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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Blithe Spirit (1945)

A novelist (Rex Harrison) doing research for his next book invites a medium (Margaret Rutherford) to his home to conduct a seance. This backfires when the medium conjures up his deceased wife (Kay Hammond) which distresses his current wife (Constance Cummings) to no end. Based on the hit play by Noel Coward and directed by David Lean, this is a rather enjoyable adaptation of the play though Coward disliked what Lean did with it. The British did drawing room comedies, not screwball comedies like Hollywood but this is probably as close to the genre as they ever got. I found Hammond's performance rather lackluster even if she was recreating her stage role from the original West End production. But Harrison, Cummings and especially Rutherford as the eccentric Madame Arcati more than pick up the slack. The writing is very good and the plot almost irresistible which might account for why the play is constantly being revived. Though I could have done without the "cute" ending which is different from Coward's play, Lean's film is a real charmer. With Joyce Carey, Hugh Wakefield and Jacqueline Clarke. 

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