Film Flick: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Thursday, September 20, 2012

As the movie starts rolling, and fades from black, a familiar studio logo appears on the screen. But no trumpets accompany the Fox icon, as is usual. Instead, Bernard Herrmann's gorgeous overture swells, plunging one into the emotive moods of the film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir . The movie soundtrack he considered his personal best, Herrmann's music is romantic, and expressive, always buoying the scene but never becoming too flashy or distracting from the love story playing out on the screen. 

Against her controlling in-laws' wishes, widow Lucy Muir is determined to take her child and maid to live independently on their own. Questioning why the rent is low on their new home may seem like looking a gift horse in the mouth, but Lucy Muir may have gotten more than she bargained for; the house is haunted. Indomitable, Mrs. Muir makes peace with the ghost, the former Captain Daniel Gregg. They become friends, and, when money runs low, they become something more- partners. Lucy ghostwrites the story of the sea captain's life to save their home. They may even be something more than friends and something more than partners, but when a living man comes into Lucy's life, Captain Gregg must question what that means for his place in their cottage by the sea. 

The premise of this film sounds like something along the lines of 1960 sitcoms like I Dream of Jeannie or Bewitched , but- though comedic moments are most definitely there- this story transcends the limits of genres like horror, or comedy or even romance. It shifts from one genre to the other in an fluid way, finally becoming a story that remarks the nature of accomplishment, independence, and making oneself happy. Gene Tierney, made famous for her femme fatale role as the title character in Laura , plays  a warmer, more loving character here- Lucy Muir (playfully christened "Luchezia" by the Captain). Fiercely independent, intelligent and practical, Mrs.Muir navigates the sometimes lonely path of independence with remarkable aplomb. Meanwhile, Rex Harrison's deep voice is perfectly suited to the role of the very admirable sea captain, and Miles Fairley rounds out the love triangle as the smooth talking fellow author. Unlike other, more modern love stories between the dead and the living, this story doesn't play up the gothic aspects, nor does anyone come back from the dead. But what I love most about this film is that it is an unconventional love story not just in the sense that the characters are unusual, but in what it says about women, and the underlying message that while love and connection with others is important, love is not all-defining nor even necessary  for a happy life. Becoming yourself is what matters, and making memories worth having. 

Speaking of memories worth having, watching this movie will be a memory in the making. 


  1. i have never heard of this movie! it sounds very interesting

    <3 katherine
    of corgis and cocktails

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  2. I LOVE black and white, old movies <3 the lightning is often superb. ANd this one sounds good, I'll check it out ASAP.

    Life is a romantic poem

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