Classic Woman-centric Movie Review: Blithe Spirit (1945)

Hello, Persephoneers! Here we are in our fourth installment of Halloween-themed classic films. This week’s classic film is Blithe Spirit, released in 1945 and based on the play by Noel Coward. It was directed was David Lean and stars Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, and Kay Hammond.

Charles Condomine (Harrison), a novelist who is researching for his latest project, invites medium Madame Arcati to his home to conduct a seance. At first the seance is just for a laugh, and Charles, his wife Ruth (Cummings), and their guests are very much enjoying themselves. When Madame Arcati goes into a trance and Charles hears the spirit voice of his first wife, Elvira (Hammond), it’s not a laughing matter anymore, but he shrugs off his first suspicions, even though Madame Arcati is certain that she made contact with a spirit from the other side.

It turns out that Elvira did call out to Charles, and she appears to him to make him aware of her presence. Charles is the only one who can see Elvira, and as she more or less haunts his house, Ruth begins to wonder what has come over her husband. It finally gets to the point that to prove that Elvira is indeed there, Charles convinces her to perform the normla ghpstly tricks, which include causing a chair and a vase to float in front of Ruth.

Blithe Spirit DVD cover
DVD cover for film. Image via Wikipedia.

Ruth is not at all pleased with the situation, and she’s convinced that Elvira has come back from the afterlife to arrange Charles’s death so they can spend eternity together, and Madame Arcati can’t send Ruth Elvira hack to the other side. In an unfortunate and ironic series of events, Ruth drives off in Charles’s car and ends up in a fatal accident. Ruth, now a ghost, torments Elvira to the point that Elvira wants to leave. Charles, unable to bear the fighting between the two ghosts any longer, seeks out Madame Arcati’s help. She appears to send the spirits away and advises Charles to take a long vacation to recover from his ordeal. That’s a wonderful plan, until Charles is killed in a fatal auto accident, only to join Ruth and Elvira in the afterlife.

Noel Coward is very good at poking fun at the whole idea of a love triangle involving a man, his current wife, and another woman, only in this case, the other woman is dead. It’s funny to see what Elvira will do to try and get Charles to join her as a spirit, but he also seems to enjoy the attention from both the women. But the situation is so absurd and so completely accidental that yes, it is indeed funny, and that Charles is very foolishly enjoying it while it lasts.

Blithe Spirit can currently be found on Netflix and Amazon Instant.

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