Senior HTF Member
- Jul 3, 1997
- Real Name
- Ronald Epstein
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
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
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.
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.
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