5 Things ~ The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

“Women named Lucy are always being imposed upon but, Lucia, there’s a name for a amazon, for a queen.”

– Captain Daniel Gregg

Why hello there and welcome back to my movie blog. A page I have unfortunately left a bit neglected. I often find myself getting ideas but then having the wind leave my sails before it can come to fruition. I think much of this is due to the fact that I have gotten a bit out of practice in writing consistently. Instead of pushing myself to do hefty long form blogs I want to get reacquainted with and rediscover that love of writing with more simplistic pieces. So that is what these “5 Things” posts will be. Something to get me back into the swing of things and build myself back up again. Please enjoy!

1.) Take Me Away to Gull Cottage

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir follows a long line of American produced adaptations of European books in the 1940s. I’m not complaining as one of the most enjoyable things in my mind is a seaside town with salty windswept air. Gull Cottage is where we reside for the majority of the film and it is a cozy feast for the senses.

Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) is a young widow who wishes to plant roots in the coastal town of Whitecliff. Much of this due to the fact that living with her disagreeable in-laws is just too much to take anymore. Following in tow are her young daughter Anna and a faithful maid named Martha. The place this trio of women settle on is the long empty Gull Cottage which is nestled right along the craggy coast with front row views of the choppy sea waves below.

The decor inside is much in line with nautical details and hearty wood finishes. The rooms boast of stout fireplaces with accompanying benches, a warm little kitchen and a neat and compact entry way. But there is more to this new home than looks alone…

2.) Haunted??

It took quite a lot of stubborn will for Mrs. Muir to obtain the perfect Cottage on the coast. The rental agency and town seem to have a deep aversion to it… But why? Why, because not only does it come furnished but it comes with its own ghost to boot! A phantom tyrant that has chased away renters before and laid claim to keeping the property as is.

Lucy is firm though, and no ghost is going to have her running back to her absolutely dreadful family members. Indeed she finds herself intrigued and curious despite the belief that hauntings aren’t actually real. The ghost is real though and quite set in his ways, especially since this was and he still believes is his home… Something he makes quite clear to Lucy when he shows himself to her late one evening in a darkened kitchen with barely a candle light to show his face… The face of Captain Daniel Gregg. A devoted man of the sea whose death was sudden and ruled a suicide though in fact it was just an unfortunate accident which took him to the world of the spiritual.

3.) The Ghost Who Loved Me

Captain Gregg is quite ready to scare Lucy & company off as he has done for all those who tried to live there in his wake… But it doesn’t work… Much to do with the fact that Gregg strikes up a special interest in Lucy and her plight of independence, and a sense of nerve that he admires in a woman. With this in mind a deal is struck and soon Lucy is granted his blessing to stay, and soon she begins writing down his life story in a novelized form.

Lucy and Captain Gregg grow more friendly and hospitable toward each other as the writing process continues. Soon he even gives her a personal pet name, dubbing her Lucia. A name he feels is much better suited to her, and one he insists on using solely when addressing her.

Unfortunately their unique partnership begins to waver as Lucy seeks out publication of the book. A chance encounter has her meeting a slick and overtly flirtatious man who is a well established children’s author. Gregg finds him a bore but Lucy feels flattered by his attention to her. With reality stepping in on the gauzy world the two made together the Captain makes a choice. One evening as Lucy sleeps he bids a poignant farewell to her. A goodbye that wipes away their encounters as nothing but imaginings… Hoping that this girl of flesh and blood will find a man he feels is better suited to her.

4.) Appreciating Gene Tierney

When it comes to the filmography of Gene Tierney for the longest time my experiences with her consisted solely of Laura (1944), and the briefest of recollections of Leave Her to Heaven (1945). Being a faithful viewer of Turner Classic Movies in the mid-2000s I knew of host Robert Osborne’s deep adoration of her. Slowly I have viewed more of her film outings, and overall find her to be an enjoyable screen presence.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is by far my favorite film of hers that I have seen so far. She shines exceptionally well in the role of Lucy and has a feel to her that evokes a subtle charm. She’s not flashy here compared to other roles that up her glam factor and I think that works to her advantage. Not to mention that her chemistry with Rex Harrison feels sparkling and natural. I look forward to getting to see more from her in the future, and on a random note if a 1940s era adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma has been made I think she would have been a superb choice.

5.) An Unabashed Happy Ending

This film ends in a way that I do not think would be a given today in a world where bittersweet realism are more commonplace. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir leads you along and by the halfway point you almost assume something entirely different will come with the conclusion… “Oh she’s probably just going to end up with that dolt.” or “They wouldn’t actually let Lucy and the Captain be together… Would they?”… But they do and it is pretty spectacular if I do say so myself.

Earlier I mentioned how the Captain let’s Lucy go on without his presence. Hoping for her to go on a find romance with a living and breathing man, living a typical life for a typical mortal woman. Naturally we as the viewer can begrudgingly understand this, even though we’ve become invested in this otherworldly connection shared between the two.

Lucy does go on to live a relatively happy life after becoming a successful author. But she doesn’t find romance as her brief affair proved to be false and based on lies. Time passes as we watch Lucy slowly age through the decades that pass by. She doesn’t ever appear unhappy and is comfortable but something feels missing… Though she can’t quite remember what or who that missing piece is. Her daughter, now grown and ready to set off on her own wedded adult life, suggests that a ghostly imaginary friend of hers may have been that piece for her mother. Lucy recalls a slight remembrance for this Captain she mentions but it couldn’t actually have been real. Could it?

The film closes on Lucy is the twilight of her life. Still living comfortably at Gull College, and still being faithfully attended to by her ever faithful companion of Martha. Her raven mane is now replaced with silvery gray, she moves slower and is quite frail. She stands outside in the salty and damp evening air for the last time looking for something she isn’t sure is there. Sitting down in her evening chair by the fire her eyes drift shut and her body goes limp. But all is not lost as after a decades long absence the Captain appears again to greet his Lucia with open hands. The years melt away and Lucy is once again the way she once was and lonely no more.

This ending is exceptionally beautiful and exuberantly optimistic. Few films that deal the blow of the tragic star crossed lovers come in clutch at the end with a secured reunion. Not everything needs to be grounded in realism and such an escape is well appreciated now more than ever. If you haven’t seen this treasure of a film I recommend it with flying covers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s