DVD Review HTF REVIEW: "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Ronald Epstein

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The Ghost and Mrs. Muir





Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Year: 1947
Rated: NR
Film Length: 104 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
Subtitles: English and Spanish





Outstanding!

Nothing has given me more joy these days than
discovering some magnificent films for the
very first time courtesy of Fox's Studio
Classics
releases. With all the review material
I receive weekly, nothing is more satisfying than
watching B&W classics that I would have considered
cheesey in my youth some 20 years ago.

Joseph Mankiewicz's adaptation of R.A. Dick's novel
is an incredibly moving and tender romantic fantasy
that moves itself ever so slowly to a climatic ending
that will not fail to touch your inside. It is also
perhaps one of the best movies that the younger
generation has never heard of.



Set in England at the turn of the twentieth century,
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is the story of a
young widow, Mrs. Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) who had
just lost her husband nearly a year before. She
seeks to cut the ties to her in-laws, and sets out
to find a separate home for herself, her daughter
and her maid.



A real estate agent is hesitant to show her a
particular cottage by the sea, citing that the home
is haunted. While touring the cottage, Lucy hears
the laughter of the ghost of its former owner, Capt.
Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison). Though the ghost has
tried to scare away all the previous occupants of
the home, Lucy decides to rent the cottage anyway.



When all attempts by the ghost fail to evict the
new tenant, the Captain reveals himself to Mrs.
Muir. The Captain is captivated by her strength and
her beauty, and he agrees to peacefully share the
home with her. When a charismatic children's author
named Miles Fairly (George Sanders) becomes romantically
interested in Lucy, the ghost intervenes to save her
while dealing with feelings of his own.

To tell too much about where this film goes afterwards
would spoil it greatly for those who have yet to
savor it. Let me just say that this film succeeds
wonderfully thanks to its characters and the marvelous
chemistry between Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney. This
film has an extraordinary charm that works its way
into your heart.


How is the transfer?


Fox has done an exceptional job with giving us a
transfer that exceptionally preserves Charles Lang's
melancholy black-and-white photography. I found the
beginning of the movie to marred with a slight amount
of film blemish, but as the film continued, I was
surprised by how much cleaner the transfer looked.
Images are slightly soft, but contrast and black
levels are quite good. There is still a bit of
grain inherent in the transfer, but it is mostly
negligible. Now that I am done nit picking, I am
proud to say that this transfer gets a big thumbs up!



While the film's mono soundtrack may sound a little
harsh in the high ends, and overly flat in the low,
audio comes across quite strongly without any detectable
background hiss. This gives you the opportunity to
hear composer Bernard Herrmann's astoundingly sweet,
haunting and beautifully romantic score with
greater clarity than ever heard before.


Special Features



I was surprised to find not just one, but two
audio commentaries on this DVD. The first
commentary is with visual effects supervisor and
historian Greg Kimble and Christopher Husted, manager
of composer Bernard Herrmann's estate. The second
commentary features Jeanine Bassinger, chairman of
the film studies program of a Connecticut University
and Kenneth Geist, the biographer of director
Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It seems that every one of
these commentaries were recorded separately, so
don't expect any impromptu interaction between the
speakers. I listened to bits of the latter commentary
and found it to be full of information pertaining to
the production value of the film, including sets and
costume design. Mostly, however, this track is
dominated by Bassinger who takes us by the hand
through each scene dryly explaining what is happening
as if she were describing its contents to a blind
person. Geist showers us with quite a bit of
historical information about the film including Joseph
L. Mankiewicz's original choices for the female lead.
It's interesting to learn that Mankiewicz wasn't
overly proud of this film, though it did lead to a
friendship with actor Rex Harrison and three future
film projects. Geist is a huge fan of composer
Bernard Herrman citing this score to be amongst
the best he has ever done. Though both speakers
are a bit dry, there is a wealth of information to
be heard here.



Rex Harrison: The man who would be king is
a wonderful tribute to one of my all-time favorite
actors who I have personally adored since I was a
small child when I first discovered him in the
film My Fair lady. This is the story of a
young sick boy who discovered the theater at an
early age only to grow up and master the craft of
being an actor by landing small roles in major London
productions. This documentary dwells into Rex's
personal life including his stormy marriages and
his tours of duty during WWII. Of course, we take
a look at the actor's immense body of film work
thanks to the many clips shown throughout. Despite
the many hardships of the actor's life, this story
is lovingly told from the people that knew him best
including sons Carey & Noel Harrison, Biographer
Alexander Walker and actor Charlton Heston.
(length: approx. 44 minutes)



A still gallery gives you the opportunity
to browse through various lobby cards, posters,
publicity, set
and production stills.

Fox has also not only included the film's original
theatrical trailer
but trailers for other Fox
Studio Classics including All About Eve, An Affair
To Remember, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Gentleman's
Agreement
and How Green Was My Valley.

There seems to be a printing error on the DVD box
cover art which states that the film was an Academy
Award Nominee 1942
. This seems sort of odd for
a film that was released in 1947.


Final Thoughts



The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a beautifully
crafted film with exceptional performances. It
is no doubt the consummate film of paranormal
romance. Watch it once and you'll never forget it.

I can't recommend this film enough!


Release Date: April 1, 2003


All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality
 

Mike_S

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Ron, as usual a great review of a classic film. What can I say? I'm going to pick it up when it's released, mostly due to your glowing review. My girlfriend and I have been watching a few good classics of late: MILDRED PIERCE, DARK VICTORY, ALL ABOUT EVE to name a few. A well filmed black & white movie can be a sight to behold and can add so much more 'atmosphere' to the story. Cheers.

-Mike
 

george kaplan

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This one was a definite purchase for me anyway, but it's nice to hear that the transfer is good, and some nice extras. Thanks.
 

jonathan_little

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This gives you the opportunity to
hear composer Bernard Herrmann's astoundingly sweet,
haunting and beautifully romantic score with
greater clarity than ever heard before.
FYI to anybody who enjoys the score, Varese Sarabande released the original 1947 tracks to Herrmann's Ghost and Mrs. Muir, with most cues being presented in stereo. There is an issue with the finale track on the CD (it fades out rather abruptly during final note), but besides that, the disc sounds fine for a 1947 recording.
 

Tim Glover

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Nice review Ron. Very refreshing and kudos to Fox who is giving us some classic films with the utmost care and treatment on dvd.

Nothing wrong with today's movies...but some of the old classics like this one, Gentlemen's Agreement, and Sunset Boulevard have the most realistic special effects of any new movie today: I'm referring to Great Acting, direction, and screenplay.
 

Jeff_HR

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Post Edited By Administrator - Please Do Not Name Retailers That Break Street Dates

Picked my copy up tonite. I'll watch it this week. Long live Black & White films!!
 

Rain

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Rain
Another one I'm looking forward to seeing for the first time.

It seems that Fox has this classic film series down. I hope the DVDs sell like hotcakes so they are encouraged to continue the series beyond the end of the year.

I'm this close (picture me holding my index finger and thumb slightly apart) to a major DVD shopping spree and I've got my eye on at least 2 more from this Fox series.

 

Thomas Hart

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Jun 24, 2000
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Ron, I just got done watching this film myself and I agree with you on every aspect of this wonderful disc. Fox has done fantastic job with this DVD and the entire line of Fox Studio Classics so far.

I was very surprised (and delighted) to see an A&E biography special on this disc (since I don't remember it being announced in any press-releases). I don't believe I have seen one of these as an extra on a DVD before and I hope it is not the last time either. Hopefully, Gene Tierney will get one for "Laura" later this year.

Kudos to Fox for presenting these films in a manner fitting of the status they deserve.


Now if only Columbia would get on the bandwagon.
 

Justin Doring

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Although I've never seen the film, I was planning on purchasing the DVD, but the fact that it contains a commentary by Christopher Husted makes it a must buy. For fans of Herrmann, I highly recommend Husted's biography on him entitled A Heart at Fire's Center.
 

Craig S

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Another great review, Ron. Like you, I am going through a phase of discovering these classic films. I don't think we can praise Fox enough for the Studio Classics line. I have been overwhelmed with these discs thus far, and I'll be picking up every release in the series. These are Criterion-quality titles for half the price. I hope sales are good enough for Fox to continue the series for several years, or at least until the spine numbers reach triple-digits!
 

Ronald Epstein

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While many people have complained about the
Sunrise situation (including my complaint
in a recent review), I think Fox has made it very
easy for people to earn that free DVD.

All the Studio Classics I have seen to date
are top-notch films. These classics truly represent
some of the the best classic product the studio has
to offer. I have not been disappointed with any of
these releases.

As I stated in my review, it's amazing to me how
much I enjoy these B&W films. Twenty years ago I
just avoided watching anything old that didn't star
the Marx Brothers or James Cagney. Today, 39 years
too late, I am discovering Hepburn, Davis, Grant,
Lancaster, Potier, Powell, Loy, and more!
 

oscar_merkx

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Ron thanks for the great review. I was already going to purchase this simply because of the classics that Fox are putting on dvd.

I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that both Joseph
L. Mankiewicz & Bernard Herrmann were involved. One more reason to buy this

 

Jon Robertson

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While many people have complained about the
Sunrise situation (including my complaint
in a recent review), I think Fox has made it very
easy for people to earn that free DVD.
If only!

By all means keep the promotion going, but just sell the damn thing or extend the offer to overseas applicants. This situation is really making me resent Fox, despite all their superb discs!
 

Joe Caps

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to Justin Doring - while Chris Husted certainly is a Herrmann authority, Husted did NOT write the book Heart at Fires Center. That was steven Smith.
BTW - Ghost and Mrs. Muir was Herrmanns own favorite of his film scores.
 

DeeF

Screenwriter
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Jun 19, 2002
Messages
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In fact, the score to The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was the basis for Herrmann's opera of Wuthering Heights, produced in the 60s.

(In case anybody's confused, Herrmann did not write the score to the Hollywood movie of Wuthering Heights.)
 

oscar_merkx

Senior HTF Member
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can anybody help me out and let me know if there is a website dedicated to Bernard Hermann ?

Cheers

Oscar
 

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