“This isn’t a blasted literary epic. It’s the unvarnished story of a seaman’s life.”

In search of something classic and not terribly taxing a few nights ago, I decided to watch the most excellent film The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Though the atmosphere of this film conjures up images of cozy winter afternoons with woolly blankets and hot beverages, it also works for cool August evenings.

For the uninitiated, this 1947 film stars Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. Tierney plays Laura Muir, a beautiful young widow who moves with her daughter (Natalie Wood) to a seaside cottage. Unbeknownst to Mrs. Muir, the cottage already has a resident, the ghost of sea captain Daniel Gregg, played by the delectable Rex Harrison. In order to bring in money for Mrs. Muir, Captain Gregg tells her the story of his life, which she turns into a novel called Blood and Swash. Wait, wait, it only gets better. Of course, Mrs. Muir and Captain Gregg fall in love, but how can they be together? Will they ever find happiness?

The original story was based upon the 1945 novel written by Josephine Leslie under the pseudonym of R. A. Dick. Yeah, I know. Evidently the film adaptation did moderately well in the States, but was a smash hit abroad, particularly France. It also gave rise to a 1960s comedic TV series of the same name, which (mercifully) lasted only two seasons. Creepy. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir also became something of a cult film, including internet fan fiction spanning both the States and Europe. I leave you to discover those little gems on your own.

Now, I don’t want to hear any grumbling from the lower ranks about how this movie is “old” or “boring”, none of that says I. And not a word about it being in black and white. Silence off the port bow, as it were. To entice you to see this most excellent film, I am including some of the superb quotes from The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

Captain Gregg: “Confound it, madam, my language is most controlled! And as for my morals, I’ve lived a man’s life and I’m not ashamed of it.”

Lucy Muir: “Please be good enough to shove off.”

This film has everything you could want—smoldering, temperamental sea captains, tragic widows, obnoxious in-laws, seaside vistas, a classic movie score, and a refreshing lack of those obsequious, saccharine child stars with the high-pitched voices.

I insist you netflix this amazing film at once, or go buy it a Barnes & Noble for $9.99, like I did.

As a disappointing post script, I made the mistake of watching The Memory Keeper’s Daughter a few nights later. I knew it was a bad plan, but I couldn’t stop it. Based on a book I haven’t read and produced by Lifetime, it was like watching a car wreck unfold moment by predictive moment for 91 minutes. As the roommate said while credits rolled, “Man, Lifetime movies are some kind of special. Depressive kind of special, but also complete shite. They make me want to find the nearest tall building.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Published by JRW

boston. maker. librarian. canine wrangler. coffee drinker.

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