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The Ghost And Mrs. Muir Review

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Living in a haunted house by the sea is a less frightening prospect for Lucy Muir, a young widow with a small daughter, than continuing to live with her sisters-in-law

★★★★

Even audiences resolutely unmoved by Patrick Swayze's undying love for Demi Moore in Ghost are liable to be reduced to helpless blubbing by the finale of this 1947 supernatural romance. Gene Tierney’s perfect face is even more gorgeous when seen through a mist of sentimental tears, while Rex Harrison is ideal as the crusty but inwardly sensitive sea dog who lurks around her rented cottage.

Caddish George Sanders is the young widow's appealingly cynical living (and married) suitor, but she spends her whole life waiting for the post‑mortem union with the bearded, suave soul-mate she has almost persuaded herself is only a dream. The comic elements played up in the 1968 TV sit‑com version with Edward Mulhare and Hope Lange are present in the near-knockabout first half, which emphasises mildly risqué banter between the leads and supernatural shenanigans as the ghost scares off interlopers, but director Joseph L. Mankiewicz is ultimately concerned with tugging the heartstrings with the impossible romance.

An eerily evocative Bernard Herrmann score and Charles Lang's luminous photography of a Californian imitation of the English coast add to the atmosphere of magic, but the very tasteful Mankiewicz also uses masterly art direction to characterise the ghost through the warm, appealing interiors of Gull Cottage. Mounted with all the glamour 20th Century‑Fox could muster, this is one of those movies that reminds you how good Hollywood used to be with faces, as Lang's gorgeous monochrome close‑ups of Tierney and Harrison fill the screen. A single flaw is Natalie Wood’s too-American moppet, but all the other character players are perfect.

Affecting ghost story with some great dialogue.