Tuesday, February 28, 2012
GHOST AND MRS. MUIR, THE
(June 1947, U.S.)
There are several reasons why I've always felt a certain personal connection to THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR, a wonderful black and white fantasy/love story. First, one of my screenplays in progress is a story about a man who moves into an isolated beach house and develops a relationship with a ghost (admitedly inspired by this film). Second, I was raised in a beach house in Westhampton Beach, Long Island that's been owned only by my own family and I've come to develop a very serious (and almost unnatural) connection...Hell, the right word is OBSSESSION...to that house and the memories connected with it. Third, there's a line spoken by Lucy Muir (played by Gene Tierney) that goes, "Sometimes you can be much more alone with other people than you are by yourself.", which I have to admit, every once in a while, is a feeling I briefly experience.
This is a film when, while you're watching it, gives off the very strong illusion that sea captain Daniel Gregg (played by Rex Harrison) is no ghost at all, but rather a living, breathing figure in Lucy's life. Really, how often does a ghost make great efforts to get into arguments with the living that are occupying his house? But unlike any ghost story you may have accustomed yourself to, this is one where the living inhabitant can not only make friends with the ghost, but inevitably fall in love with him, too. Then here lies the paradox; how does one live their life in the real world and for the living if they've exhausted all their love and emotions over the dead? Well, that's called fantasy, I suppose. The dead, perhaps, are more colorful and more interesting in the way they had previously lived their lives. Captain Gregg is (was) a harsh, edgy adventurous man who lived the grand life of a man at sea and has never apologized for any of his attitudes or shortcomings. In fact, everything he is (was) is just perfect for a book that he'll help Lucy write that will enable her to buy her (previously his) house because she loves it as much as he did.
Any of this confusing to you yet? Don't worry. When you watch the film, you'll likely get caught up in its fantastic magic as I do (unless you simply detest love stories!). And just what is it about a love story that takes place at the beach or the sea that tends to capture our emotions just a little more than any other locale? I suppose the sea calls to us with adventure, romance and even an element of danger that simply brings love to a higher level. I mean, when you think of romantic walks, you're likely to think of the beach first, right?
Now let me tell you about the end of the film for a moment and two parts that I find particularly intruiging. The first is when we learn from Lucy's daughter (as an adult) that she experienced the ghost of Daniel Gregg, as well as her mother. It's somehow revelating to learn that throughout the whole time the innocence of a child was not only taken with the ghost, but came to love it, as well. The second is the moment when Lucy finally dies as an old woman in her favorite chair and Daniel appears again after a very long absence to take her hand, lead her away to the next life and be finally able to express his undying love for her at a level she's now a part of. So you see, clearly, the dead seem to know how to love with a lot more romance and passion than the living...maybe.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Anna Muir (adult): "Suppose he did come back and talk to us? Oh, wouldn't it be wonderful if he had? Then you would have something, you know what I mean, to look back on with happiness."