young British schoolmaster and poet, makes friends through Pursewarden, the British consular officer, with Justine, the beautiful and mysterious wife of a ... See full summary »

Directors: George Cukor, Joseph Strick
Stars: Anouk Aimée, Dirk Bogarde, Robert Forster
Victim (1961)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A prominent lawyer goes after a blackmailer who threatens gay men with exposure (homosexual acts still being illegal). But he's gay himself...

Director: Basil Dearden
Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Sylvia Syms, Dennis Price
Sebastian (1968)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A British mathematician, working on code decryption, unexpectedly falls in love with another decrypter. This leads them to a complicated intrigue within the codebreakers.

Director: David Greene
Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Susannah York, Lilli Palmer
Accident (1967)
Drama | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

At Oxford, Austrian student Anna is dating fellow student William whom she plans to marry but she ends up sleeping with two unhappily married Oxford professors instead.

Director: Joseph Losey
Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Stanley Baker, Jacqueline Sassard
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

When their deeply religious mother dies, the seven Hook children bury her in the garden and continue life as normal. Then their absent father , Charlie, reappears...

Director: Jack Clayton
Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Margaret Leclere, Pamela Franklin
Action | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

A clergyman leaves the priesthood over the church's indifferent position during the Spanish Civil War but finds himself attracted to a beautiful entertainer.

Director: Nunnally Johnson
Stars: Ava Gardner, Dirk Bogarde, Joseph Cotten
Blithe Spirit (TV Movie 1956)
Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Directors: Noël Coward, Frederick De Cordova
Stars: Lauren Bacall, Claudette Colbert, Noël Coward


Complete credited cast:
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Geoffrey Lumb ...
Mildred Trares ...
Joan White ...


Add Full Plot | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on play | See All (1) »


Comedy | Fantasy





Release Date:

7 December 1966 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hallmark Hall of Fame: Blithe Spirit (#16.2)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The original Broadway production of "Blithe Spirit" written by Noël Coward opened at the Morosco Theater on November 5, 1941, ran for 657 performances and closed on June 5, 1943. See more »


Version of Blithe Spirit (1945) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The guest is a ghost, and the host is aghast
13 January 2004 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

Greetings to Barbara Siek and everyone else in the Dirk Bogarde chat group. The 1966 television production of 'Blithe Spirit' suffers in comparison to David Lean's film version, but on its own merits it's an enjoyable drawing-room comedy with a supernatural theme.

During World War Two, there was an increase in plays and films dealing with life after death, and ghosts; these tended to be comedies or light dramas with happy endings, rather than spooky horror stories. As the war's death tolls rose, audiences wanted to be assured that there is indeed an afterlife, and that it's a nice place to go.

Noël Coward wrote 'Blithe Spirit' in a single week(!) while staying in one of the guest cottages at the Hotel Portmeirion, a remarkable seaside resort in Gwynedd, North Wales. Portmeirion is now well-known as the resort which was used as the Village in the 1960s tv series 'The Prisoner'. But for many decades, Portmeirion attracted prominent authors and intellectuals from Britain and America, who wrote some of their best works in the bracing air and enchanting vistas of this unusual village.

In this tv production, Dirk Bogarde stars as Charles Condomine, a successful novelist now married to sensible Ruth following the death of his headstrong and eccentric first wife Elvira. Charles has no truck with any supernatural nonsense, but he's currently working on a novel that has supernatural themes. Accordingly, he's decided to engage a medium to hold a seance in his drawing-room ... strictly as research for his novel, of course.

SPOILERS COMING. The seance has unexpected results, when clairvoyant Madame Arcati manages to summon the ghost of Elvira ... who straight away begins taunting, daunting and haunting her husband Charles as if she had never left. Things are made worse for Charles (and funnier for us) because he's the only one who can see and hear Elvira. Eventually, Elvira nobbles the brakes on Charles's car, hoping to kill him so they can be reunited in the afterworld. But Elvira's scheme kills Ruth instead ... and now Charles has *two* ghostly wives tormenting him!

Although filmed on a low budget with static camera work, this production of 'Blithe Spirit' is a delight, featuring some deft performances and (with one exception) some splendid casting. In the central role, Dirk Bogarde is properly dashing and urbane. He's quite funny as he betrays his helpless bafflement at being haunted by one ghostly wife, and then two. In a couple of scenes, Bogarde seems just slightly effeminate ... but he can't possibly be any worse in this respect than Clifton Webb, who played the same role when 'Blithe Spirit' ran on Broadway.

Rosemary Harris usually strikes me as colourless, but in this case it's intentional and she turns it to her advantage. As the ghostly Elvira, Ms Harris plays her role in grey sackcloth and sandals. She's quite convincingly inhuman, a spectre who clearly relishes her unearthliness. Ms Harris is a delight as she casually drops the names of several famous dead people who are now her ghostly neighbours.

Second wife Ruth is played by Rachel Roberts: an odd casting choice, as Roberts was at this time married to Rex Harrison, who played Charles Condomine in the earlier (and much better) film of 'Blithe Spirit'. Roberts's presence here only calls attention to the previous film. I've never been impressed with Rachel Roberts as an actress. Here, however, her mannered tics and crotchets are less obtrusive than usual ... and Ms Roberts looks slightly more attractive than usual, so long as she keeps her face towards the camera. When she turns in profile, we see that bizarrely upturned nose of hers, which looks as if it's been caught in a skyhook. Interestingly, Roberts gives a much better performance in the third act (as the ghostly Ruth, taunting her husband after her death) than she does in the first act, as the live Ruth who can't figure out why her husband is acting so strangely.

The only fly in the ectoplasm is the utterly untalented Ruth Gordon as the medium who causes all the problems. I have never found Ruth Gordon remotely funny in any of her roles. (I especially loathed her in 'Harold and Maude'.) As the flamboyant Madame Arcati here, Gordon is aware that she is giving a 'performance' as a 'character', and so she's mannered accordingly. Gordon does that annoying little mouth twitch of hers, that she seems to feel is an adequate substitute for constructing a plausible characterisation. Mme Arcati commutes to her seances via bicycle: I shouldn't mind getting a glimpse of Ruth Gordon riding a bike (especially if she falls off), but here she makes her exits and entrances on foot, trundling the bicycle alongside while she speaks a few lines about riding through the forest. The bike is nothing more than an unwieldy prop, to match Ruth Gordon's unwieldy performance. I would like to have seen Bea Lillie's performance as Arcati in 'High Spirits', the Broadway musical version of this material. In fact, I vaguely recall another tv version of 'Blithe Spirit', in which Hattie Jacques was hilarious in the same role that Ruth Gordon handles so badly here. Just the idea of Hattie Jacques on a bicycle gets me laughing.

This tv version of 'Blithe Spirit' is enjoyable, but it's a pale wraith alongside the film version starring Rex Harrison and Margaret Rutherford. Also, Coward's script has been somewhat truncated in order to fit into the television format. I'll rate this tv production 6 out of 10, and I recommend that you get a video of the Rex Harrison movie instead.

6 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss Blithe Spirit (1966) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page