Set on the British coast at the turn of the 20th century, this romantic ghost story is a must watch for fans of the romance genre. Gene Tierney at her most beautiful and aloof, as the young widow, Lucy Muir. Rex Harrison is intense and gruff, as the ghostly Captain Gregg, the former owner of the haunted cottage Mrs. Muir moves into.
There is an ambiguity here about whether the Captain is a real manifestation, or is just part of Mrs. Muir’s imagination. When she moves in there is a portrait of the Captain hanging in a room, he could just be nothing more than her imagination or a representation of her breaking free of her past restrictions; with him she is more open, adventurous and has some much needed fun, she is no longer living a sheltered and pampered life.
However, you can also view it that he is real; Mrs. Muir’s daughter sees him too, as do the relations of Mrs. Muir’s dead husband(in a memorable scene the Captain evicts them from the premises)there is also the fact of hauntings happening at the cottage before she arrived, and the ending pretty much(for me at least)proves his existence.
The Captain falls in love with Lucy, all the while knowing nothing can come of their growing desire; so they settle for friendship and she writes his memoirs, which she then gets published. Whilst on a trip to the publishers, Lucy meets charming (and obvious cad)Miles Fairley(George Sanders, at his most charming and oily), he (supposedly) falls in love with her; the Captain can see through him and knows he is no good, but will Lucy ever see the truth about this elegant living man in her life?
Harrison and Tierney make a beautiful screen couple, they perfectly convey the shared heartache of their characters. Harrison is an actor I’ve never been much of a fan of, but I really like him here; he makes the Captain harsh and yet shows us that is nothing more than an act, he is really a gentle and decent man underneath. Tierney is at her best as the rich young woman finally getting her first chance to do the things she wants to do.
Bernard Herrmann’s beautiful score is one of his very best, it’s atmospheric and for me always conjures up images of the sea. It’s a moving and passionate score, and goes well with the images on screen.
My all time favourite scene in this is the dream scene, where we see the Captain realise he must make quite a sacrifice to ensure Lucy’s future happiness. Heartbreaking. I also love the scene on the train, where the Captain yells at an old man who wants to share Lucy’s compartment, because he is invisible to anyone except Lucy, the old man thinks she has yelled insults at him and his reaction is priceless.
Superb performances from the entire cast. This is a must watch for fans of classic era romance; make sure you have some tissues with you though, it’s guaranteed to make you lose a few tears.
There was a TV series of this made in the 1960’s. I’ve been lucky enough to find the episodes on YouTube, if you haven’t seen it and like the film, then do check it out. Hope Lange plays Mrs. Muir and Edward Mulhare plays Captain Gregg. I enjoyed this very much, it’s more of a comedy than a romantic drama, but there are many lovely scenes between the Captain and Mrs. Muir.