Blithe Spirit, starring Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, Kay Hammond, Margaret Rutherford
Synopsis of Blithe Spirit
Review of Blithe Spirit
Blithe Spirit is a “ghostly” comedy – almost Topper with a dark twist. It begins with novelist Charles Condomine (a young Rex Harrison) having a seance. Not that he expects anything other than fakery. He’s writing a novel, and he simply wants some details on a fake seance. However, the zany Madame Arcati (Margaret Rutherford) is a well-done medium, which is rare. She actually manages to bring his dead first wife’s spirit back.
After another visit from Margaret Rutherford, both ghosts are now visible to Rex Harrison — and both stuck on Earth, unable to go on to Heaven. The attempts at trying to send them back by Rutherford are hilarious, and well worth watching. I’ll not give away the ending, other than to say that it’s both logical and unexpected.
Editorial review of Blithe Spirit courtesy of Amazon.com
The Noel Coward/David Lean combination which turned out such dramas as Brief Encounter and This Happy Breed sets its sights on the viewer’s funny bone with Blithe Spirit. Rex Harrison plays a novelist, newly married to straight-laced Constance Cummings. While researching a book on spiritualism, Harrison is teased and tormented by the mischievous ghost of his first wife, Kay Hammond. Believing that Hammond wants to ruin his marriage, Harrison enlists the services of local medium Madame Arcati (Margaret Rutherford in her funniest performance). When Arcati fails to exorcise Hammond’s spirit, Harrison decides to kill himself so that he can be reunited with her and spare wife number two the aggravation of being haunted.
But Harrison’s plans go awry: His second wife is killed, and now he has two playful spirits on his hands! Technicolor is used throughout Blithe Spirit, with the ghosts’ shimmering paleness providing contrast to the plain, everyday colors of Harrison’s conservative country home. Blithe Spirit was later transformed into the Broadway musical High Spirits, with the original script bent out of shape to turn the character of Madame Arcati (played by Beatrice Lillie) into the leading role.