The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

You never realize just how formulaic the movies you typically watch truly are until you see something completely unique, such as this one. Considering how eager studios are to remake everything, I’m surprised this wasn’t of interest to anyone. It’s probably just as well; they would likely turn it into a slapstick comedy. I’m sure various ideas have been inspired by its premise, though: an independent young widow defies social convention and wants to buy a property for herself. The seaside cottage she likes is available and the price is right but only because it’s haunted. An old sailor resents having anyone take over but soon he accepts the plucky visitor.

Gradually, she seems less like an intrusion and he makes an offer that will simultaneously allow him to live vicariously in the world of the living and her to support herself without having to rely on her meddling in-laws. The concept of two kindred spirits divided by physical matter and linear time, rather than merely being star- crossed (i.e. doomed by status or geographical distance), seems vaguely familiar but I’m hard- pressed to think of an example that doesn’t ultimately fall flat. This one works perfectly.

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