Rex's Spirited Spirit
"Blithe Spirit" is an enjoyable light hearted ghost movie, adapted from Noel Coward's play and directed by David Lean. And do you know how you can ruin the simple enjoyment which is "Blithe Spirit"? Read reviews from those who like to search for deeper meaning because there are reviews which go into what they think Coward's play really means. There will be none of that depth here because "Blithe Spirit" is fun; it is fun because of a funny situation, funny lines and some brilliant performances full of luscious over the topness.
Writer Charles Condomine (Rex Harrison) and his wife Ruth (Constance Cummings) decide to hold a little dinner party for a couple of friends and clairvoyant Madame Arcati (Margaret Rutherford - Passport to Pimlico) as Charles is planning to include a charlatan spiritualist in his next book. But the evening doesn't go as he planned as when Madame Arcati contacts the other side she brings something back, in fact she brings someone back, Charles's deceased first wife Elvira (Kay Hammond) and she is in no hurry to return back to the other side despite the only one able to see or speak to her being Charles.
The storyline to "Blithe Spirit" is both simple and simply amusing as we have Charles caught in the middle of a visitation from his deceased wife Elvira and his current wife Ruth. It's simple because Ruth can't see Elvira so she thinks that Charles is either going crazy or playing a trick, Elvira dislikes Ruth and Charles has to find a way of not only placating them both but making Ruth believe that Elvira a is back. All of which plays out in a semi predictable manner as having proved to Ruth that Elvira exists we have them trying to get rid of each other.
But the joy of "Blithe Spirit" is that this simple story is simply fun starting with some cracking performances with the wonderful Margaret Rutherford delivering such a wonderfully OTT performance as Madame Arcati that it is simply impossible not to laugh at her eccentricity. It is even funnier when you think that Rutherford went on to play Miss Marple because it is such a wonderfully different sort of performance. Then you have Kay Hammond who is sexy as the dead Elvira, giving Charles a mischievous look all the time as if she is having some sort of sexually devious thoughts. And talking of which Rex Harrison adds his own sexual style as he enjoys having the woman he loved and his current love together with the possibilities it throws up.
And that brings me to the brilliant writing with such lines as Charles telling Ruth what fun the three of them could have as Elvira is sprawled across their bed. Yes there is plenty of clever little lines with beautiful double meanings, sneaking past the censors to provide an extra layer of amusement. It's not just clever lines because visually from Edith the maid running quickly everywhere to the look of Elvira it puts a huge smile on your face. Talking of which the green make up and clothes combined with red lipstick and nail polish makes Elvira a striking but also comical figure.
What this all boils down to is that "Blithe Spirit" is simply a fun ghost movie with devilish lines and some brilliant visual gags. It may now be well over 60 years old but "Blithe Spirit" is still as fun as ever.