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The Ghost and Mrs. Muir: Fox Studio Classics

Gene Tierney plays Lucy Muir in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a late Victorian-era widow who flaunts convention by moving away from her annoying mother-in-law and bitchy sister, insisting instead that she wants to live her own life on her own terms. To that end, Lucy heads for the English coast with her housekeeper, Martha (Edna Best), and her daughter, Anna (a very young Natalie Wood). Lucy falls in love with secluded Gull Cottage and, despite protestations by the real estate agent, she rents it — only to discover that the house is haunted by its former owner, a cantankerous sea captain named Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison). In the same spirit that she refused to bow to her in-laws or to the real estate agent, Lucy stands up to the captain's attempts at scaring her away, thus earning his respect. And when she learns that she may have to give up the house for financial reasons, the Captain suggests that she "ghost-write" his autobiography, have it published, and stay on in Gull Cottage. As Lucy, Gene Tierney displays spunk along with her usual elegant control, and Rex Harrison makes the Captain a figure of dashing masculinity and sympathetic understanding — if he's a fantasy, he's a darn good one. Sanders oozes sexuality as the transparently smarmy Lothario, and the brilliant score by Bernard Herrmann lays just the right amount of sadness and loss over the sparkling dialogue. Fox's DVD release of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir offers a beautiful full-frame (1.33:1) transfer in deep, rich black-and-white. The titles are a little wobbly and there's a tiny amount of scratchiness here and there, but overall it's very, very clean with amazing detail. The English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is offered with either a monaural or stereo option. Both are very good, showcasing Herrmann's wonderful score without overpowering the actor's voices. Audio tracks in French and Spanish are offered as well, as are English and Spanish subtitles. Two commentary tracks are offered, both bursting with anecdotes and trivia — one features effects supervisor and film historian Greg Kimble with Christopher Husted, manager of composer Bernard Herrmann's estate, while the other features film professor Jeanine Bassinger and Joseph L. Mankiewicz's biographer, Kenneth Geist. Also on board is the 45-minute "Rex Harrison: The Man Who Would Be King" (which originally aired on A&E's "Biography"); a stills gallery; the theatrical trailer; and trailers for other Fox DVD titles. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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