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BlITHE SPIRIT

Director: DAVID LEAN

U.K. • 1945 • COLOUR • 95 MIN


‘I’ve gone mad. that’s what it is, i’ve just gone raving mad,’ says the novelist Charles Condomine (Rex harrison) in another of Lean’s Noël Coward adaptations. He is the first of many such madmen in Lean, but he has more cause than most, being tormented by the ghost of his first wife (a superbly deadpan Kay hammond), who has returned to disrupt his second marriage. If comedy is not really Lean’s forte, marital torment certainly is, and this whimsical take on what was to become a favourite theme has many pleasures, anticipating the sparkling blend of romance and the supernatural of a masterpiece like Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s The Ghost and Mrs Muir (1947). The special effects won an Oscar; and there is a scene-stealing turn from Margaret Rutherford as a dotty medium (with a parrot that merrily chirps ‘Poltergeist, pretty poltergeist’) who comes to exorcise but only adds to the high spirits. Coward loved Rex harrison’s performance. You’re the best light comedian in the world,’ he told him, adding ‘after me.’
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