Verdict: Weird coming-of-age satire. When Noel Coward, whose play Blithe Spirit had been a smash hit in the West End, saw David Lean's film version in , he crushed Lean by saying — and I paraphrase only slightly — 'You've just mucked up the best thing I ever wrote. Blithe Spirit is about spiritualism, about raising the dead, and I fear that were Coward's own ghost to see Edward Hall's remake, his silk cravat might levitate from his neck and tighten around Hall's. It is a jolly film and the Art Deco backdrops are truly ravishing, but it is played as broad knockabout comedy in a way that obliterates the cleverness of the original concept. The charge against Lean, whose film starring Rex Harrison and Margaret Rutherford was subtle by comparison, was that he was a wholly serious man of cinema, lacking the deft comic touch required to do proper justice to Coward's play.
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Blithe Spirit: The Windsor Set
'Blithe Spirit' is a bit of forgettable fun for a drab, drizzly evening
For more than 70 years, Angela Lansbury has been making it look easy. She was a cheerfully manic Mrs. Speaking by phone from Los Angeles, Lansbury offered a bracingly simple explanation for her uncanny early and sustained success. A more succinct account of the psychological and emotional makeup of someone born to the theatrical manner is hard to imagine. Hers was a life, it seems, destined to be fulfilled in front of an audience. Twin brothers came along four years after Angela was born.
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Blithe Spirit is a British fantasy - comedy film directed by David Lean. The film features Kay Hammond and Margaret Rutherford , in the roles they created in the original production, along with Rex Harrison and Constance Cummings in the lead parts of Charles and Ruth Condomine. While not very successful at the time and a disappointing adaptation according to Coward himself, it has since come to be considered notable for its Technicolor photography and Oscar -winning visual effects in particular  and has been re-released several times, notably as one of the ten early David Lean features restored by the British Film Institute for release in As Charles, his wife Ruth and their guests, George and Violet Bradman barely restrain themselves from laughing, Madame Arcati performs peculiar rituals and finally goes into a trance. Charles then hears the voice of his dead first wife, Elvira.
Elvira makes continual attempts to disrupt Charles's marriage to his second wife, Ruth, who cannot see or hear the ghost. The play was first seen in the West End in , creating a new long-run record for non-musical British plays of 1, performances. It also did well on Broadway later that year, running for performances. Coward adapted the play for film in , starring Rex Harrison , and directed a musical adaptation, High Spirits , on Broadway in It was also adapted for television in the s and s and for radio.