AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Dir)
Release Date:   May 1947
Production Date:   29 Nov 1946--early Mar 1947
Duration (in mins):   104 or 108
Duration (in feet):   9,375
Duration (in reels):   11
Print this page
Display Movie Summary


Cast:   Gene Tierney (Lucy Muir)  
    Rex Harrison (The ghost of Capt. Daniel Gregg)  
    George Sanders (Miles Fairley)  
    Edna Best (Martha Huggins)  
    Vanessa Brown (Anna Muir as an adult)  
    Anna Lee (Mrs. Miles Fairley)  
    Robert Coote (Coombe)  
    Natalie Wood (Anna Muir as a child)  
    Isobel Elsom (Angelica Muir)  
    Victoria Horne (Eva Muir)  
    Whitford Kane (Sproule)  
    Brad Slaven (Enquiries)  
    William Stelling (Bill)  
    Helen Freeman (Author)  
    David Thursby (Sproggins)  
    Heather Wilde (Maid)  
    Stuart Holmes (Man on train)  
    Houseley Stevenson (Gardener)  
    Will Stanton (Porter)  

Summary: In London at the turn of the century, young widow Lucy Muir tells her late husband's mother Angelica and overbearing sister Eva that she wants to move out of the family home and pursue a life of her own. Together with her daughter Anna and housekeeper, Martha Huggins, Lucy departs for Whitecliff-by-the-Sea. There Lucy calls on Coombe, an estate agent, who reluctantly shows her Gull Cottage, a striking house that is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of its former owner, a sea captain named Daniel Gregg. Lucy insists on renting Gull Cottage, and during her first night in the house, as a fierce storm rages, she speaks to the ghost in the darkness. When it gruffly replies, Lucy lights a candle and gazes in amazement at the handsome captain. Gregg dismisses Coombe's claim that he committed suicide, explaining that he had accidentally kicked the gas heater on while sleeping. Impressed by Lucy's love for the house, Gregg decides to let her stay, and agrees to confine himself to the master bedroom where Anna will not see him. One day, Lucy's in-laws pay an unexpected visit to report that the gold mine that has been providing her modest income has stopped paying dividends, and insist that she return to London with them. Unheard by Eva and Angelica, Gregg tells Lucy that he wants her to stay, and she sweetly bids her relations to "shove off." Gregg then proposes that they repair her finances by collaborating on a book about his life on the sea. In the following weeks, Gregg dictates his "unvarnished" memoirs to Lucy, and the bond between them deepens, leaving her increasingly confused. When the book, Blood and Swash , is finished, Lucy takes the manuscript to the office of publishers Tacket and Sproule, where she attracts the attention of debonair author Miles Fairley. Miles arranges for Lucy to meet Sproule, who reads the bawdy tale in one sitting and happily agrees to publish it. After leaving the office, Lucy shares a cab with the roguish Miles, who tells her that he writes children's books under the pseudonym "Uncle Neddy." One afternoon, Lucy encounters Miles painting near the beach at Whitecliff, and he proclaims his love for her. They begin courting, and although both Gregg and Martha express disdain for Miles, Lucy decides to marry him. Gregg sadly accepts her decision, and after telling the sleeping Lucy that when she wakes, she will believe that their entire relationship has been a dream, he departs. One day, Lucy goes into town to collect a royalty check and impulsively decides to visit Miles. When she arrives at his house, however, she is greeted by Miles's wife, who gently tells her that this sort of thing has happened before. Years pass, and the now grown Anna returns from the university with her beau Bill, a naval officer, and tells her mother they will soon be engaged. Lucy is stunned when Anna tells her she used to talk with Gregg's ghost when she was a child, and admits that she too encountered him in her "dreams." Many years later, the elderly Lucy reads Martha a letter from Anna saying that her daughter, Little Lucy, is engaged to an airplane captain. After Martha leaves the room, Lucy dies. At that moment, Gregg appears and reaches out to Lucy, and her ghost--which resembles Lucy as a beautiful young woman--rises from the old woman's body. Arm in arm, the two spirits leave Gull Cottage and disappear into the fog. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Dir)
  F. E. Johnston (Asst dir)
  Constance Collier (Dial dir)
  Arthur Pierson (Dial dir)
Producer: Fred Kohlmar (Prod)
Writer: Philip Dunne (Scr)
Photography: Charles Lang Jr. (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Richard Day (Art dir)
  George Davis (Art dir)
Film Editor: Dorothy Spencer (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dec)
  Stewart Reiss (Set dec)
Costumes: Charles LeMaire (Ward dir)
  Eleanor Behm (Cost)
  Oleg Cassini (Cost for Gene Tierney des by)
Music: Bernard Herrmann (Mus)
Sound: Bernard Freericks (Sd)
  Roger Heman (Sd)
Special Effects: Fred Sersen (Spec photog eff)
Make Up: Ben Nye (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: R. A. Klune (Prod mgr)
  Ben Silvey (Unit mgr)
  Ray C. Moore (Loc mgr)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text: Based on the novel The Ghost of Captain Gregg and Mrs. Muir by R. A. Dick (Chicago, 1945).
Authors: R. A. Dick

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 13/6/1947 dd/mm/yyyy LP1107

PCA NO: 11840
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Romance
  Romance
  Fantasy
 
Subjects (Major): Ghosts
  Haunted houses
  Romance
  Sea captains
  Widows
 
Subjects (Minor): Authors
  Ghost writers
  Housekeepers
  In-laws
  Infidelity
  London (England)
  Memoirs
  Mothers and daughters
  Publishers and publishing
  Real estate agents

Note: A condensed version of R. A. Dick's novel was published in the Sep 1945 issue of Ladies Home Journal under the title The Ghost and Mrs. Muir . According to news items in HR , June Lockhart was originally cast in the role of the adult "Anna," and Richard Ney was originally cast in the role of "Miles Fairley," but was forced to withdraw from the production due to a conflict with his shooting schedule for Ivy . According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, studio production chief Darryl F. Zanuck originally wanted John M. Stahl to direct the film. In a 24 Jun 1946 memo to producer Fred Kohlmar and screenwriter Philip Dunne, Zanuck expressed his admiration for Stahl's work on Holy Matrimony (see entry below), a film he felt had "exactly the same type of English humor and sentiment" as The Ghost and Mrs. Muir . Zanuck went on to endorse Norma Shearer for the role of "Lucy." "Many people, including [Twentieth Century-Fox president] Spyros Skouras, believe that Norma Shearer has one great picture left in her yet," he wrote, "and that she would make the same comeback that Joan Crawford made last year [in Mildred Pierce ]. She is certainly no deader than Joan was."
       Some scenes in the film were shot on location in Palos Verdes, CA. Additional footage for process plates was shot in Monterey. An 11 Feb 1947 HR news item reports that production was suspended when Gene Tierney broke her foot in an accident. She completed the filming with a cast on her leg, which was covered by the long period skirts required for the role. Charles Lang, Jr. was borrowed from Paramount for this production. His work on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Black and White). The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on 1 Dec 1947, with Madeleine Carroll and Charles Boyer in the starring roles, and on Screen Directors' Playhouse on 16 Aug 1951, again with Boyer as "Capt. Gregg." On 17 Oct 1956, the story was adapted as a segment of The Twentieth Century-Fox Hour on CBS-TV, under the title "Stranger in the Night." Joan Fontaine and Michael Wilding starred. Twentieth Century-Fox later produced a television series, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir , which starred Hope Lange, Edward Mulhare and Charles Nelson Reilly. The series, which was updated to modern New England, ran on NBC network for the 1968-69 season, then switched to the ABC network for the 1969-70 season. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   24 May 1947.   
Daily Variety   16 May 47   p. 3, 14
Daily Variety   19 Oct 1956.   
Esquire   Sep 1947.   
Film Daily   20 May 47   p. 6.
Harrison's Reports   24 May 47   p. 83.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Nov 46   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Dec 46   p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Jan 47   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Jan 47   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Feb 47   p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Feb 47   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Mar 47   p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter   16 May 47   pp. 3-4.
Independent Film Journal   4 Jan 47   p. 35.
Los Angeles Times   4 Jul 1947.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   24 May 47   p. 3641.
New York Times   27 Jun 47   p. 17.
New Yorker   5 Jul 1947.   
Newsweek   30 Jun 1947.   
Time   23 Jun 1947.   
Variety   21 May 47   p. 20.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film

© 2014 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.