Bernard Hermann's
"The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" Score

Having had enough of living with her late husband's mother and maiden aunt, young widow Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) decides to move with her daughter Anna (Natalie Wood) to a place of her own by the sea. Her eye falls on the picturesque coastal village of Whitecliff where she finds a beautiful house called Gull Cottage. The landlord tries his hardest to dissuade Lucy from taking the cottage, telling her that all the previous tenants have moved out just as quickly as they moved in.

Lucy soon discovers the reason for the landlord's warnings when she sees windows and doors open on their own, candles blown out and hears disembodied laughter. Unlike the previous tenants, strong-willed Lucy refuses to be scared off by the haunting and demands that the ghost reveal himself. He appears and Lucy recognizes him immediately as Captain Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison), the cottage's previous owner and whose portrait hangs above the mantelpiece.

Initially hostile towards one another, Lucy and the Captain soon develop a mutual respect that quickly becomes admiration. When Lucy suddenly finds herself in financial difficulties, in order to raise money the Captain (or Daniel as he asks her to call him) dictates to her a novel about his life. While writing the book, Daniel and Lucy learn more about each other and become closer. When the book is finally finished and ready to be published, Lucy realizes she's fallen in love with Daniel, and he with her. Both know that the situation is hopeless, and Daniel tells her that he wants her to see other men.

Lucy reluctantly agrees, and while meeting a publisher in London, Lucy meets the smooth-talking Miles Fairley (George Sanders), an author of children's books. Miles takes a fancy to the attractive widow and begins to court her. Daniel is not at all happy at Lucy's choice and tries to warn her off but Lucy is enchanted by Miles and thinks Daniel is just being jealous. When Lucy declares her intention to marry Miles, Daniel decides to disappear from Lucy's life permanently.

While Lucy is asleep, Daniel bids her a touching farewell and tells her that when she wakes up she will remember him only as a dream. Shortly afterwards, Lucy is devastated to learn that Miles is already married and was just stringing her along.

The years pass, and Lucy continues to live at Gull Cottage with no memory of Daniel until one day Anna, who is now grown up and engaged, mentions that as a little girl she used to regularly see the ghost of Captain Gregg. This jogs something in Lucy's memory. For the next thirty years Lucy resides in Gull Cottage, watching and waiting for something, but not quite knowing what.

Oscar
1 Nomination
0 Awards

Golden Globes
0 Nominations
0 Awards
“The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” is a superb illustration of how post-World War II Hollywood could deftly handle a romantic fable during an era when the movies could deliver escapism without big-budget pyrotechnics. The charm of the film lies almost entirely in its simplicity and self-restraint, which tacitly downplays the fantasy element of the story and makes it easy for an audience to suspend disbelief.

The result is a film that is both poignant and lyrical, but with a lightness of touch which makes it thoroughly enjoyable. For a Hollywood offering, it is surprising how quintessentially English the film feels, even with its largely English cast and quaint seaside setting. “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” possesses exquisite black and white photography by Charles Lang, and it sets a spooky mood for the proceedings, but in such a way as to make us unafraid of what we are about to see. Rather, we welcome each scene as an old friend.

Of course, the film’s main selling point is the sublime pairing of Gene Tierney with Rex Harrison. Gene Tierney's haunting beauty and on screen chemistry with Rex Harrison makes this simple story of an unusual love work with precision and care. Their scenes together are wonderful to see, as they seem to read each other like books and know the exact moves that the other will make with clarity. Together on screen you have no doubt that their characters were just meant for one another.

George Sanders works his magic; with that oiled voice that betrays the cad he is and always will be as Farley. One can be guaranteed that his presence in a film will be an exciting and laden filled vessel of timing and seduction.
The score by the venerable Bernard Herrmann is another plus that is unforgettable in its magnitude of presenting time, place and mood. The theme of this film permanently etches itself onto the brain and is a combination of moods and emotions. It's a drama, a comedy, fantasy, a love story, a ghost story, but most of all it's about people and how the ways of life render them at times silly and beyond belief and yet, in the end, wrap up all the loose ends and tie them neatly into a bow.

What is most remarkable of all is the fact that for a love story, Lucy and The Captain never touch, never kiss and never truly reveal their love for each other until the very end, and if that is not a testament to the institution of love then nothing could ever be! “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” is one film that will capture your heart forever.