Classic Movie Impressions: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I, have been exchanging classic movie suggestions this summer. This week I am talking about The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which she and her mom suggested for me, and she is talking about His Girl Friday, which I suggested for her.

I am so glad that Erin suggested this one. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would when I first heard about it.

The premise of this 1947 classic is rather simple. A widow, Mrs. Lucy Muir, wants to get away from her in-laws (a sister-in-law and mother-in-law) so she looks for a home to live in with her young daughter, Anna Muir, who is played by Natalie Wood. She finds a house that no one else seems to rent and later finds out it is because people believe that the home is haunted by a sea captain who owned the place and killed himself during a break from the sea.

The sea captain is played by Rex Harrison and the widow is played by Gene Tierney.

Not to give away too much but Lucy meets the ghost, and they form a friendship aimed at allowing Lucy to keep the home and not have to go back to live with her controlling in-laws. It will also allow the ghost, Captain Daniel Gregg (no, not Daniel Craig so no shirtless scenes here), to remain as a spirit around his home and keep it like it was when he was alive.

There are times during the movie that Lucy believes she has imagined the Captain and other times she is sure he is real. Sometimes even we as the viewer wonder if she is imagining him or not.

There is a terrible amount of sexual tension between the two, even though the captain is a ghost and there is no chance for a relationship between them.

I can’t deny that young Rex’s sex appeal just oozes from him as he starts to fall in love with Lucy, who he nicknames Lucia. I’ve always had the older Rex from My Fair Lady and Dr. Doolittle in my mind when I hear his name so to see him so young helps me understand why he became such a sought-after leading man in the 40s and 50s and beyond. I read in one article that he believed his character needed a beard in the movie but the studio fought it because they felt many women would want to see his handsome face. In the end, Rex won the fight.

The lighting and cinematography in the movie are very dramatic and set a romantic and rich mood.

An article on the Turner Classic Movies website describes Lucy and Daniel’s first meeting well:

The pools of lamplight and the soft, deep shadows create a rich atmosphere that evokes ghost story imagery but not menace. Rather, it is oddly welcoming and comforting and Bernard Herrmann’s score (one of his finest) is uneasy but curious rather than spooky. Harrison’s booming voice rises as she challenges him and then drops to a civil, at times admiring tone as they talk. Her courage impresses him and rather than scare her off, he comes to terms with his permanent houseguest: a co-existence that turns into a partnership and even something of an unspoken romance.

The movie does have quite a bit of humor in it but there is also an underlying sadness at times, especially since the Captain is a ghost and can’t truly be close to anyone.

The movie is based on a book by R.A. Dick.

“How unfortunate of a name,” I thought when I read this and after further research saw it was a pseudonym by an author named Josephine Leslie. She was an Irish writer who also wrote a book called The Devil and Mrs. Devine. I guess she had a theme going there with the titles. She did not write a third book in this vein, with her only other book being Light and Shade.

It was published in 1945 and made into a movie that was released in 1947, which is a pretty good turnaround to me.

The book and movie were also the basis for a sitcom, which ran for two years.

I won’t tell you what I thought of the ending, in case you haven’t seen it, but if you have seen it, let me know and maybe I can tell you in private. *wink*

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. It was such a great pic from Erin and her mom. She and I haven’t discussed the next movies we recommend for each other or even if we will, so I’ll keep you posted there. It has been a fun experience either way!

This was a fun behind-the-scenes photo I found online.

9 thoughts on “Classic Movie Impressions: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

  1. Pingback: Sunday Bookends: Smelly books, broken laptop keyboards, and summer is fading | Boondock Ramblings

  2. Lisa, I appreciate your review of this film. While I have never watched it, I can see that would be worthy of my time to watch. Rex Harrison definitely brings out a different presence than some of his later films. I can remember the television series which was inspired by the film. Hope Lange and Edward Mulhare starred.

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    • I hadn’t heard of the show until I was trying to find the movie to watch and then did some research. Like I said – it was better than I expected! I thought it was going to be a lot sillier than it was


  3. Pingback: Classic Movie Impressions: His Girl Friday – Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs..

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