April 16th, 2014

THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947) ** ½

Mrs. Muir (Gene Tierney) is a widow who takes her daughter and housekeeper to live in an old house by the sea. The place is haunted by the ghost of a crusty captain (Rex Harrison), who tries to scare Mrs. Muir off the property. He soon learns that she doesn’t scare easily and he eventually allows her to stay, provided she helps him pen his memoirs. (Does that make him a ghost writer?) When Mrs. Muir turns her manuscript in to the publisher, she meets a dapper author (George Sanders) and winds up falling for him. Does the old captain have a ghost of a chance to steal her heart?

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is an amiable comedy/drama that is pretty much ruined by some herky-jerky storytelling and an extremely disjointed third act. The scenes between Tierney and Sanders run on too long, and the flash-forwards to Tierney as an old woman are pretty clunky. Had these scenes been trimmed back a bit, I feel the ending (which works up to a point) would’ve had much more of an impact.

Tierney is excellent as Mrs. Muir and she is quite sexy while dressed up all in black too. And while Harrison has a tendency to chew the scenery a bit, he still remains fun to watch. The chemistry between the two keeps The Ghost and Mrs. Muir afloat, even when it hits choppy waters.

OUT OF THE FURNACE (2013) *** ½

Thanks to Out of the Furnace we finally get to see who would win in a fight between two world renowned screen psychos. That’s right; it’s Patrick Bateman versus Mickey Knox in a white trash duel to the death. This is the kind of shit that lights my movie-watching fire.

Christian Bale stars as a mill worker who gets out of prison and learns that his brother (Casey Affleck) is fighting in an illegal underground boxing circuit. His backer (Willem Dafoe) is in deep to a hillbilly kingpin (Woody Harrelson) who offs them both. Since Bale has nothing to lose (his girlfriend left him and got pregnant, his father died while he was in prison, etc.), it’s time to grab the old hunting rifle and get some white trash justice.

In short, Out of the Furnace is the best Hillbilly Vendetta Movie since Next of Kin.

When you have a cast that includes Bale, Dafoe, and Harrelson, you just know there’s gonna be some great acting. And all three of those guys excel at playing down-on-their-luck scrappy dudes with a penchant for violence. When Bale and Harrelson finally lock horns, it’s pretty badass. And I really loved Dafoe’s work as the loan shark with a heart of gold.

The flick is a bit guilty of being a Depress-O-Thon though. It really puts its characters (and audience for that matter) through the ringer and the result isn’t a very “fun” movie. Out of the Furnace is, however, gripping entertainment and if you’re a fan of anyone in the cast, you will definitely get your money’s worth.