Director David Lean's delicious adaptation of Noel Coward's comedy stars Rex Harrison as celebrated novelist Charles Condomine, a newly married man haunted by his long-dead first wife. When a medium and Charles' new wife t... more »ry to send her back, they don't realize she has devised a scheme to keep Charles with her forever.« less
"I purchased this DVD without ever having seen the movie, but I figured I couldn't go wrong with David Lean, Rex Harrison, and Noel Coward. Unfortunately, I didn't take DVD production values (or lack thereof) into consideration. This is probably a wonderful movie, but the DVD is unwatchable. The sound is absolutely abysmal. I wasn't able to make out Noel Coward's dialog at all. Don't bother getting this DVD; wait for a better transfer."
Classy Noel Coward Classic
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 12/14/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Noel Coward's popular stage comedy BLITHE SPIRIT comes to the screen with considerable charm and notable performances from Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, and Margaret Rutherford in this fantasy of a married man whose seance party inadverdently summons up the ghost of his first wife--who promptly moves in, turning him into an "astrial bigamist."The Coward script, which zips along with cool one liners, is well played in the best British 'throw-away' tradition, quick, light, and more than a little acid. Harrison is neatly cast as the hag-ridden husband, Cummings is particularly charming as the terse second wife, and Dame Margaret Rutherford steals the show as the slightly dotty medium who conjures up the ghost of Harrison's first wife and then can't get rid of her. Fans of cool English comedy will enjoy it considerably; others, however, may find it all a bit too restrained for their tastes."
Great Movie, Lousy DVD
cinescoper | Los Angeles, CA | 11/23/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This delightful movie by David Lean deserves a much better transfer/print than the one present in this DVD. Hopefully, nah, make that "surely" this will happen some time in the future, as it almost always does. If you can't wait to own this film on DVD, go for it. But beware, the colors are either washed out, too yellow or too green, and the sound is very poor (despite the Dolby Digital Mono) and most of the dialogue is practically incomprehensible. The quality of this DVD is in fact so poor that it is completely distracting, such that you spend more time struggling to imagine what the film would look and sound like in the right version than enjoying what it is."
Jill Kalter | 01/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a review of the script, acting and direction; not of the DVD. This is vintage, brittle Coward. It will obviously not appeal to young, brash kids, who will not be able to believe that English people between the two World Wars actually spoke, thought and behaved like this. However, they did. Or some of them did. In fact, I can remember them doing it: they were just exactly like the older members of my own family. The writing is brilliant, precise and accurate. Strange as it may seem, there actually were people like Madame Arcati: eccentric English spinsters repeating the mannerisms and slang of their schooldays. The plotting is extremely clever: you continually wonder how Coward is going to keep the plates spinning in the air, and are constantly surprised at his deftness and dexterity. The lines are poised and sharp, if slightly one-note. The direction is faultless, but then this kind of play almost directs itself. I feel sorry for those who cannot appreciate the theatrical skills displayed in this performance, or the verbal and mental adroitness being displayed. Modern film technology and techniques are no substitutes."
NO ONE DOES THIS BETTER THAN THE BRITISH....
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 02/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the film adaptation of Noel Coward's comedic play. It is a fast-paced, drolly funny, comedic fantasy of the kind in which the British always excel. The screenplay is sharply acerbic and witty, with the actors engaged in the rapid-fire delivery of its lines. As they say, timing is everything, and here, the timing could not be better.
The plot revolves a well-known novelist, Charles Condomine, played by the ever urbane Rex Harrison. He has been married to his second wife, the no-nonsense Ruth (Constance Cummings) for the past five years, after having been a widower for seven. They live in a lovely house in the English countryside. As part of his research for a new novel that he is writing, he has arranged for a small dinner party, inviting another couple as well as an eccentric medium who calls herself Madame Arcati (Margaret Rutherford).
After dinner, Madame Arcati conducts a seance. She makes a series of rather odd and funny attempts to speak to the spirit world, and something changes, but the only one who knows it is Charles. It seems that Madame Arcati has conjured up the spirit of his long dead wife, Elvira (Kay Hammond), but the only one who can see and hear her is him.
Of course, the re-appearance of Elvira creates all kinds of mischief in the household, both upstairs and downstairs. Needless to say, Ruth is not happy, when Charles reveals what has happened, and while initially skeptical, she quickly becomes a believer when she sees things happen that are otherwise inexplicable.
When it becomes clear that Elvira is not going to go willingly, and Ruth is not going to let her rival stay without putting up a fight, Charles is caught in the middle. He soon finds out, however, that Elvira has special plans for him that soon backfire on all of them. When Madame Arcati is called back to try and put things to right, more mischief is concocted by those in the spectral realm.
Excellent performances are given by the entire cast. For my money, however, it is Margaret Rutherford who steals the show out from under her fellow thespians for her wacky, over the top performance as Madame Arcati. Margaret Rutherford infuses her character with a wonderful combination of British bluster and eccentric mannerisms that makes Madame Arcati absolutely memorable and quite funny.
This darkly humorous production is deftly directed by David Lean, and, while it could have used some fine-tuning towards the end, it is a minor point. Those who love wonderful vintage films will certainly enjoy this one."