My second ghost story this month after Journey to the Shore, which also featured corporeal-looking ghosts with appearances signaled by lighting changes. Widowed Mrs. Muir (Gene Tierney at her cutest, also of ghost film Heaven Can Wait) gets a good deal on a haunted house. She soon runs into financial trouble, but rather than get rid of the housekeeper (Edna Best, the Doris Day of the original Man Who Knew Too Much), she teams up with house-ghost Captain Gregg (Rex Harrison, the My Fair Lady/Unfaithfully Yours lead shouter at his shoutiest) to ghostwrite his uncensored memoirs.

The living Mrs. Muir and dead Mr. Gregg learn to tolerate each other and gradually develop deeper feelings, but Gregg disappears after she starts dating a children’s author she meets at her publisher’s, creepy George Sanders (Ingrid’s husband in Voyage to Italy). When that doesn’t work out because he turns out to be married, she stays home staring at the sea for decades until death, when she’s reunited with her beloved captain (he could’ve come back sooner and kept her company, but it’s still a nice ending).

One of Joe Mank’s earliest movies, two years before A Letter to Three Wives. The story was expanded into a late-1960’s TV series with Laura Dern’s mom from Blue Velvet as the lead, and an Irishman from Caprice as the ghost.

Three wives go off on a boat trip to somewhere, it’s not important, knowing that one of their husbands has run off with local temptress Addie Ross (who is cleverly not shown). Many flashbacks ensue.

Military farmgirl Jeanne Crain (Leave Her to Heaven) is married to Brad, and even though she’s kinda the movie’s lead, neither of them has much going on. Ann Sothern (The Blue Gardenia) is a radio writer whose husband Kirk Douglas (between Out of the Past and Ace in the Hole) tells off her insufferable bosses when they come for dinner. Oh, and she forgets Kirk’s birthday and she works too much. Linda Darnell (Unfaithfully Yours, also a movie about imagined cheating) is a hot gold digger from a poor family who landed dumpy, rich shop owner Paul Douglas (Clash By Night). He’s the husband who ran off with the unseen Addie, though he comes back, and all three wives get happy endings, though oddly we don’t see Jeannie’s.

Also: the great Thelma Ritter plays a family friend of Linda’s. Based on A Letter to Five Wives – two wives got cut. Remade in 1985 with Ben Gazzara as the shop owner.

I don’t know much about Bette Davis, seems she was a big star in the 30’s and this was her comeback picture (was supposed to be Claudette Colbert but she got sick). Anne Baxter had been in The Magnificent Ambersons, later starred in I Confess, The Blue Gardenia and The Ten Commandments. Movie is over-narrated by both George Sanders (Moonfleet, Rebecca, Voyage to Italy) as a gossip columnist and Celeste Holm (High Society, Three Men and a Baby) as Bette Davis’s best friend. The friend’s husband is “writer” Hugh Marlowe (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, Day the Earth Stood Still) and Bette’s beau and eventually husband is “director” Gary Merrill (of noir Where the Sidewalk Ends). Marilyn Monroe, a year or two before stardom but already showing her signature persona, has a small part as an aspiring actress.

Nice cinematography by Milton Krasner, who worked nonstop through the 30’s, shot some good noir pictures in the 40’s, and worked with Wilder, Ray, Minnelli and Hawks after this. Mankiewicz made this the same year as No Way Out, five years before Guys and Dolls.

Um, right, what happened in it? Bette is kinda washed up, I mean still a huge-selling star of stage (not screen) for her celebrated director/beau and writer/drinking buddy, but all the parts are still for younger girls and she’s starting to stretch the definition of young. Enter Eve, superfan who has seen every performance of Bette’s new play. Flattered, they let Eve hang around, but she’s not the innocent thing she claims to be – has been lying about her past and getting cuddly with the two men, conniving to put herself in Bette’s shoes, which she has very successfully done by the end (errr, the beginning, since it starts at the end).

Got a record 14 Oscar noms (winning writing, directing and picture) and even some awards at Cannes, beating out Sunset Blvd. The Third Man took it for cinematography, though. Lots (lots!) of self-conscious swipes at Hollywood (even one at the Oscars) and a few at television. I thought it was a little clunky, a little long, a little dry, overall quite good but didn’t strike my passions. Didn’t see Thee Acclaimed Bette Davis for the most part until the end when she is freaking out, and I guess in a couple other parts (see candy-eating scene below). Katy and Dawn liked it, too.

Who’s that on the right? Why, it’s the great Thelma Ritter, soon to be in Rear Window and Pickup on South Street. Center, facing Bette, is co-narrator and best friend Celeste Holm, and that’s one of the two male leads next to her, frankly they both looked the same to me:

I loved the bit during this fight at home when Bette is furiously eating candy instead of screaming at this guy:

Fey George Sanders with titular star Anne Baxter:

Awesome rear-projection shot. They are just pretending to walk, rocking back and forth in front of a screen. Why?

Terrific ending, with a new young hopeful who idolizes Eve and pretends (here, in a three-way mirror) to take her place, the cycle starting over again. This was the signature scene for small-time actress Barbara Bates, who never topped it and committed suicide twenty years later.

Worst part: at no point did the whole cast sing “guys and dolls… we’re just a bunch of crazy guys and dolls!” The Simpsons has misled me again. It had better not happen again… I wanna hear Lee Marvin sing “gonna paint that wagon / gonna paint it fine / gonna use oil-based paint / ’cause the wood is pine”.

Movie was really good… colorful and fun, full of cops and robbers and action without getting too serious, and swapping off the super-corny dancing segments with some slightly (slightly!) more dignified ones.

Frank Sinatra is a sorta wussy and slimy guy who sets up craps games, Marlon Brando (whyyy cast him in a musical, exactly?) is the tough super-gambler, Jean Simmons (Spartacus, Black Narcissus) is the cute missionary Brando falls for while taking her to Cuba to win a bet, Vivain Blaine (of nothing special) is Sinatra’s off-again actress girlfriend who can’t stand him but wants him to marry her, and Robert Keith (sheriff in The Wild One) is the cop trying to catch everyone involved.

After a buncha fun musical numbers, movie ends with a double wedding, so what else matters, really? Katy liked it too. Good night, everyone.