Ghost and Mrs. Muir [1947]

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Stars: Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison, George Sanders, Edna Best, Vanessa Brown
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Runtime: 104 minutes

Joseph Mankiewicz's moody classic is less ghost story than romantic fantasy, a handsome 1947 drama of impossible love set on the picturesque turn-of-the-century New England coast. Independent young widow Lucy Muir (the luminous Gene Tierney), desperate to escape her uptight in-laws, falls in love with a grand seaside house and moves in, only to discover the cantankerous ghost of the hot-tempered Captain Gregg (a histrionically flamboyant performance by Rex Harrison). Lucy refuses to let the bombastic captain frighten her away, earning his respect, his friendship, and later his love. They team up to turn the captain's salty memoirs into a bestseller, but as his affection grows he fades away, leaving Lucy free to undertake a more worldly suitor, notably a charismatic children's author (George Sanders at his smarmy smoothest) with his own guarded secret. Charles Lang's melancholy black-and-white photography and Bernard Herrmann's haunting score set the tone for this sublime adult drama, and Tierney delivers one of her most understated performances as the resolute Mrs. Muir. Mankiewicz turns this ghost story into a refreshingly mature and down-to-earth romance. --Sean Axmaker

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