“I’m here because you believe I’m here. Keep on believing, and I’ll always be real to you.”
A headstrong widow (Gene Tierney) develops an unusual relationship with the ghost (Rex Harrison) haunting her new seaside house.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Anna Lee Films
- Gene Tierney Films
- Historical Drama
- Joseph L. Mankiewicz Films
- Natalie Wood Films
- Rex Harrison Films
- Star-Crossed Lovers
- Widows and Widowers
Made during a decade replete with supernatural fantasies — including Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), A Guy Named Joe (1943), The Canterville Ghost (1944), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), A Matter of Life and Death / Stairway to Heaven (1946) and Portrait of Jennie (1948), among many others — The Ghost and Mrs. Muir remains one of the best of the bunch. Gene Tierney gives a mature and heartfelt performance in the title role as a widow and single mother determined to survive on her own; her romance with Harrison emerges naturally and gradually, alongside their respectful “working relationship”. Indeed, Philip Dunne’s nuanced screenplay — based on a novel by R.A. Dick — effectively weaves feminist issues into period romance, deftly incorporating a love triangle (George Sanders is nicely cast as a dubiously motivated author attracted to Tierney) and a number of plot twists along the way. Perhaps most satisfying is the fact that we’re led to wonder whether Tierney’s belief in Harrison’s presence — is he “real”, or a figment of her imagination? — might simply be a function of her loneliness and desire for “true love” at last; I’ll buy that as a compelling premise for a ghost story any day. Haunting cinematography, fine period sets, and Bernard Herrmann’s lovely score all contribute to making Mrs. Muir a surprisingly enjoyable minor classic.
Note: Nearly all reviews give away major spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it yet, be forewarned.
Note: Watch for Natalie Wood in a small role as Lucy’s young daughter, Anna.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Gene Tierney as Lucy Muir
- Rex Harrison as Captain Daniel
- Charles Lang’s cinematography
- Fine period detail and sets
- Philip Dunne’s romantic screenplay
- Bernard Herrman’s score
Yes, as a most unusual and satisfying supernatural romance.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)