It can be aggravating to fall in love with someone who can’t love you back. It’s worse, however, when you fall in love, they love you as well, and you still, for some reason, can’t be together. You now, like one of you happens to be a ghost. That is exactly the problem that faces Mrs. Muir (Gene Tierney) in the 1947 romantic film, The Ghost And Mrs. Muir.
A year ago, Mrs. Muir’s husband died unexpectedly and now she has decided to move, along with her daughter (a young Natalie Wood) and her friend and maid (Edna Best), to live by the sea. She finds a great bargain on the perfect house, but soon discovers that the home is haunted by its previous owner, Captain Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison). After some quick decision making, she takes the home anyway, and Captain Gregg soon learns that she has more spirit than he ever thought possible. Intrigued by her passion for the house, as well as her aspirations of living there permanently, this unlikely pair decides to share this home together.
Before long they become comfortable with each other, and although it is impossible to be together in a romantic sense, they can’t stop themselves from falling in love emotionally. When Mrs. Muir begins to run out of money, Gregg has Mrs. Muir write down his life story and have it published, enabling her to avoid moving in with her in-laws.
While trying to convince a publisher to see her, Mrs. Muir meets a successful writer named Miles Fairley (George Stevens). He is instantly infatuated by her and begins to pursue her with an uninhibited determination. Torn between two very different men, Mrs. Muir realizes that she has to make a decision that will affect the rest of her life… and perhaps even longer.
With such an unusual storyline, The Ghost And Mrs. Muir embodies an abundance of originality. Gene Tierney, in a role unlike everything for which she is famous, is forced to face the realities of her life head on. Her heart is obviously leaning in one direction, but how can she spend her life in love with a ghost? The film, and her performance, go beyond that of a normal romance film.
Joseph L. Mankiewiscz has an uncanny ability to create highly entertaining films on a consistent basis. The Ghost And Mrs. Muir could easily be thrown next to his other great films and overlooked, but when you take each one individually, it is clear that he was a brilliant director. His films cover every end of the spectrum, and the one thing that they all have in common is their quality.
Both of the leading male roles are intriguing because, although the story is certainly a drama, each of their roles provides the audience with a regular dose of comedy. Rex Harrison may not be remembered for his sense of humor and comedic timing, once again proves that as an actor he knows how to deliver his lines better than most. His character is brass and undignified, yet Harrison had no problem conveying the character’s unsavory quintessence without ruffling the feathers of the Hays Code.
Although his character couldn’t be further from that of Rex Harrison, George Sanders is equally amusing, and if possible, even more alluring than usual. His dialogue is slyly cunning, and once again, his voice hypnotizes and manipulates everyone into falling for his charm. Sanders played similar roles to this many times in his career (most notably in Rebecca and All About Eve), yet I never seem to grow weary of his performances. Whether it’s his mesmerizing voice or his deliciously wicked smile, he somehow continues to manipulate everyone into loving him… even when we know we shouldn’t.
Overall, The Ghost And Mrs. Muir is a wonderfully enjoyable film that has a little something for everyone. If you are having trouble embracing the fantasy love story, the haunting score (no pun intended) by Bernard Herrmann is sure to sweep you away. I am always surprised by the sentimentality of this film and find myself more engrossed and connected than I ever expect. The characters are so enthralling that it is easy to become swept away by the splendor of such a basic, albeit complex, love story.Back to Home for More Reviews