Alice Oscura, Featured Writer
Plot: Writer Charles Condomine (Rex Harrison) invites local medium Madame Arcati (Margaret Rutherford) to conduct a séance in order to gather material for a mystery novel that he is currently working on. However, the sceptic is soon turned into a believer when Madame Arcati manages to conjure up the ghost of Charles’ first wife, the deceased Elvira (Kay Hammond).
Review: Blithe Spirit (1945) is a dark British comedy film adaptation of a 1941 play of the same name by Noel Coward. The film is a bit eccentric, and the dated special effects do not hold up too well. Even though the film was shot in Technicolor, it would appear that most of the emphasis was placed on the film’s dialogue which is a bit dated as well. The stellar cast is what holds this one together, especially if you can get past the head-to-toe unflattering green makeup that was used to emphasise that the character was definitely not from the land of the living.
The wacky plot seems to poke fun at the world of mystic mediums as all of Madame Arcati’s conjuring practices are absolutely silly and hilarious. Actress Margaret Rutherford’s performance is nothing short of perfect as she draws the audience’s attention in all of her scenes. It is soon evident that Madame Arcati really has no idea what she is doing and makes the situation much worse, with hilarious results.
Rex Harrison’s character Charles soon finds himself caught in a bit of a love triangle as he now has to contend with two wives at the same time, one already previously deceased. However, as the film goes along, we realise that Charles’ first wife Elvira (Kay Hammond) was a mischievous, trouble-making, promiscuous woman. She had no qualms in revealing to Charles who she had numerous affairs with, including a captain during their honeymoon no less. Elvira selfishly hatches a plan to mess with Charles’ car in order for him to crash and die so that he can be stuck with her forever in eternity and provide her company. However, through a strange twist, Charles’ current wife Ruth (Constance Cummings) takes the car to see the Vicar, crashes at the bottom of a hill, and dies. Now Charles is stuck with his two dead wives’ ghosts while he anxiously waits for Madame Arcati to send their spirits back to where they should be.
The plot does handle death in a particularly casual fashion, but I think that is the point of the entire story. You can definitely see by the film’s delivery that it would fare way better on stage, but that isn’t to say that it wasn’t an entertaining film by any means. It is a charming, witty classic that is definitely not meant to be taken seriously. You can literally just switch off your brain and have a few laughs, while you marvel at how far cinematic techniques have come since that time. While the film was unsuccessful at the box office upon its original release it has become a classic as a reminder from a different era.
Alice’s Score: 6.5 out of 10
For more classic comedy with a spooky twist you can check out my review of Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein here. Or if you’re in the mood for a much darker classic film you can check out my review of Dial M for Murder by clicking here.
Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. You can find me as Dark Alice Reviews on Facebook where you’ll get my reviews hot off the press. You can also find me on Instagram as alice_oscura and my Twitter handle is @lise_veliz2. For my extended bio you can click here.