Ridley: Old movies. I love them. I have done since I was quite young. In particular, the old black and white, or barely just colour, love stories. To me, they’re infused with barely restrained passion. They adhere to the notion of, less is more. There was no bed hopping or clothes ripping in these films, just fiery declarations of love and desperate kisses, which made your heart swell as you looked on with a box of tissues, clutching a cushion to your chest and hoping everything would all work out for them.
I don’t quite know why this fascination with old films originally started, but I do know where it all began, with one my very favourite black and white films; The Ghost and Mrs Muir. Now Latimer has heard me mention this maybe a time or two…dozen…down through the years, I’ve seen it around four times. Not that many times for a favourite something of mine,( usually it gets worn out) but for some reason I’ve refused to buy a copy, I’ll only watch it when they show it on television, which is something that rarely happens now.
It is one of the most unconventional love stories- well when it first came out anyway, possibly not now, in a world where vampires and werewolves and fairies and what not are potential love interests. Though I would argue it’s still pretty unique!
It’s a 1947 film, (based on a novel, all the good ones are-teehee…) where a young widow, Lucy Muir, played by Gene Tierney, moves to an English seaside town and rents Gull Cottage, a house haunted by the ghost of it’s former owner, a roguish, irascible, surly (and down right smexy) sea captain, Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison, who I again love in another movie, My Fair Lady, as the Professor!).
They have a rocky, tit-for-tat relationship, she’s the first woman who hasn’t run out of the house screaming at the sight of an apparition appearing in the darkness beside her and who is able to give as good as she gets. (Booyaa for strong female characters everywhere! )
After her refusal to leave the cottage, they settle into an uneasy living arrangement, slowly beginning to enjoy each other’s company. However, it soon becomes clear to Captain Gregg that Lucy’s finances are drying up and she may have to leave the house anyway, so he decides that he will dictate his memoirs to her, entitled Blood and Swash, and then sell them.
As they write the book together, their friendship deepens into something neither of them ever name as they both begin to realise just how hopeless their situation is.
Lucy Muir: It’s no crime to be alive!
Captain Gregg: No, my dear, sometimes it’s a great inconvenience. The living can be hurt.
It is the Captain who begins to insist that Lucy should find a man who can be with her, in all senses of the word, so she doesn’t spend her life alone. (I am at this point shouting at the TV going, ‘Nooo, Captain Gregg, she wants you!! Don’t be a fool! Who cares if you’re a ghost, it could still work….somehow!’)
When they finish writing the book, after some trials and tribulations, it is published and with Captain Gregg’s racy recollections, the novel becomes a bestseller.
Captain Gregg: I’ve lived the life of a man and I’m not ashamed to admit it!
This of course, gives Lucy the money to allow her to stay in the house, with him. (Ridley: *cheesy grin*)
It is on a visit to her publisher in London, though, that Lucy meets and becomes attracted to suave Miles Fairley (George Sanders). (Ridley: ‘Run away from nasty hobbities man, Lucy! Me no trust him!’)
Captain Gregg is jealous of their relationship (swoon!).
Lucy Muir: You, yourself, said I should mix with people, that I should see… men.
Captain Gregg: I said men, not perfumed parlour snakes!
Captain Gregg: And the way he was smirking at you, like a cat in the fishmonger’s! You should have slapped his face!
Lucy Muir: Why? I found him… rather charming!
Captain Gregg: “Rather charming!” Now you’re starting to talk like him!
Lucy Muir: How in blazes do you want me to talk?
Captain Gregg: That’s better!
Captain Gregg soon begins to realise, though, that he is the main obstacle to her happiness. While he’s around, she won’t truly allow herself to find someone else, and so, while Lucy is asleep, the Captain convinces her that he was nothing but a dream…(cue Ridley’s heart shattering into millions of tiny pieces)
“Oh, Lucia, you are so little and so lovely. How I would have liked to have taken you to Norway and shown you the fiords in the midnight sun, and to China- what you’ve missed, Lucia, by being born too late to travel the Seven Seas with me! And what I’ve missed, too.”
(Ridley: *clasping hands together with a giant sigh*)
Of course, i’m not going to continue to spoil the whole film for you. GO and watch it. Get a nice cup of tea, a good squishy cushion and soft tissues. Sometimes the oldies really are the best!
Of course, it’s not hard to see how my younger self ended up devouring other old films in search of more epic romances such as that one, and down through the years I’ve found many, such as Sabrina (with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart), The Philadelphia Story (Cary Grant), Casablanca (Humphrey again), My Fair Lady (Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison), Gone with the Wind (Clark Gable), Gigi (Latimer put me wise to this about nine years ago!), and quite a few Fred Astaire films, but to name a few!
If you’ve any similar old movie suggestions for me, let me have them, I can set myself up for a long overdue film marathon!!