Filled Under: *Movies Drama
THE SPIRIT… so willing! THE FLESH… so weak!
THE ROMANCE… so wonderful!
“The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” (1947 – 20th Century Fox) is a romantic fantasy film starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison along with George Sanders, Edna Best, and Natalie Wood. Produced by Fred Kohlmar and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the film was based on a 1945 novel of the same name written by Josephine Leslie under the pseudonym of R. A. Dick. In 1945, 20th Century Fox bought the film rights to the novel, which had been published only in the United Kingdom at that time. “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” was filmed entirely in California and released on June 26, 1947. Charles Lang was nominated for an Oscar for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White for his work on the film. Academy Award winner Bernard Herrmann wrote the score and while his work for this film was not nominated Herrmann considered his musical score for the “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” to have been his best.
The story line follows a strong willed widow Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) who, with her young daughter Anna (Natalie Wood) and their maid Martha Huggins (Edna Best), start a new life in a small seaside cottage in 1900 England. On their first night, Mrs. Muir is visited by the ghostly apparition of the former owner, a rough looking but harmless sea captain named Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison). At first they are hostile towards each other and Mrs. Muir refuses to be scared off. As time goes by Mrs. Muir and Captain Gregg’s ghost grow to respect each other and become friends. When Mrs. Muir finds herself in financial trouble the Captain dictates to her a novel about his life entitled Blood and Swash. His racy recollections make the book a bestseller, allowing Mrs. Muir and her daughter Anna to stay in the seaside cottage and live comfortably. While writing the book, the Captain and Mrs. Muir learn more about each other and become closer, eventually falling in love. Knowing their situation is hopeless, Captain Gregg convinces Mrs. Muir to see ‘real men’. When Mrs. Muir meets Miles Fairlee (George Sanders) and declares her intention to marry him, Captain Gregg decides to disappear from her life permanently. While Mrs. Muir is asleep, he bids her a touching farewell and tells her that when she wakes up she will remember him only as a dream. Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Muir is devastated to learn that Miles is already married and was just stringing her along. She is heartbroken and returns to spend the rest of her life as a single woman in Gull Cottage with her maid Martha to look after her. Mrs. Muir spends a long peaceful life at the cottage. Captain Gregg appears before her at the moment of her death, reaching out, he lifts her young spirit free of her body. The two walk out of the front door arm in arm, into the mist and eternity together.
“You can be much more alone with other people than you are by yourself, even if it’s people you love. That sounds all mixed up, doesn’t it?” ~ Gene Tierney as Lucy Muir
“Anna Karenina” (1935 – MGM) is the most famous and critically acclaimed film adaptation of the classic novel Anna Karenina written by Leo Tolstoy. The film is directed by Clarence Brown and stars Greta Garbo, Fredric March, Basil Rathbone, Freddie Bartholomew, Maureen O’Sullivan, May Robson, and Reginald Owen.
“Anna Karenina” is set mostly in Moscow during the weeks that follow the initial meeting of the lovers to be Vronsky and Anna Karenina. Anna Karenina (Greta Garbo) is the wife of Czarist official Karenin (Basil Rathbone). While she tries to persuade her brother Stiva (Reginald Owen) from a life of debauchery, she meets and falls in love with dashing military officer Count Vronsky (Fredric March). This indiscreet liaison ruins her marriage and her position in 19th century Russian society. She is even prohibited from seeing her own son Sergei (Freddie Bartholomew). The story, as it unfolds, also focuses on Kitty (Maureen O’Sullivan), a young woman who is related to Anna’s sister-in-law. Until Anna shows up, Kitty had hopes of getting Vronsky, who is single and well connected, to propose to her. Soon she is ignored by Vronsky and turns her attention to another suitor.
“Anna Karenina” is like many of the typical high-budget MGM films, the direction is excellent, the sets are big and well done, and the music is wonderful. The cast as a whole give great, impressive performances. Basil Rathbone’s portrayal as the cold and unforgiving Karenin is superb and almost equals that of Garbo’s. Freddie Bartholomew was eleven years old when the film was made and he is very memorable in his role as Anna Karenina’s son Sergei, especially in the scenes he has with Garbo. Fredric March’s portrayal of Vronsky was not his best performance but he was still very good. Maureen O’Sullivan, May Robson, and Reginald Owen were also very good in their supporting roles. But the heart of “Anna Karenina” was Greta Garbo. She is unforgettable as a woman helpless in the situation she finds herself in and heartbroken at the loss of her son.
“Anna Karenina” opened August 30, 1935 in New York City at the Capitol Theatre, the site of many prestigious MGM premieres and earned $2,304,000 at the box office. The film won the Mussolini Cup for best foreign film at the Venice Film Festival. Greta Garbo received a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for her role as Anna. The film was ranked #42 on the American Film Institute’s list of AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Passions.
Jean Maitland (Ginger Rogers): “We started off on the wrong foot. Let’s stay that way.”
“Stage Door” (1937 – RKO), adapted from the play by the same name, tells the story of several would-be actresses who live together in a boarding house at 158 West 58th Street in New York City. The film stars Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, Adolphe Menjou, Gail Patrick, Constance Collier, Andrea Leeds, Samuel S. Hinds and Lucille Ball. Eve Arden and Ann Miller (who become famous in later films) play minor characters. The film was adapted by Morrie Ryskind and Anthony Veiller from the play by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman. The play’s storyline and the characters’ names were almost totally completely changed for the movie, so much so in fact that Kaufman joked the film should be called “Screen Door”.
“Stage Door” follows a boardinghouse full of aspiring actresses and their ambitions, dreams and disappointments. Terry Randall (Katharine Hepburn), is an aspiring actress from a wealthy Midwestern family, and a new-comer at the Footlights Club, a modest New York boardinghouse, where she is greeted by a bevy of world-weary actresses and chorus girls. Terry’s haughty manner and highbrow tastes immediately alienate her from her fellow “troopers” who pride themselves on their sharp wit and down-to-earth style. Jean Maitland (Ginger Rogers), Terry’s roommate, is a wise-cracking dancer who resents Terry’s lavish wardrobe and judgmental attitudes. Because of her dubious liaison with theatrical producer Anthony “Tony” Powell (Adolphe Menjou), a notorious womanizer, Jean also dislikes another housemate, the sophisticated Linda Shaw (Gail Patrick). Loved by all of the women, however, is Kay Hamilton (Andrea Leeds), a high-strung dedicated actress who, although receiving rave notices for a play that she had starred in the previous year, has since been unable to find work. Miss Luther (Constance Collier) is an aging actress who is Terry’s only supporter and who appoints herself Terry’s mentor. Cynical Judith (Lucille Ball), feisty Eve (Eve Arden), and a young lively Annie (Ann Miller) round out the boardinghouse residents.
Other characters include Samuel S. Hinds as Hepburn’s father, Jack Carson as a Seattle lumberman, Grady Sutton as a butcher’s helper, Frank Reicher as a stage director, Franklin Pangborn as as a hiloarious butler, and Ralph Forbes in the role of Hepburn’s stage spouse.
The entire cast is excellent and the movie is fast paced with snappy dialogue and lively banter. Sharp and humorous, with heart and heartbreaking tragedy, “Stage Door” is a must see for all classic movie fans.
Stage Door was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Leeds was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress.