Starring: Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison, George Sanders, Natalie Wood
Director: Joseph L Mankiewicz
In 1900, Lucy Muir (Tierney) is a young widow with a daughter (a very young Natalie Wood), who decides to move out of the home she shares with her miserable in-laws. She ends up choosing a house that is reputably haunted, but it’s by the ocean and she loves it. But the ghost (Harrison) turns out to be an irascible and grumpy sea captain. The two strike up an uneasy peace, and slowly find themselves becoming flirtatious good friends. When Lucy’s money runs out, he dictates her his memoirs so that she can make her own money. But their feelings for each other are tested when Lucy meets a living beau (Sanders) who can offer a little more in the way of romance than a ghost can.
I love this film. Tierney is always a delight to watch, and here she is ethereal and beautiful, and yet also has a quiet determination that makes her character really likable. (Tierney’s own life is tragic and fascinating, a fight with depression and the use of shock therapy marred her brilliant career) Natalie Wood is delightfully self possessed for such a young actress. And Rex Harrison does one of his best turns as a harsh, gruff man who has a heart of gold, and who loves without ever being able to express that love out loud.
I love the relationship between these two leads, as Lucy leads the captain out of himself and his loneliness, and he helps her be independent and stronger. It’s so sweet to see them unimpressed by each other, growing to appreciate the others qualities, and knowing that they’d be perfect together, if one of them wasn’t dead. It’s unconventional and bittersweet. It’s not a usual romance film in many ways, and never really falls into sickly sweet territory. I also love the way the film resolves it’s problems, it’s ending, which I won’t go into here due to spoilers.
Although this is a film about a relationship, on the whole it sits more in the drama category, so don’t be put off if you’re not a fan of romances, because this has so much more going on than just that central relationship.
See It If: you ever had an imaginary friend. This is a delightful film about breaking away, being independent, and finding friendship and love in unlikely places. Delightful.