Saturday 6 January 2024

On Blu-ray - David Hare is entranced once again by THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR (Joseph L Mankiewicz, USA, 1947)

To prepare for this I reviewed it on the projector this morning. A few things about this perpetual favorite were completely unexpected.
The score! - Herrmann of course - really is exhilarating and it dares to rake up the darker parts of the narrative emotionally that Mank has chosen to direct far more simply.
And then, needless to say, the incredible mood of the dialogue which narratively takes on such a completely Fordian tone. I had never felt it before but Muir’s/Tierney’s voice overs this time totally conveyed the shattering poignancy of my second favorite Ford movie, How Green was my Valley. The opening remembrance of that masterpiece, read by Irving Pichel which suspends time and space for us was written or more correctly adapted by Philip Dunne, who had indeed written both the Ford and the Mank films.
Dunne got an Oscar for his incredible screenplay for The Ghost and Mrs Muir, and you can see why by the time of the second shot after the credits. No wonder I was thinking and feeling Ford, in this space now occupied here by post war Hollywood’s most literate cinĂ©aste, Joe Mankiewicz.
The movie is without hesitation one of that rarest of things - the perfect film. Nothing is misjudged, nothing is out of tempo, the celestially beautiful photography of the great Charles Lang, on loan to Fox from Paramount.
And the tears flowed like water, as they always do.
Happy New Year.

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