Ghost and Mrs Muir A

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

It’s no secret that here at borg.com, we’re big fans of Halloween.  And there’s nothing I like better than a great ghost story.  But if creepy and gory aren’t really your thing, TCM is offering up some of the best in lighter-hearted classic haunts tonight as part of its Ghost Story Thursdays month-long series.

Included in our epic round-up of this year’s Halloween movies on TV, tonight’s two classics feature some of our favorite performers in roles you might have missed–but should be sure to catch as they air back-to-back.  And if tonight happens to be Date Night at your house, you might choose to stay in and snuggle up on the couch, because these two films also feature some of our favorite on-screen romances.

Portrait of Jennie original movie poster   Ghost and Mrs Muir original movie poster

First up at 7:00 p.m. Central is 1948’s Portrait of Jennie, starring Joseph Cotten (Citizen Kane, Shadow of a Doubt) and Jennifer Jones (Song of Bernadette, Duel in the Sun), with a masterful performance by Ethel Barrymore.  Cotten and Jones play star-crossed lovers whose sweet romance bridges time, death, and logic.  Cotten plays Eben Adams, a down-on-his-luck artist in the Depression, whose life is changed forever when he meets a young girl in Central Park.  The mysterious and beguiling Jennie becomes his muse, infusing his artwork with passion and talent.  But who is she?  Jennie has a secret, and her haunting story will consume Eben, until both lovers are driven to extremes in their quest to be together.

If you’re already a fan of the film, you’ll enjoy TCM’s write-up about it here–but it’s full of spoilers, so wait until you’ve seen it.  Based on the novel by Robert Nathan, Portrait of Jennie, with its haunting heroine and epic romance, could easily have been dark and gothic, but it’s actually anything but.  There’s just enough ghostly mystery to keep the Halloween thrill alive, but the overall tone is more sweet than scary.  In fact, this supernatural romance even made our Best Fantasy list.  It’s a must-see.

Portrait of Jennie B

Here is the original trailer for Portrait of Jennie:

Next up in TCM’s double feature, at 8:45 p.m. Central, is 1947’s The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, starring Rex Harrison (Doctor Doolittle, My Fair Lady), Gene Tierney (Laura, The Razor’s Edge), and Natalie Wood (Miracle on 34th Street).  Tierney plays a widowed mother who rents a house whose previous tenant, the ghost of a blustery pirate, refuses to leave–or leave her be.  It’s a classic romantic comedy setup, with a fun ghostly bent, and the twists and turns of their relationship makes for delightful viewing, as it evolves from aggravation to affection, and beyond.

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Harrison is a marvelous ghost, filling up the screen with his booming presence; and Tierney’s calm unflappability in the face of his bluster makes her the perfect foil.  Co-star George Sanders (Rebecca, The Jungle Book) complicates this already-impossible partnership.  TCM gives behind-the-scenes details here, and here is a trailer, of sorts:

Stick around after The Ghost and Mrs. Muir for Pandora and the Flying Dutchman.  And be sure to check out TCM’s whole lineup of Ghost Story Thursdays, arranged by themes such as “Gothic Ghosts,” “Haunted Houses,” and “Unfinished Business.”  You know we will; I’m looking forward to some undiscovered spooky gems!

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