Charles (Sir Rex Harrison) and his second wife, Ruth (Constance Cummings), are haunted by the spirit of his first wife, Elvira (Kay Hammond). Medium Madame Arcati (Dame Margaret Rutherford) tries to help things out by contacting the ghost.
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Brenda de Banzie
To get background for a new book, author Charles Condomine (Sir Rex Harrison) and his second wife Ruth (Constance Cummings) light-heartedly arrange for local mystic Madame Arcati (Dame Margaret Rutherford) to give a séance. The unfortunate result is that Charles' first wife Elvira (Kay Hammond) returns from beyond the grave to make his life something of a misery. Ruth too gets increasingly irritated with her supernatural rival, but Madame Arcati is at her wit's end as to how to sort things out.Written by
When Ruth leaves Charles and Elvira to go to bed, the camera pulls back into the drawing room, the door closes, and in the gloss paintwork the ghostly reflection of the crew can be seen. See more »
words on a Victorian sampler:
"When we are young / We read and believe / The most fantastic things. / When we are older / We learn with regret / That these things cannot be"
We are quite, quite wrong!
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The voice at the end of the credits page that utters, "We are quite, quite WRONG!" is Noël Coward's See more »
I shall consult my diary and give you a complete list after lunch.
I must say, this was a bloody good film. Unlike the other older films that I have watched this one actually had originality, spunk, and a whole lot of fun. Blithe Spirit is the story of a couple that is happy in every way. Rex Harrison and Constance Cummings play a couple, Charles and Ruth Condomine, who have been married for five years. This is both of theirs second marriage. They are seemingly wealthy due to Harrison's books that he has written. His next book is about the supernatural, so he has invited the local gypsy to their house on night to not only study what she does, but also for a form of entertainment.
Wonderfully played by Margaret Rutherford, Madame Arcati (the gypsy) makes her entrance and immediately sets the tone for the remainder of the film. She runs around the room like a hyperactive child, standing ... sitting ... running ... and jumping she puts on a great performance for those watching. After the séance is completed with no results, the two couples find themselves laughing as Arcati leaves for the night. The only one not laughing is Harrison. He has discovered that his dead wife has actually risen from the grave and can see and talk to him. The only trouble, Harrison is the only one that can see her. Harrison, hysterical in a Hugh Grant sort of way, is not so much frightened that she is a ghost, but that his ex-wife is back in the same room as he. He spends the evening, to his current wife's displeasure, talking to Edith (his first wife) about her current disposition. Humor, suspicion, and creative film-making continue throughout the rest of this film. The ending to this film surprised me, but also kept well within the themes of this film. Rex Harrison has proved that he was one of Britain and Hollywood's greatest assets.
After my first two run ins with 1940-1950s cinema, I was ready to be board and asleep by now, instead I am awake and have a huge smile on my face. It is so impressive to see such quality and original work come from this time period. Looking at the most recent horror/thriller cinema that has graced our screens lately like The Others, The Sixth Sense, and even The Ring, it was a joy to sit back and enjoy a comedy that combines the same elements from these into a very funny caper. Taken from a play by author Noel Coward, Blithe Spirit sharpens your intellect and brings you deep into the world of British comedy.
The casting was perfect. This is actually my first Rex Harrison film, and I cannot wait to see him again. The style of acting that he has, and it may have just been for this film, is not only sharp, but directly on cue. I couldn't keep my eyes off the old gypsy. Her facial expressions, plus mannerisms showed that she was very excited about this part. The concept of this film was extraordinary. Since I have only seen a handful of 1940s films, the plot and elements in this film far exceed the others plus some of the cinema released today.
I love British humor. I loved the fact that after the first ten minutes, nobody was scared of these ghosts. It was like it was the normality of life for these characters. It took a little longer for Ruth to be comfortable, but Charles stepped right into it. Add to this mix a surprise element about Charles' marriage brings continual laughter and surprises. So, not only do we have ghosts in the house, but we also have a crumbling marriage. Not only do we have a very funny film about ghosts, but we also have an ending that I did not see coming at all.
Overall, it was not just a funny ghost film, but instead a funny ghost film with a pinch of "who-dun-it". If you are in the movie store looking for that 1940s film that will tie you over for the night, please check out Blithe Spirit. I think you will thoroughly enjoy it. No spooky in any way, just straight out fun!!
Grade: ***** out of *****
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