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Thread: Blithe Spirit

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carmel
    Hi bought this film for £2 in HMV last year a bargin i loved it.
    that's right it is £2 at HMV I bought a copy of that for my man he loves margaret rutherford

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by robbie71
    I love this film.. Margaret is great in this...



    Adapted from a play by Noel Coward, Charles and his second wife Constance, are haunted by the ghost of his first wife, Elvira. Medium Madame Arcati tries to help things out by contacting the ghost.


    The film was repeated at least three times last week on Freeview and so I caught snippets of each showing. The actress who played Elvira, where on earth did she get that accent from? It sounded like a cross between a 1930s working class film character dialect (all that was missing was to end each sentence with "see!" or the occassional "....and no mistake!") and some old baroness who'd been mixing too much gin with her sherry!

  3. #23
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    Two other memorable Rutherford performances for me were as Miss Prism in that superb "The Importance of Being Earnest", and the wonderful moment when she first saw the Mermaid in "Miranda".

  4. #24
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    Back to the heresy thread concept...



    I know this sounds heretical, but I think BLITHE's weakness is the poor dialog that prevents Hubby from simply speaking the first name of whichever wife he's addressing. That simple and polite mechanism would have solved much bantering which consumes a good portion of the film. It's the Confused Dialog Tool, and it's used in many comedies.



    But I think that's why BLITHE won't be on my Top 10 Favorites list.



    However, the film is more important (than good) to me because it shows how a supporting actor can re-energize the story with every scene they're in - and that's Margaret Rutherford.



    But it's not so much her dialog - good or bad. It's just her.



    She's got other films where she does this - SMALLEST SHOW, IMPORTANCE, MIRANDA. But BLITHE has her as a relatively large contributor to the film's scene number and dialog lines, as well as turning points.



    I probably like IMPORTANCE more than BLITHE, and therefore, Margaret's scenes don't stand as such stark contrasts as in BLITHE.



    That's why I think I rate BLITHE as a More Important Film than just good or bad.

  5. #25
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    I was always of the opinion character actors give movie character, weight and add to credibility. Leading men and ladies are, specially nowadays, to attract audience, but smart supporting team will always be the skeleton of a well composed story. It's so frustrating being able to grasp only a few minutes of Jim Broadbent in many movies he does. For example. Meh...



    Btw, Christine, how does it feel in telescopic heels? Giddy? :

  6. #26
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    I don't see too many modern films where the supporting actors are used as well as they were in decades past. Or maybe I'm so 'telescoped' (ha ha) that I don't notice much beyond the stars.



    Or it's an ensemble cast like Scorcese's AFTER HOURS where it's just one parade of supporting actors after another, and the story and the director assemble them into something memorable.



    Rutherford is slightly used in MIRANDA, and it's poorer for it. She's such a vital part to BLITHE and I appreciate the differences in both films and what she brings to them.



    (And you probably know what it's like! ha ha - our secret.)

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ljelja
    I was always of the opinion character actors give movie character, weight and add to credibility. Leading men and ladies are, specially nowadays, to attract audience, but smart supporting team will always be the skeleton of a well composed story.
    Absolutely...that's one of the many things I love about Powell and Pressburger films, the time and effort spent on the subsidiary characters....how great are Commander Knight in IKWIG, Abraham Sofaer, and the dead crowds in AMOLAD, the villagers in ACT, Hay Petrie in everything...everybody in Blimp....casting is one thing, but the writing and direction have to be spot on too...

  8. #28
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    Yeah, After Hours...and then many similar successful flicks where many great, usually leading performers execute superbly. In that regard, I always have in mind a certain film: Murder by Death. Cast is superb and all of them did a splendid job. Timing was impeccable, dosage leveled, no one stood out or outshone others, such an intelligent team work...because all were very clever actors. If typical leading stars are cast all in one, it mostly turns out a festival of competing deliveries. Rarely have such experiments been successful when big names are all in, Glengarry Glen Ross being another exception to the rule.



    Then, there are good (supporting) character actors today, which almost always do nice job if mixed together. Boogie Nights being an example. I'd put After Hours in this category as well.

  9. #29
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    Sorry Guys, I'm not very good at this computer stuff. I'll learn, if I'm spared.

  10. #30
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    Surely one of the great strengths of Brit films has always been its wonderful cadre of supporting actors. This is possibly in the tradition of Brit authors who wrote into the classic novels equally great supporting characters. Think of the Dicken's films. The definitive "Scrooge" the Alistair Sims one, has incredible performances by such stallwarts as Katheline Harrison, Miles Maleson, Peter Bull et alles. Even today the Harry Potter films keep up the tradition even if some of the players are computer generated.

  11. #31
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    I just watched this film agian this weekend, it is a great movie, but i think if you take margaret out of it, it may not be as good, but its a great story..

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Santonix
    Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit whilst enjoying an extended stay at Portmeirion in North Wales. If you visit ask to stay in the "Upper Fountain Suite", the very suite Coward occupied and were Madame Arcati et al came to life.
    Thanks, Ive just been to Portmeirion and there was confusion-some say Blithe Spirit was written in Watch House -others Fountain..thanks for clearing it up.

  13. #33
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    This movie is, I think, one of the most enjoyable comedies ever put on film - but Margararet Rutherford is the main reason. I have watched scenes with her again and again - I cannot see anyone else playing the part. She is like a baseball player whose number is retired when they stop playing: the role of the "medium" is retired!



    But as for the rest of the movie: there are things about it that do not make sense. The primary problem is miscasting. Rex Harrison is too young - or at least looks and acts too young - for the part; perhaps, though, he is just the wrong type. He has such outstanding timing that he is enjoyable to watch, but I don't really see him as a man who is henpecked by TWO domineering wives. He seems more like the wily sort who would drive women crazy, but keep them coming back for more. I think the actor who plays the doctor would have been a better choice for the part.



    As for the women, the second wife is much better looking than the first, which means the plot no longer makes very much sense. Why would he want to leave Ruth for Elvira? Why would anyone?



    Constance Cummings was a very attractive woman; she is good looking and also has an appealing personality as well as charm. Kay Hammond might have been attractive, but it is hard to tell because she is green in the film. Somehow a green ghost with a shrill, nagging voice is not my idea of an irresistable woman. The scene where he stays downstairs with his obnoxious ghost-wife while his good looking real wife is left alone in bed upstairs doesn't make sense.



    Also, it seems that the main character doesn't really like women at all. This is hard to explain - but he seems to be a misogynist, which is not appealing.



    Of course, I am taking the movie too seriously. I know the play was written during the Blitz and provided respite for thousands during the war. And I watch the movie again and again to see Margaret Rutherford. What a brilliant comic actress!!



    I like the scene where she throws herself into the seance: "Chin up! Never give in! That's my motto! Now let's make this one a real rouser!!"

  14. #34
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    I've never analysed this great film quite like that but, as you conclude, it is really 'of its time' and a good and enjoyable piece of cinema. And it's from the great David Lean!

  15. #35
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bertie
    I've never analysed this great film quite like that but, as you conclude, it is really 'of its time' and a good and enjoyable piece of cinema. And it's from the great David Lean!
    Yes - when I saw the name "David Lean" I bought it. There is no one today making his sort of film anymore.



    As for analysis - yes, I go a bit far. But I always enjoy trying to understand WHY I like a film, or WHY I am disappointed. With a comedy like "Blithe Spirit", the material is so light and relaxed that it doesn't bear the weight of analysis, but I still enjoy the process.

  16. #36
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimR
    Yes - when I saw the name "David Lean" I bought it. There is no one today making his sort of film anymore.
    There weren't very many making them back them either



    Steve

  17. #37
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    There weren't very many making them back them either



    Steve
    Very true! It's interesting: the man who made "Blithe Spirit" and "Great Expectations" also made "Doctor Zhivago" and "Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia". I cannot think of another director who succeeded with such diverse material; also, he moved between small scale intimate drama and panoramic spectacle, and succeded in both. I cannot imagine Ingmar Bergman filming a historicial epic or Orson Welles directing a drawing room comedy.

  18. #38
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    This movie is a great one. Margaret Rutherford is superb in her hare brained acting as the medium. Rex Harrison adds the comic element alongside his dead wife, played by Kay Hammond.

  19. #39
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    I learned recently that up until 1964 a version of the Blithe Spirit opening theme music was used as afternon startup music for the London weekday ITV station Associated Rediffusion.

  20. #40
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Brett
    I learned recently that up until 1964 a version of the Blithe Spirit opening theme music was used as afternon startup music for the London weekday ITV station Associated Rediffusion.
    Not surprising: I like the score. It has the same tone of eccentric, charming humor as the film.



    It's another example of a British film where the music precisely matches the content and tone.



    I noticed that recently with Went the Day Well , The Happiest Days of Your Life, The Man Who Could Work Miracles and Battle of Britain. In each case, the music stands on its own while working as integral part of the whole.

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