Friday, July 8, 2011


I really enjoyed posting two straight weeks of blogs on Hollywood films from the 1930's, and so for the 1940's I'm going to up the ante and try for three weeks worth. Looking at titles I have left from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book, this shouldn't be a problem. As before, I’ll list my expectations for each film going in and state whether these expectations are reached or not. And I’ll once again give each film my Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award because there was such a bounty of great supporting performers from this period and I just like doing it.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
Expectations: I’m actually surprised this is an entry in the book. When I think of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, I only have a vague memory of the late 1960’s television series with Hope Lange.

After Viewing: This film about a beautiful widow haunted (but in a totally not-scary way) by an earthy (but deceased) sea captain actually has a lot of charm and wit.

Curiosity: Movie fans bemoan and ridicule the strict Breen Code that censored Hollywood films tremendously from 1934 through the early 50's. Yet, despite these limitations, there are plenty of good films from this era. You wouldn't think this would be so. The commentator to this film states (and I'm beginning to agree with) that screenwriters and directors from this era had to learn to be more subtle in their writing and learned to work this limitation for dramatic advantage. The salty sea dog's cursing with the word "BLAST!" gets the point across well enough just as Mrs. Muir's response by angrily typing out a four-letter word (we don't know what the word is, but we get the idea)when she's angry.

And the Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award goes to…George Sanders. I most recently saw Sanders as the oily boyfriend in Rebecca. He plays a similar part here. I can’t really see him playing anything but a cad. (Though he did later play Mr. Freeze on an episode of Batman). I should also give a nod to screenwriter Phillip Dunne (How Green Was My Valley) as well.


  1. It is a sweet little film, and a surprisingly tender one for all of the gruffness of the sea captain. It's not my favorite of the genre or the era, but it's certainly watchable and worth watching.

  2. I have to say, many of today's screenwriters could learn from this film. The subtle references are so clever. I love the part when he's telling her about visiting a brothel as a young man. It's not explicit at all but the attentive, matured viewer gets it. My favourite film of all time. I love it.

  3. Yes, subtlety is definitely a lost artform in modern films.