Three Classic Films with Charming Ghosts

If, like me, you can do without the deluge of horror stories that arrive every October, here are three classic films with charm and style–and ghosts. I’ve reviewed each in my other blog, Classic for a Reason, and include a link so you can read the full review.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

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Rex Harrison, Gene Tierney

A headstrong, independent widow goes against her late husband’s family’s wishes and strikes out on her own, young daughter and loyal maid by her side. Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney), no longer wishing to be under the thumb of her mother-in-law, decides to move to the coast. She finds an affordable cottage that would be perfect, except it is haunted by the ghost of sea captain Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison), who wants nothing more than to scare the young woman away.

Instead, there is an immediate attraction, which takes an interesting turn when Lucy learns her investment income has dried up and she has nothing to live on. Captain Gregg comes to the rescue with his idea to write a book, a memoir of his life at sea, salty language and racy stories included.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan

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Edward Everett Horton, Robert Montgomery, Claude Rains

Death has come about 50 years too soon for boxer Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery) when novice Angel 7013 (Edward Everett Horton) takes his soul early. Pendleton’s untimely arrival in heaven is confirmed to be a mistake by Angel 7013’s superior, Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains), but by the time they arrive on earth to place Joe back in his body, he’s been cremated.

Thus begins the search for the perfect new body. Despite his reservations, Joe ends up being placed in the physique of an unscrupulous millionaire, Bruce Farnsworth, who has been cheating thousands out of their hard-earned money. Joe sets out to right the situation, and falls in love in the meantime.

I Married a Witch

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Veronica Lake, Fredric March

In 17th century Salem, two witches, Jennifer (Veronica Lake) and her father Daniel (Cecil Kellaway), are burned at the stake, and an oak tree is planted over their ashes to trap their spirits. In revenge, Jennifer casts a spell on the man responsible for their demise, Jonathan Wooley. He and all his male descendants will find misery rather than love.

That spell’s magic is worked in the lives of all Wooley men over the next 270 years, and it looks like it’s about happen again. Gubernatorial candidate Wallace Wooley (Fredric March) is about to marry Estelle Masterson (Susan Hayward), whose father, J.B. (Robert Warwick), is Wallace’s biggest political supporter.

The day before the wedding (and two days before the election), lightning strikes the oak tree trapping  Daniel and Jennifer, and their spirits are released. They soon find Wallace, and Jennifer is gleeful about the thought of further revenge. Against his better judgment, Daniel allows Jennifer to talk him into letting her take human form once again.

Five Classic Films to Watch While You’re Cooped Up at Home

Looking for fresh ideas of movies to watch during this time of home confinement? Here are five of my favorite escapes in film. I’ve reviewed all of them on my other blog, Classic for a Reason. I’ve linked to those reviews, but here’s a brief description of each film below. These are all available to rent (or some, watch free) on Amazon Prime and YouTube. Enjoy!

The Palm Beach Story

Joel McCrea, Rudy Vallee, Mary Astor, Claudette Colbert The Palm Beach Story
Joel McCrea, Rudy Vallee, Mary Astor and Claudette Colbert work through the confusion of their relationships.

Tom (Joel McCrea) and Gerry (Claudette Colbert) Jeffers have hit a stalemate in their marriage: they are seemingly better friends than lovers, his business is floundering and she’s bored with the whole situation. He hasn’t given up, but she has, and one day she leaves for Palm Beach to get a divorce and find a wealthy man who not only can support her in the way she feels she deserves, but also provide the financing for Tom’s entrepreneurial project.

As fate would have it, on the train to Palm Beach, she meets just that man, John D. Hackensacker III (Rudy Vallee). In the meantime, thanks to a generous benefactor, Tom has flown to meet Gerry and stop her from divorcing him. Instead, he’s greeted by John, Gerry, and John’s flighty, oft-married sister, Princess Centimillia (Mary Astor).

The sparks fly and romance begins as Tom and Gerry face the truth about their marriage.

My Man Godfrey

Carole Lombard, William Powell starring in My Man Godfrey 1936
Wealthy Carole Lombard introduces down-and-out bum William Powell to her society friends.

Society elite Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard) and her sister Cornelia (Gail Patrick) are seeking a “forgotten man” as part of a scavenger hunt, and come upon Godfrey Smith (William Powell) living at a city dump. The two women are on separate teams, and Cornelia is the first to offer Godfrey five dollars if he’ll help her win the prize. Her offer is met with a shove into a pile of ashes, and Irene decides it’s best to walk away as well.

But Godfrey, after talking to the flighty Irene, chooses to help her win the scavenger hunt and triumph over her sister. To her delight, he denounces the group of wealthy citizens applauding him after her team’s victory is declared. She offers him a job as the family’s butler, which he graciously accepts.

But Godfrey isn’t just any butler, and Irene begins to fall for him, something Cornelia cannot abide.

How to Marry a Millionaire

Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall - How to Marry a Millionaire
Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall model for a local millionaire.

Schatze Page (Lauren Bacall), recently divorced, has joined with fellow models Loco Dempsey (Betty Grable) and Pola DeBevoise (Marilyn Monroe) to lease a high-class apartment for a year. Schatze, perhaps more than the others, is determined to bait and catch a millionaire, not the “gas station jockeys” she typically falls for.

The situation is looking bleak when J. D. Hanley (William Powell), a widower of indisputable wealth, begins courting Schatze. While she’s genuinely fond of the older gentleman, she’s also being pursued by charming Tom Brookman (Cameron Mitchell) a man she’s quite certain is too poor to be considered.

In the meantime, good natured Loco finds herself falling for a man she believes to be well off, but in fact, is merely a park ranger. Pola, who can’t see a foot in front of herself without her glasses, literally bumps into the man of her dreams, someone with an odd connection to all three women.

How the women resolve what they’re seeking with what they’re finding is as fun and classy as the film’s three stars.

Libeled Lady

Loy, Powell, Harlow, Tracy Libeled Lady
Myrna Loy and William Powell are confronted by Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy.

Gladys Benton (Jean Harlow) is set to marry Warren Haggerty (Spencer Tracy) when he discovers his tell-all front page story about a socialite, Connie Allenbury (Myrna Loy), is false and she’s set to sue the newspaper for the astronomical amount of $5 million dollars (keep in mind, this is 1936).

Figuring the best way out of the situation is to turn the heiress into the homewrecker the paper reported her to be, Haggerty hires Bill Chandler (William Powell) to lure her into a compromising situation with a married man.

First, however, he has to marry Chandler off to his bride-to-be to make him the married man in question. Of course, nothing goes as it’s supposed to (how could it?). Gladys starts falling for Bill, who in turn is falling for the lovely Connie. There’s a smart and sassy ending that isn’t really an ending at all.

Sitting Pretty

Clifton Webb in Sitting Pretty
You’ve no doubt seen the greeting card with the baby with oatmeal on his head–it comes from this movie!

Harry (Robert Young) and Tacey (Maureen O’Hara) King have a day-to-day challenge in keeping a nanny for their three rambunctious boys. After the last woman quits without notice, Tacey places yet another ad, hoping to find the right young woman for the job.

When a Lynn Belvedere answers and later accepts her job offer, she believes she’s found that woman. Both Harry and Tacey are shocked when a bristling Mr. Lynn Belvedere (Clifton Webb) arrives at the door, and are further bewildered when he makes the disconcerting statement he doesn’t like children.

He does have a way with the boys, however, so the Kings keep him on, and eventually learn his kinder side. What they don’t know is his secret motive for moving in with a suburban family.

When the Kings—and the entire town they live in—discover the truth, it jeopardizes both home and profession.

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