For Reel


The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
January 13, 2015, 6:01 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
4 Stars
The Ghost and Mrs. MuirThe recently widowed Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) moves into a supposedly haunted seaside cottage somewhere in Britain. It turns out that the house’s unnerving howls do indeed belong to a deceased sea captain (Rex Harrison) who stubbornly refuses to leave his home. The two strike up the most unusual of romances–he, attracted to her steadfastness and determination; she, a lover not overshadowed by her masculine counterpart. Although the romance is clear, it goes unspoken. In this way, the film shares something in common with Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece from the previous year, Notorious. In that film, a pair of lovers tortured each other because neither had the gull to simply say the words, “I love you.” Similarly, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a story about a love lost. Not even precisely because of its supernatural qualities, but because of the failure of acknowledging it until it is too late. Cinematographer Charles Lang was a natural fit for the project having shot The Uninvited, another terrific ghost story set in a seaside abode. His play with light not only creates haunting shadows, but suggests an entire world outside of plain view. In The Uninvited, those recesses were often threatening. In The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, however, those voids are comforting, occupied by souls as capable of love as the living.