Bernard Hermann

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1946)

After the death of her husband, Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) spends a year living with her controlling mother-and-sister-in-law.  Eventually, Lucy decides it would be best if she found a place of her own to raise her daughter Anna (Natalie Wood as a child, Vanessa Brown as an adult).  Her family highly disapproves of this idea, but she’s determined to live on her own.  She finds a place that would be perfect for her and the price seems almost too good to be true.  When she goes to look at the place, she quickly discovers the place is haunted.  Other tenants have been scared off by the ghost, but Lucy is determined to live there.

After she moves in, Lucy realizes the house is haunted by its previous owner, Captain Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison).  Daniel tries to scare her away, but after she stands up to him, the two of them become very fond of each other.  Daniel manages to help Lucy out in many ways.  He helps her stand up to her controlling family and when she falls into financial trouble, he has her write his life story for him, which becomes a big hit.  Eventually,they fall in love with each other, but they know they couldn’t truly be together.

After meeting with her publisher one day, Lucy meets children’s author Miles Fairley (George Sanders) and can’t resist his charms.  The two of them begin a relationship, but Daniel is jealous of their relationship and tries to warn her about Miles, but Lucy won’t listen.  Daniel decides the best thing he can do is step out of Lucy’s life and lets her carry on her relationship with Miles.  Unfortunately, it turns out Daniel was right about Miles and Lucy soon discovers that Miles is already married and has children of his own.  Heartbroken, Lucy goes home to live out her life as a single woman.  As the years go by, Daniel doesn’t come to visit her, but she never forgets him.  One night, as an old woman, Lucy sits down in her room and passes away.  Daniel finally appears, waiting to lead her into the afterlife with him where they can finally be together again.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a pretty unique movie.  At first, I thought it might be something along the lines of The Uninvited, but then it became more of a fantasy movie than a horror movie, and then it finally turned into a romance movie.  It can be hard to make a movie with so many shifts in style, but Joseph L. Mankiewicz totally made it work.  I loved Gene Tierney as Lucy and Rex Harrison was spot-on as Captain Daniel Gregg.  This was such a charming and sweet movie with an excellent Bernard Hermann score as the icing on the cake.  This would be the perfect movie to watch on a cool Fall night while having a cup of hot chocolate.

The Trouble with Harry (1955)

Usually, when a dead body turns up in the woods, people aren’t lining up to admit being responsible for that person’s demise.   But when Harry Worp is found dead in the woods, three people believe they are each responsible for killing him.  First there’s Harry’s wife, Jennifer Rogers (Shirley MacLaine).  She thinks she killed him by hitting him over the head with a bottle.  Then there’s Captain Albert Wiles (Edmund Gwenn), who believes he accidentally shot Harry while hunting rabbits.  And last, but certainly not least, there’s Ivy Gravely (Mildred Natwick), who hit Harry on the head with the heel of her hiking boot when he tried to assault her.  But either way, none of them are exactly sad to see Harry go.

When local artist Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe) comes along to sketch the scenery, he stumbles upon Harry’s body and also finds Albert nearby.  Albert explains what happened and Sam agrees to help him bury Harry.  Before Sam knows it, he’s helped bury and exhume Harry multiple times and is wrapped up in trying to figure out exactly how Harry died.

The Trouble with Harry manages to be both an unusual Alfred Hitchcock film and still distinctly his style.  If you go into The Trouble with Harry assuming that, because it’s Hitchcock, it will be a thriller like Vertigo or North by Northwest, you will be sorely disappointed.  Instead, it’s actually a dark comedy.  I wouldn’t call it one of Hitchcock’s best films, but I am fond of it since I have a somewhat dark sense of humor so I thought it was hilarious.  The humor is very much Hitchcock’s style; much more so than Mr. and Mrs. Smith was.  The cinematography is stunning; there are so many shots worthy of being on a postcard.  And I love the stark contrast between the picturesque scenery and the morbid comedy. The Trouble with Harry is also noteworthy for being the film debuts of Shirley MacLaine and Jerry Mathers.  It was also the first Hitchcock film to be scored by composer Bernard Hermann.

This was one of Hitchcock’s personal favorites of the movies he made and I can see why. However, I can also easily see why it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  Dark comedy is one of those things that you either like or you don’t and I’ll admit the movie gets off to a little bit of a slow start.  The Trouble with Harry wasn’t a big box office success when it was first released, but I have a feeling it might have found more of an audience if it had been made in the 70’s or 80’s instead.

This year’s For the Love of Film blogathon is raising money to make the three recently rediscovered reels of 1923’s The White Shadow available to stream on the National Film Preservation Foundation’s website for three months. Hitchcock served as an assistant director for The White Shadow, one of his first major jobs. If you would like to donate, simply click the button!  For more from the For the Love of Film Blogathon, you can find other contributions at Ferdy on Films, The Self-Styled Siren, and This Island Rod.