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

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Mar 18, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    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


    Nothing has given me more joy these days than
    discovering some magnificent films for the
    very first time courtesy of Fox's Studio
    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
    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
  2. James Pfann

    James Pfann Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 29, 2002
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    Great review Ron.

    I'm all over this one. [​IMG]
  3. Mike_S

    Mike_S Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 1, 2000
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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.

  4. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Mar 14, 2001
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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. [​IMG]
  5. jonathan_little

    jonathan_little Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 19, 2002
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  6. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

    Apr 23, 2002
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    Yes, great score, great film and review, too.
    Looking forward to the feature on Rex.[​IMG]
  7. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

    Jan 12, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Monroe, LA
    Real Name:
    Tim Glover
    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. [​IMG]
  8. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

    Jun 15, 2001
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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!!
  9. Rain

    Rain Producer

    Mar 21, 2001
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    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.

  10. Thomas Hart

    Thomas Hart Stunt Coordinator

    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. [​IMG]

    Now if only Columbia would get on the bandwagon.
  11. Justin Doring

    Justin Doring Screenwriter

    Jun 9, 1999
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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.
  12. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

    Mar 4, 2000
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    League City, Texas
    Real Name:
    Craig Seanor
    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! [​IMG]
  13. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    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!
  14. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Apr 15, 2002
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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

  15. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

    May 19, 2001
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  16. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

    Dec 10, 2000
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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.
  17. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer

    Feb 20, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Livonia, MI USA
    Real Name:
    Kenneth McAlinden
    Joe Caps said:
  18. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

    Jun 19, 2002
    Likes Received:
    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.)
  19. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Apr 15, 2002
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    can anybody help me out and let me know if there is a website dedicated to Bernard Hermann ?


  20. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

    Dec 20, 1999
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    Real Name:
    Peter Apruzzese
    Here you go: www.bernardherrmann.org . It's not updated very often, but there is a lot of information there. The "Talking Herrmann" forums have daily activity, though.

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