This is one of my favourite romantic films. I always watch this if I’m in need of cheering up. This is a film that touches my heart like no other ever has.
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 is at her most beautiful and aloof as the young widow, Mrs. Lucy Muir. Rex Harrison is intense and gruff as the ghostly Captain Gregg, the former owner of the haunted cottage that Mrs. Muir moves into.
There is an ambiguity here I think, about whether the Captain is a real manifestation, or if he is just part of Mrs. Muir’s imagination. When she moves in there is a portrait of the Captain hanging in a room, and she becomes intrigued by this sailor in the portrait. She begins to think of him and then he appears to her. He could just be nothing more than her imagination, or he could also be a representation of her breaking free of her past restrictions; with him she is much 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 indeed a real ghost. 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 that hauntings were reported to be happening at the cottage long before Mrs. Muir arrived, and the ending pretty much(for me at least)proves his existence.
As they spend more time together the Captain falls in love with Lucy, all the while knowing full well that nothing can ever come of their growing feelings and desire. She comes to care for him a great deal too. The pair settle for a close friendship, and she agrees to write his memoirs, which she then gets published.
Whilst on a trip to the publishers, Lucy meets the 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. I think that they perfectly convey the shared heartache and desires of their characters. I love how their shared scenes become more tender and moving as the film goes on, and as their characters feelings for one another increase.
Harrison is an actor I’ve never been much of a fan of, but I really like him here. Harrison makes the Captain harsh and gruff, and yet he also shows us that outward appearance is nothing more than an act, he is really a gentle, tender, and very decent man underneath.
Tierney delivers one of her very best performances here as the rich young woman finally getting her first chance to do the things she wants to do. She starts off as a restrained woman who doesn’t express much. Through her friendship with the Captain she becomes more outgoing and open. Tierney does a marvellous job of showing us that change in her character. She makes Mrs. Muir strong, determined, gentle and excitable.
Bernard Herrmann’s beautiful score for this 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 so well with the images on screen.
My all time favourite scene in this is the dream scene; in this scene we see the Captain realise that he must make quite a sacrifice to ensure Lucy’s future happiness. It is a heartbreaking moment.
I also leally love the scene on the train, where the Captain yells at an old man who wants to share Lucy’s compartment, and because the Captain 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 shed 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.
Nothing can top this film version though. The gorgeous score, the excellent performances, the poignant romance, and the interesting premise make this a timeless classic.