Blithe Spirit (1945)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The Noel Coward/David Lean combination which turned out such dramas as Brief Encounter and This Happy Breed sets its sights on the viewer's funny bone with Blithe Spirit. Rex Harrison plays a novelist, newly married to straight-laced Constance Cummings. Via a seance, Harrison accidentally summons the spirit of his first wife, Kay Hammond. Believing that Hammond wants to ruin his marriage, Harrison enlists the services of local medium Madame Arcati (Margaret Rutherford) to exorcise Hammond's spirit. She fails, and in time, Harrison's second wife is killed; now he has two playful spirits on his hands! Technicolor is used throughout Blithe Spirit, with the ghosts' shimmering paleness providing contrast to the plain, everyday colors of Harrison's conservative country home. Blithe Spirit was later transformed into the Broadway musical +High Spirits, with the original script bent out of shape to turn the character of Madame Arcati (played by Beatrice Lillie) into the leading role.
Comedy , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
United Artists

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Rex Harrison
as Charles Condomine
Margaret Rutherford
as Madame Arcati
Kay Hammond
as Elvira Condomine
Constance Cummings
as Ruth Condomine
Hugh Wakefield
as Dr. Bradman
Joyce Carey
as Mrs. Bradman
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Blithe Spirit

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (3)

Inasmuch as this is largely a photographed copy of the stage play [by Noel Coward], the camerawork is outstandingly good and helps to put across the credibility of the ghost story more effectively than the flesh and blood performance does.

Full Review… | November 6, 2007
Top Critic

Nifty special effects for the time, and plenty of Coward's inimitable wit and repartee.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Passably good, but it should have been better, what with Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, and Margaret Rutherford reading the Noel Coward lines.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The supernatural ménage of wartime England, staged by David Lean as an elegant fissure between the clipped precision of aristocratic manners and the great unknown beyond the drawing-room

Full Review… | October 10, 2015

... a lightweight comedy built on witty remarks and upper-class smugness (which Rex Harrison so perfectly embodies), but comedy is not Lean's strong suit.

Full Review… | May 4, 2012
Turner Classic Movies Online

Blithe Spirit is beloved by so many people that I feel like a curmudgeon handing it a mixed review. But when it comes to supernatural comedies starring Rex Harrison, I much prefer Joseph L. Mankiewicz's 1947 The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

Full Review… | April 25, 2012
Creative Loafing

Audience Reviews for Blithe Spirit


Considering the strength of the source material, its surprising the film feels so stale. The cast is alright, but one gets the sense that Lean wasn't that invested in directing this movie.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

My final David Lean, Noel Coward adaption I viewed was Blithe Spirit. I fell in love with this movie. There's no paranormal movie quiet like this. It's elegant in humor and moves quickly. There are no scares, it's more in depth on the idea of the other world, and a humorous view of how life is after you die. David Lean morphed the dead with the living, when an estranged wife comes to "visit" her husband and his second wife. She terrorizes the family through this, and a quote brought up early in this movie really summarizes it well. " It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit". Not only is it a great line but it is perfect in the film. Harrison, Cummings, and Hamond have great on screen chemistry, making this an amazing feel good comedy.

Daniel Dolgin
Daniel Dolgin

Super Reviewer

Fun filled and witty this is well acted by all and breezily directed but the whole thing is stolen by the wonderfully dotty Margaret Rutherford.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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