In addition to The Adventures of Robin Hood and The African Queen (movie magic sometimes strikes), another movie that is a sure hit with my mother is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. Mom normally is not a ghost movie fan, but this one is humorous and romantic and she is happy to make an exception. We watched it again last night and found it as entertaining as ever.
Gene Tierney is a lovely widow seeking independence from her in-laws and Rex Harrison is an imposing, cranky and rakish ghost. She moves into his house and he … decides to let her stay. They collaborate on a book about his life and, with the proceeds, she is able to buy the house where she and her maid live out their lives. Once the book is written, he realizes that she needs to live her life and he needs to back away, with her having only a faint recollection of his haunting. Unfortunately, she falls for a cad played by George Sanders; fortunately, it doesn’t last long. I always enjoy George Sanders, though he obviously was not worthy of our heroine in this movie. The cast also includes Natalie Wood as the widow’s daughter and Edna Best as Martha the maid. A cute dog, annoying in-laws and the somewhat bumbling estate agent round out the players.
I think one of the reasons this appeals to my mother is that the main character is a young widow – my mother was only 42 when my father died. Both she and Mrs. Muir had to stand on their own two feet and provide for the family – sometimes not knowing where the money would come from. Granted, we didn’t have a ghost hanging around! Rex Harrison is the one who surprised me in this movie. He always seemed a bit older and sort of stodgy in other movies I had seen, but he was vigorous and handsome in this one. He flirts and woos. He knows what he wants and goes for it without letting the fact that he’s dead stand in the way – that is, until he realizes that Mrs. Muir needs to live out her life without him, ur, looking over her shoulder.
One final note is that the house shared by the ghost and Mrs. Muir, Gull Cottage, is probably my favorite of all the houses I’ve seen in the movies. If I had to choose one house from all of filmdom in which to live, I think it would be Gull Cottage. The rooms are not too big and not too small, there are lots of windows looking out to the sea and it seems so cozy that I smile whenever I see it. Of course, I’d do a little redecorating and the kitchen needs a bit of an upgrade. The design of the house is supposed to be based on a boat and a poem by Keats. Here is a link to a description of the house: https://hookedonhouses.net/2011/09/12/gull-cottage-in-the-movie-the-ghost-and-mrs-muir/. I’m not sure the essence comes across in the still photos – watch the movie to get a better sense of it!