Blithe Spirit, David Lean’s delightful film version of Noël Coward’s theater sensation (onstage, it broke London box-office records before hitting Broadway), stars Rex Harrison as a novelist who cheekily invites a medium (Margaret Rutherford) to his house to conduct a séance, hoping the experience will inspire a book he’s working on. Things go decidedly not as planned when she summons the spirit of his dead first wife (Kay Hammond), a severe inconvenience for his current one (Constance Cummings). Employing Oscar-winning special effects to spruce up Coward’s theatrical farce, Blithe Spirit is a sprightly supernatural comedy with winning performances. –The Criterion Collection
Director, writer, and producer David Lean, grew up in a strict religious background in which movies were forbidden, to become one of the world’s most celebrated filmmakers. Beginning as a tea boy in the mid-‘20s, he was lucky enough to move into editing just as sound films were coming on the scene. By the mid-’30s, he was regarded as one of the top in his field. Lean turned down several chances to make low-budget films, and got his first directing opportunity (unofficially) on Major Barbara (1941), one of the most celebrated movies of the early ‘40s. Noel Coward hired Lean as his directorial collaborator on his war classic In Which We Serve (1943), and, after that, Lean’s career was made. For the next 15 years, he became known throughout the world for his close, intimate, serious film dramas. Some (This Happy Breed 1944, Blithe Spirit 1945, and Brief Encounter 1945) were based upon Coward’s… read more
What a fun romp. "Charles dear, perhaps there's something pressing on your brain." This film is just so magnificently splendid. Characters bent on characterization of their caricature -true comedic dimension. I'm afraid imagination such as this has long been replaced by the logical cinema. "If we're not very careful she'll materialize a hockey team."
David Lean's delightful adaptation of Noel Coward's play may be a bit of a departure for Lean, but it's nevertheless a fun, if frothy film. Telling the story of a wealthy man whose seance with a loony medium accidentally conjures the ghost of his dead wife, BLITHE SPIRIT is a spirited and entertaining post-war comedy that served as an antidote for a nation pulling themselves out of the rubble of WWII.