Blithe Spirit

Synopsis: To get background for a new book, author Charles and his second wife Ruth light-heartedly arrange for local mystic Madame Arcati to give a séance. The unfortunate result is that Charles' first wife Elvira returns from beyond the grave to make his life something of a misery. Ruth too gets increasingly irritated with her supernatural rival, but M.Arcati is at her wit's end as to how to sort things out.
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
Director(s): David Lean
Production: United Artists
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
96 min

We are quite, quite wrong!

Once upon a time,

there was a charming country house,

in which lived a very happily married couple.

- Edith, you know the cocktail shaker?

- Yessum.

Well, l want you to fill two of those long-stemmed

glasses from it and bring them up here.

And, Edith, as you're not in the Navy,

it's unnecessary to do everything at the double.

And, Edith, when you're serving dinner,

try to remember to do it calmly and methodically.

- Yessum.

- Now, go and get the cocktails.

- Not at a run, Edith.

- Yessum.

What do you suppose induced Agnes

to leave us and go and get married?

The reason was becoming

increasingly obvious, dear.

Yes, we must keep Edith in the house more.

- Oh, dear.

- What's the matter?

- l have an idea this evening's going to be awful.

- l think it'll be funny, but not awful.

Why did you ask the Bradmans, darling?

He's as sceptical as we are.

- He'll probably say the most dreadful things.

- l warned him.

There had to be more than three of us

and the vicar and his wife are a) dreary

and b) wouldn't have approved at all.

You must promise not to catch my eye. lf

l giggle, and l'm very likely to, it'll ruin everything.

You mustn't. You must be dead serious

and, if possible, a little intense.

We can't hurt the old girl's feelings,

however funny she is.


That was her.

Oh. That's her, is it?

l've seen her in the village several times.

She certainly is a strange woman.

The vicar told me he saw her up on the knoll

on Midsummer Eve dressed in lndian robes.

She's been a professional in London for years.

lt's funny. l mean, to think of people

doing it as a profession.

l believe it's very lucrative.

- What is Mr Condomine getting out of her?

- Material for his book, a mystery story.

To The Unseen.

l must say, that's a wonderful title.

lf this evening's a success,

l shall write the first draft tomorrow.

Was Elvira a help to you,

when you were thinking something out?

Poor Elvira.

lf l died before you'd grown tired of me,

l wonder if you'd forget me so soon?

- What a horrible thing to say.

- l think it's interesting.

l haven't forgotten Elvira.

l remember her very distinctly indeed.

l remember how fascinating she was

and how maddening.

l remember her gay charm when she'd achieved

her own way and her acidity when she didn't.

l remember her physical attractiveness,

which was tremendous,

and her spiritual integrity, which was nil.

Was she more physically attractive than l am?

That's a very tiresome question

and fully deserves the wrong answer.

- You really are very sweet.

- Thank you.

- And a little naive, too.

- Why?

Because you imagine that l mind about Elvira

being more physically attractive than l am.

- l love you, my love.

- l know you do.

But not the wildest stretch of the imagination

could describe it as the first careless rapture.

- Would you like it to be?

- Good heavens, no.

Wasn't that a shade too vehement?

We're neither of us adolescent, Charles, or have

led prim lives. We've both been married before.

A careless rapture would be incongruous

and embarrassing.

l hope l haven't been a disappointment.

Don't be so idiotic.

Your first husband was older than you.

l wouldn't like you to miss out all along the line.

There are moments, Charles,

when you go too far.

Sorry, darling.

lf l died, l wonder how long it would be

before you married again.

You won't die. You're not the dying sort.

- Neither was Elvira.

- She was, now l come to think of it.

She had a certain ethereal quality.

Nobody could call you even remotely ethereal.

- Nonsense. She was of the earth, earthy.

- Yes, well, she is now, anyhow.

That's the kind of observation

that shocks people.

Discouraging to think how many are shocked

by honesty and how few by deceit.

- Write that down. You might forget it.

- You underrate me.

lt was a question of bad taste

more than honesty.

l was devoted to Elvira. We were married

five years. She died. l missed her very much.

That was seven years ago. l have now,

with your help, risen above the whole thing.


- Probably the Bradmans.

- Might be Madame Arcati.

Shall l go or shall we let Edith have her fling?

She's probably in a pre-sprinting position

waiting for Cook to open the kitchen door.

- Steady, Edith.

- Yes, sir.

Not late, are we? l only got back

from the hospital half an hour ago.

- Madame Arcati isn't here yet.

- We saw her coming up the hill on her bicycle.

- l'm so glad you could come.

- We've been looking forward to it. l feel excited.

- Violet will be good. l made her promise.

- Fine. Here, come and have a drink.

Oh, thanks so much.

Do you think there's anything

really genuine about it at all?

l'm afraid not, but it's interesting how easily

people allow themselves to be deceived.

She must believe it herself

or is the whole business a fake?

l suspect the worst, a real professional

charlatan. That's what l'm hoping for.

The character for my book must be a complete

impostor, the most important factor of the story.

- Do you think she tells fortunes? l love that.

- Yes, l expect so.

Have you attended her, Doctor, professionally?

Oh, yes. She had influenza.

She's only been here just over a year.


- Here she is.

She knows, doesn't she, about tonight?

- You won't spring it on her?

- lt was all arranged last week.

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David Lean

Sir David Lean, CBE (25 March 1908 – 16 April 1991) was an English film director, producer, screenwriter and editor, responsible for large-scale epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) and A Passage to India (1984). He also directed adaptations of Charles Dickens novels Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948), as well as the romantic drama Brief Encounter (1945). Originally starting out as a film editor in the early 1930s, Lean made his directorial debut with 1942's In Which We Serve, which was the first of four collaborations with Noël Coward. Beginning with Summertime in 1955, Lean began to make internationally co-produced films financed by the big Hollywood studios; in 1970, however, the critical failure of his film Ryan's Daughter led him to take a fourteen-year break from filmmaking, during which he planned a number of film projects which never came to fruition. In 1984 he had a career revival with A Passage to India, adapted from E. M. Forster's novel; it was an instant hit with critics but proved to be the last film Lean would direct. Lean's affinity for striking visuals and inventive editing techniques has led him to be lauded by directors such as Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, and Ridley Scott. Lean was voted 9th greatest film director of all time in the British Film Institute Sight & Sound "Directors' Top Directors" poll in 2002. Nominated seven times for the Academy Award for Best Director, which he won twice for The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia, he has seven films in the British Film Institute's Top 100 British Films (with three of them being in the top five) and was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1990. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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