Is Blithe Spirit (2020) a great movie or even a decent adaption of the Noël Coward play? Not really. But is it a gorgeously costumed and art-directed frothy excursion into the 1930s? Hells yeah. This is an Art Deco confection, top to bottom, from the very first scene to the last, so if that’s your jam, you will want to watch it and ogle all the pretty. I mean, 1930s isn’t even my jam but I was engrossed in the interior design of the main house that’s the setting of the story and all the wardrobe details of the main characters. Yeah, it’s that good.
Set in England 1937, the story begins with mystery writer Charles (Dan Stevens) suffering from writer’s block and being a jerk to everyone around him, especially his second wife, Ruth (Isla Fisher). He gets an idea to have a spiritualist, Madame Arcati (Judi Dench) performa a seance as inspiration for his writing. This accidentally conjures up the ghost of his first wife, Elvira (Leslie Mann).
But whatever, let’s just look at this gorgeous flick! Much of it was filmed at Joldwynds, a modernist-style home built in 1932 that had previously been used for several episodes of Poirot.
The interior is FILLED with drool-worthy period furniture.
OK, some minor costumes…
Even the extras / minor characters have smart ensembles:
Elvira is the real clothes-horse, even though she’s a ghost.
Another great costume and interior pairing:
At the garden party, all the ladies are in florals…
Do you love 1930s fashion or interior design? Will you give Blithe Spirit a whirl?
Dr Bradman is played by Julian Rind-Tutt, one of those actors who seems to pass beneath most people’s radar. Not mine. Loved him in ‘Banished’ and ‘Wipers Times’. He appears in a lot of period dramas in film (‘The Madness of King George’, ‘Les Miserables’) and on television (‘Britannia’, a couple of Agatha Christie’s episodes), but I think you would be hard pressed to find images of him.
He was hysterical in Green Wing.
And Black Books–everyone was drooling over him!
I completely forgot he was in Black Books! That episode is hilarious.
Am so-so on 1930’s but always enjoyed Poiret’s apartment building and the houses though comic and ghosts really not my thing…
Deco and Dench! What more could you ask for? Love them both.
Later Art Deco is my happy place. I grew up watching the Masterpiece Poirot adaptations with my mom. If I can find it streaming, I’d like this one.
Robert Bathurst is the (64 yr. old!!) British actor who played the “lame” Sir Anthony Strallan in ‘Downton Abbey’.
The suave “blond” gentleman, sitting in that particular picture, is (53 yr.) strawberry blond British actor Julian Rhind-Tutt. Who played Marquess of Blayne in (2017-2019) ‘Harlots’.
And who I hope: one day will be deserving of a ManCandyMonday, with 24 F.F. roles to his name.
From ‘The Madnes of King George’ (1994) to ‘Blandings’ (2013-2014) and everything in-between.
I fell for him as Dr. Macartney in sureal British hospital sketch-comedy-drama ‘Greenwings’ (2004-2007).
Anyone who didn’t love J R-T in Green Wing needs to give themselves a good talking-to.
This looks lush! The Art Deco period came to my attention in the film ‘Victor, Victoria’ with Julie Andrews back in 1982. Loved the sets of that one as well.
Yes to gorgeous clothes. Yes to a stunning home inside and out, but there was something . . . off about the production itself. Not, for lack of a better word, frothy enough. But if I consider it my Deco shopping list, oh heck yeah!
Frances it was terrible that’s why! ;-) I love Blithe Spirit the play even though it is pretty dated. I’ve seen two very different productions on stage, one in the West end where Hermione Norris played Ruth and Alison Steadman (the one true Mrs Bennett) played Madame Arcata. It isn’t anywhere near as camp as this film makes out and the characters, while hardly deep, have a lot more structure than the ones in the film.
It was like watching a frothy musical without music!
but i absolutely agree that is was a feast for the eyes.
I saw it with Joanna Lumley, Jane Asher and Simon Cadell. Superb and hilarious.
Sure. I saw Katy Kendall do it at the Golders Green Hippodrome, many moons ago and have always enjoyed it.
That’s Kay, not Katy!
There’s something weird about the hats and the hair but I will definitely watch this for the interiors.
I love that dramatic/sporty cape ensemble.
It looks gorgeous, but what is the point of rewriting Noel Coward? He did the script for the original Rex Harrison film, after all.
Also, setting it two years before the War and four years before it was written is just ridiculous. Coward was bombed out of his home, then the hotel he moved to while writing it. It’s deliberate fluff to raise morale, but it’s also very much about the concerns of its time – as in the 14-18 War, seances and contacting the dead were ideas much in vogue when people were losing so much so routinely.
And I love Dame Judi. But nobody can really replace the superb Maragaret Rutherford.
I’m just in my way home from a new production in London! Really well done – Jennifer Saunders excellent as Madam Arcati, and my fave Geoffrey Streatfeild as Charles. Coward is so easy to do badly.