Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1947. Twentieth Century Fox. Screenplay by Philip Dunne, based on the novel by R.A. Dick. Cinematography by Charles Lang. Produced by Fred Kohlmar. Music by Bernard Herrmann. Production Design by George W. Davis, Richard Day. Costume Design by Eleanor Behm. Film Editing by Dorothy Spencer. Academy Awards 1947.
Gene Tierney decides to break free of her late husband’s dowdy family and informs her mother- and sister-in-law that, despite the difficult financial circumstances her husband’s death impressed upon her, she has decided to strike out on her own. She rents a beautiful seaside cottage with her little daughter (a nine year-old Natalie Wood) and makes the local housing agent very happy: the place is haunted by the ghost of the sea captain (Rex Harrison) who once lived there, and while all other tenants decamp after the first night in fear of the supernatural occurrence, Tierney finds it a delightful manner of company for herself. Getting to know this mean old spirit who stomps about the house constantly chiding her, Tierney helps Harrison write a book about his life on the sea and, in the process, falls madly in love with him. This becomes a challenge when a living man of flesh and blood (George Sanders) falls in love with her and threatens to sweep her off her feet. Beautiful photography and a gorgeously sentimental but unmanipulative sense of romance make for a solid classic whose age has only added to its charms. It was old-fashioned even when it was a new film, but in the best possible way, and Tierney gives one of her richest performances.