Set in Victorian England, Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) is a vibrant young woman; in order to earn a living as a governess she is forced by circumstance to suppress her thoughts and emotions. She arrives at a bleak country estate to take care of two wealthy orphans, Flora (Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stephens), in the guardianship of their charming Uncle (Michael Redgrave). Outwardly the children appear angelic little darlings, but the governess gradually begins to feel that there’s something more sinister to her charges.
When describing the apparitions she has been seeing and her fears for the children to the housekeeper (Meg Jenkins), she is told that the ethereal descriptions resemble those of the estate’s dead valet Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde), and previous governess Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop) – who were engaged in a sadomasochistic relationship together. When Miss Giddens allows herself to believe the malevolent spirits are beginning to possess the young children in her charge, it pushes her already fragile mind closer to the edge. Is it hysteria caused by repressed passions, or is it a true case of possession? Miss Giddens sets out to exorcise the malevolent spirits with tragic results. —Britmovie.co.uk
Jack Clayton (1 March 1921 – 26 February 1995) was a British film director who specialised in bringing literary works to the screen.
A native of East Sussex, Clayton started his career as a child actor on the 1929 film Dark Red Roses. He later worked for Alexander Korda’s Denham Film Studios and rose from tea boy to assistant director to film editor.
While in service with the Royal Air Force during World War II, Clayton shot his first film, the documentary Naples is a Battlefield (1944), representing the problems in the reconstruction of Naples, the first great city liberated in World War II, ruined after Allied bombing and destruction caused by the retreating Nazis. After the war Clayton became an associate producer on many of Korda’s films, then directed the Oscar-winning short The Bespoke Overcoat (1956) based on Wolf Mankowitz’s theatrical version (1953) of Nikolai Gogol’s short story The Overcoat (1842). In this film Gogol’s story is re-located to a clothing warehouse… read more
Rarely has a story translated from the written word to film so well, (it's one of my favorite books). Kerr is magnificent, as are the children. The chills are well-earned, without the requisite bloodshed and gimmicks we see today (think "Sinister" for one). The sight of Quint staring through the window, and Miss Jessel weeping in the pond scared the hell out of me as kid, and still does today. Bravo!
A classic. Gets a little delirious towards the finale (as does The Shining, which was clearing paying homage to many of the scenes here) but the camera work and the candle-lit black and white are beautiful. Also flirts with some taboo subject matter. Highlights of creepiness include: the woman in the reeds, the silhouette at the end of the hallway, and the voices encircling Kerr when she gets lost in the house.
A carnival of evil comes to town in this Ray Bradbury adaptation from British director Jack Clayton.