HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
HTS Overall Score:81
A romance between a Ghost and someone from the land of the living? Sounds much more like the fantasy genre, rather than something you’d see coming from the 1940s. Some of you may remember the TV show in the 1980s, where they kept it a little more fantastical and whimsical, mirroring the feel of other fantasy shows of the times like “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Bewitched”. Strangely enough I’ve never seen the film, even though my wife adores it and I happen to be a HUGE fan of classic cinema. So when I saw this come out recently I figured it was about high time I sat down and watched it for once. I have to say that it was so NOT what I was expecting. Very few times can a film truly catch me by surprise, but this one certainly did cause me to raise my eyebrows after not seeing it coming. I expected some sort of romance akin to “Pride and Prejudice” or some other Bronte sister style of romance, but what was presented here was a much simpler, sweeter and almost undetectable romantic liaison.
Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) has been a widow of one year, after her husband passed away and has decided that it’s time to stop living with her in-laws and strike out on her own with her young daughter and meager dividends from her late husband’s savings. Willful and headstrong, she is not about to be bossed about by anyone and decides to rent a “haunted” cottage out on the seaside. It appears that a Captain Daniel Gregg, a seafaring captain, died in his sleep 40 years ago and to this day haunts the cottage. Nonplussed, Lucy takes up residence there and refuses to be bullied by the gruff ghost. Not really believing the stories anyways she settles in, only to come face to face with the apparition.
It seems that the two of them are two peas in a pod. Capt. Gregg is brusk and rough around the edges, used to getting his way his entire life, and Lucy is strong minded and doesn’t take guff from anyone. Taken aback by her straightforward manner, Captain Gregg decides to allow Lucy to stay without the constant fear of a ghost terrorizing her constantly. As the two learn to live together in a sort of odd couple way, they form a bond of friendship. Lucy is able to polish the rough edges of the captain just a bit and the Captain shows Lucy that she doesn’t have to be afraid of being hurt as much as she thinks. The two form an unlikely pair and one that starts the blossom. Unfortunately for them one of them is living and one of them is not. Realizing the conundrum that they’re in Captain Gregg slips into whatever realm he’s in and appears no more, leaving Lucy to create a life among the living for herself. As time goes on, Lucy lives her life, away from the company of suitors and starts to lose the memories of the home’s original owner. However, time has always been on the Captains side and the story progresses in a way that may surprise you.
I’ve always loved Rex Harrison, he’s an aggressive actor who loves to play brusk and rough characters, think “My Fair Lady”, and in this one he’s at the peak of his game. He has a unique ability to chew up the scenery here in a way that I normally wouldn’t expect of Rex, but chew away he does. Gene Tierney is simply stunning as the headstrong Lucy and creates the perfect ying for Captain Gregg’s yang. To say I was enthralled by the story would be an understatement. There was several times in the story that I had to do a double talk, because I honestly did not expect the outcome of the scene. The story progresses naturally, leaving you to wonder just HOW they could possibly end this film without becoming a disappointment. By the time I got to the last frame of the film I was shocked to realize that the ending they chose was about the only ending on earth that could have possibly worked and was most fitting indeed. I see why this film has become a classic and is now considered a prize in my own collection.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=14007[/img]Presented in 1.33:1 AVC encoded, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” looks absolutely stunning in high definition. The print is clear as can be with very little, if any, damages to the old negatives. The first thing I noticed was that, even for a black and white picture, the cinematographer utilized the black levels and white levels as a start contrast in the film. During some of the moodier parts of the movie the black levels are so deep and dark that when it shifts to a stark white scene, the difference is instantly noticeable (and startlingly so in some cases.) There seems to be no evidence of black crush with all of the deep blacks present, and the day for night shots look exceptional. Detail is very well done considering the age of the film and I dare say this one looks nearly as good a transfer as “Casablanca”. Well done Fox, well done.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=14008[/img]The audio is presented to us in two different choices. There is the 1.0 DTS-HD MA track for the audio purists among us and the 5.1 DTS-HD MA re mastered track to choose from. It’s kind of a situation where you have to pick your poison. Both tracks have some advantages and some disadvantages. The 1.0 track feels the more natural of the 2, giving the rest of the speakers a break the dialogue and effects are crystal clear and only interrupted by a faint crackle and hiss that was indicative of the audio capturing equipment of the times. The 5.1 remastered track opens up the soundstage quite a bit, giving us more enveloping feel with the rich score, flowing throughout the film. There’s some decent ambient noises coming through the surrounds and it can breathe new life into it for those who prefer the remastering. The only real problem is that the ambient hiss that I mentioned in the 1.0 is much more noticeable being that all 5 or 7 speakers are emitting that sound at the same time instead of just your center. So in some ways I liked the 5.1 better and in others the more natural and focused 1.0 mono track was the winner. It seems to come down to personal choice really.
• Commentary by Greg Kimble and Christopher Husted
• Commentary by Jeanine Basinger and Kenneth Geist
• Theatrical Trailer
“The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” is one of the 1940’s best films, in my opinion. It’s a sweet and endearing film that doesn’t bog itself down with the modern trappings of being insipid and overly clingy to form a romance. It’s simple, carries itself with poise and dignity, just hinting and nudging you along the way through a ghost story, till you realize that there really is no other way to end the film. If you’ve never seen the film, I highly recommend it, if you have seen the film, then this is without a doubt the best presentation it’s ever been privy to. Fantastic video and solid audio give this one a must buy status for classic film lovers.
Starring: Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison, George Sanders
Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Written by: Phillip Dunne
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English, Italian DTS-HD MA 1.0, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DD 1.0
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 104 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: Dec 3rd, 2013
Buy The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Buy It!
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