If anyone had told me the plot of The Ghost and Mrs Muir (1947) before I watched it, I would have put this film off time and time again. You see it’s a love story between a ghost and a living woman… an anyone alive in the 90s will have been put off the genre forever by that vomit-inducing, melodramatic chick-flick, Ghost.
I’m glad no one did.
The Ghost and Mrs Muir is, you see, a good film. A romantic comedy which, despite its California filming locale has an unmistakably 19th century British feel to it. As a comedy, it works reasonably well, with a couple of laugh-out-loud moments, but it certainly isn’t trying to be one of those slapstick overloads. It’s more low-key, with the comic elements taking a back burner while the story is front and center. In this, it apparently differs from the 1968 sitcom, but, as I haven’t seen that one, I can’t really give an opinion.
And the story defies the expectations of modern audiences; instead of finding some workaround to make the romance function and give everyone a happy ending, the film gives us an ending we can believe in, while still satisfying the desire to feel good about it in the end.
I have to give this one two thumbs up for being a ghost story that is neither hardcore horror or impossibly overwrought melodrama. It’s a keeper, and recommended, and yet another of those films which I never wold have discovered without the 1001 movies list. So doubly happy to have seen it.
Also, it features a very, very young Natalie Wood as Mrs Muir’s daughter as a child… She was already getting high billing in the credits, even then.
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine novelist and short story writer. He is the author of Siege.