Lovely young widow Carolyn Muir, her two young children, and the maid discover that the New England seaside house they've moved into is haunted by the former owner -- an old salt named ... See full summary »
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Mrs. Edwin Muir - Lucy - widowed for one year, decides to move out of her controlling in-law's home in London to the English seaside with her adolescent daughter Anna and their long devoted maid Martha. Despite the rental agent trying to dissuade her, Lucy decides to rent Gull Cottage at Whitecliff-by-the-Sea. She learns first hand before she makes the decision the rental agent's hesitance is because the cottage is haunted, supposedly by its now deceased former owner, seaman Captain Daniel Gregg. After she moves in, she does meet the spirit of Captain Gregg face-to-face. Because she refuses to be scared away by his presence, the two come to an understanding, including that he will not make his presence known to Anna. As time progresses, the two develop a friendship and a bond. Despite his statements to her that she needs to live her life including finding another husband, Daniel seems not to approve of any of the men that enter her life, ...Written by
Gene Tierney's first approach to the character of Lucy Muir was playful, almost screwball. After a conference between Darryl F. Zanuck and director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the first two days shooting were redone so that Tierney could give the character more depth. The change resulted in huge critical acclaim for the actress. See more »
When Lucy is talking with her sister-in-law, Eva, and her mother-in-law in her room, Eva is facing Lucy and the telescope is right behind Lucy. Captain Gregg moves behind Lucy to the telescope and then moves the telescope, rotating it 90 degrees. Eva should have noticed that the telescope turned all by itself, since Captain Gregg was not visible to them, but she doesn't react to anything. See more »
This is he 20th century. We must rid ourselves of the old fetishes and taboos.
See more »
Opening credits prologue: LONDON at the turn of the century. See more »
After her husband dies, Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) decides to move away from London to a small seaside resort. She has to persuade the real estate agent, Mr. Coombe (Robert Coote), to show her the home that sounds most attractive to her--Gull Cottage. At first she can't figure out why he's so reluctant to pursue the home with her, but while she's looking at the "cottage", she experiences an apparent haunting. Both she and Mr. Coombe go running out of the house. To Mr. Coombe's surprise, Lucy decides to rent the Gull Cottage anyway.
Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz' The Ghost and Mrs. Muir combines a number of genres in an unusual way, gently poking fun at the conventions of each as they arrive in turn. The film begins as if it will be a somewhat traditional 1940s horror story. The setting is reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940) and Lewis Allen's The Uninvited (1944). Mrs. Muir's first visit to the home has classic understated "eerie" moments, with Mrs. Muir dressed in a creepy, Gothic black veil, coat and dress (ostensibly, she's still in mourning).
Shortly after, the film quickly moves into more comic territory. A more straightforward dramatic section follows, then romance, back to drama, and finally it ends as a fantasy film. That might sound like a bit of a mess, but Mankiewicz easily unifies the proceedings so that the genre tour is really only apparent on analysis. In a book about the film by Frieda Grafe, published by the British Film Institute, Mankiewicz is quoted as saying that he considered the film to be "hack work", and that his intention was primarily to show the studio that he was capable of delivering efficient craftsmanship. While a quick glance at my rating confirms that I wouldn't denigrate the film as "hack work", the genre parade is interesting in light of Mankiewicz' stated intent.
A central theme throughout The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, directly hinted at a number of times by dialogue about progressivist attitudes in the twentieth century, is that of gender roles. The theme is most overtly realized when Mrs. Muir pens a salty seafaring book and takes it to a publisher. She is dismissed at first with an assumption that she must be presenting shallow, sappy "women's literature", but is quickly published once Mr. Sproule (Whitford Kane) realizes the novelty of the book. Of course, he assumes that she must have been shopping it for her husband, or some other gentleman friend.
The theme is worked throughout the film in countless more subtextual ways, also, and leads to an interesting interpretation of the bulk of the film--is Captain Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison) real? Or is he a figment of Lucy and her daughter's imaginations? There is a strong suggestion that he was just imaginary, sparked in Lucy's mind by his portrait, the house, and the maritime décor still present. Literally, the film suggests at one point that Lucy and her daughter are fooling themselves into believing he was imaginary, but it could be read as a double cross (or a double negation)--we are fooled into believing that they're just fooling themselves, and the reality is that Captain Gregg is a catalyst for allowing the gender role changes exhibited by Lucy and her daughter, who even basically asks her boyfriend to marry her, rather than the other way around.
At any rate, real or not, Captain Gregg is an enjoyable character in an enjoyable, lightly comic film that pleasantly mixes a variety of genres. Fans of the film should be aware that it was based on a novel by R.A. Dick, and spawned a television sitcom with the same title that first aired in the U.S. in 1968 and ran for 50 episodes.
66 of 76 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this