Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book to movie...

It's amazing to compare the book version of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir to the movie...and wonder how Hollywood thought it would make a good film. The book is a meandering mess that rattles on for decades as Mrs. Muir lives her pathetic life. Captain Gregg is never seen by her; he's only in her mind...except when he's really angry. And Lucy Muir is such a sniveling piece of work, easily bullied by her in-laws and everyone else, who only grows a hint of a spine after she's 50 and has been cajoled into it by Captain Gregg, a voice in her head that always puts her down as immature. I didn't like either one of them. And the ending paragraph of the book was just awful.

In the movie, Lucy is stronger. More independent. The main action is compressed into a few years, and they dropped her obnoxious son to keep the daughter. As portrayed by Gene Tierney, Lucy Muir is still very much a turn of the 20th Century woman but with enough self-assuredness that she can fight back when need be. And Rex Harrison as Captain Gregg is still an overpowering presence, but he's not nearly as demeaning and meddlesome as in the book. And you can see him...which is, of course, necessary for a movie.

The film is just a beautifully realized romance directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz that's laced with mysticism and a sense of mutual-respect between a living person and a spirit (talk about love against impossible odds). The book is the story of a mousy woman's life, who's always misused by men and can't seem to handle her own affairs without a man's help...even as she's about to die. And this was written by a woman, and was a best-seller! Talk about changing tastes...

Wow...if I hadn't already thought Philip Dunne was a good screenwriter (he did screenplays for Suez, Stanley & Livingston, How Green Was My Valley, and probably added the humanity to Kiss of Death), I'd definitely think so, now.

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