The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

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This article is about the film. For the TV series, see The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (TV series).
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
The-Ghost-and-Mrs-Muir-Posters.jpg
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Produced by Fred Kohlmar
Written by R. A. Dick (novel)
Philip Dunne
Starring Gene Tierney
Rex Harrison
George Sanders
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography Charles Lang
Edited by Dorothy Spencer
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s)
  • June 26, 1947 (1947-06-26) (U.S.)
Running time 104 min.
Country United States
Language English

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) is a romantic fantasy film starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. It is based on a 1945 novel written by Josephine Leslie under the pseudonym of R. A. Dick. In 1945, 20th Century Fox bought the film rights to the novel, which had been published only in the United Kingdom at that time. It was shot entirely in California.

Plot[edit]

In early 1900s England a young widow, Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney), moves to the seaside village of Whitecliff. She rents Gull Cottage where she takes up residence with her young daughter Anna (Natalie Wood) and her maid Martha (Edna Best), despite the fierce disapproval of her mother- and sister-in-law. She falls in love with the house despite discovering that it is haunted. On the first night she is visited by the ghostly apparition of the former owner, a roguish but harmless sea captain named Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison), who reluctantly promises to make himself known only to her; Anna is too young for ghosts. When Lucy's investment income dries up, he dictates to her his memoirs, entitled Blood and Swash. His racy recollections make the book a bestseller, allowing Lucy to buy the house. During the course of writing the book they fall in love, but as both realise it is a hopeless situation, Daniel tells her she should find a real (live) man.

When she visits the publisher in London Lucy becomes attracted to suave Miles Fairley (George Sanders), a writer of children's stories known as "Uncle Neddy," who helps her obtain an interview. Despite a rocky beginning, the publisher agrees to publish the captain's book. Fairley follows her back to Whitecliff and begins a whirlwind courtship. Captain Gregg, initially jealous of their relationship, decides finally to disappear and cease being an obstacle to her happiness. While Lucy sleeps, Daniel convinces her that he was just a dream. Shortly thereafter while again visiting her publisher in London, Lucy pays a surprise visit to Fairley's home--there, she discovers not only that Miles is already married with two children, but that this sort of thing has happened before with other women. Lucy leaves heartbroken and returns to spend the rest of her life as a single woman in Gull Cottage, with Martha to look after her.

About ten years later Anna (Vanessa Brown) returns with her Navy lieutenant fiancé and tells her mother that she knew about Captain Gregg and Miles Fairley all the time, rekindling faint memories in her mother of the captain. (It is also revealed that Fairley has become fat and bald and that his wife and children have finally left him.)

Lucy spends a long peaceful life at the cottage. Captain Gregg appears before her at the moment of her death. Reaching out, he lifts her young spirit free of her body. The two walk out of the front door arm in arm, into the mist.

Cast[edit]

Awards[edit]

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir received a 1947 Academy Award nomination for Cinematography.

American Film Institute Lists

Adaptations to other media[edit]

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was adapted as an hour-long radio play on the December 1, 1947 broadcast of Lux Radio Theater with Charles Boyer and Madeleine Carroll, and was also adapted on the August 16, 1951 Screen Director's Playhouse with Boyer and Jane Wyatt.

From 1968 to 1970, a TV sitcom entitled The Ghost & Mrs. Muir starring Hope Lange and Edward Mulhare aired on NBC and ABC with the same premise as the book and film, but with a contemporary American setting. Mrs. Muir's first name was changed from Lucy to Carolyn for the series.

In the summer of 1972, Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) launched an original musical production called "She Haunts Me" which was also based on “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”. The book was by John Ott, music by Robert Kole and the lyrics by Richard F. Curry and Joan Javits (co-writer of the iconic Christmas song “Santa Baby”).

The musical was directed by SCSU Prof. Thom Peterson and stage managed by William Alberino, an alumnus of the University and an English teacher and drama coach at Wilbur Cross High School, New Haven, CT and later at Daniel Hand High School, Madison, CT. The highlights of the show were the musical numbers: “Blood and Swash”, “The Summer Has Ended” and “Life is Just a Merry-Go-Round”.

In the rousing “Blood and Swash”, newspaper boys line the apron of the stage, hawking their newspapers to the audience with the headline “Blood and Swash! It’s outsold the Bible eleven to one!” (“Blood and Swash”, of course being the title of the novel Mrs. Muir has written based on the Captain’s memoirs).

One of the most memorable and cleverly staged songs in “She Haunts Me” is “The Summer Has Ended”. The song is used to illustrate the passing of time. The scene is always the same: Mrs. Muir sitting on a carousel in a park listening to a concert and watching couples dance. The song is reprised throughout the show and done in different musical styles to represent the changing eras (e.g., Charleston, Foxtrot, Swing, Bop) as the dancers’ clothes and dance moves change along with it.

The most spectacular moment in the show comes when the song "Life is Just a Merry-Go-Round" is reprised in the 2nd Act. As Mrs. Muir leaves her seat on the carousel for the last time with the intention of returning to her seaside cottage and her beloved Captain, the carousel begins to spin and lights up - for the first and only time during the show - as the lights go down. The audience is astounded to see the carousel come to life.

"She Haunts Me" was slated to go to “Backers Auditions” in NYC with hopes of a Broadway run. Whether the audition ever happened is unknown, but the show never received backing and was never produced again.

DVD release[edit]

The film was released on DVD by 20th Century Fox as part of their 20th Century Fox Studio Classics collection.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Streaming audio