|THE INNOCENCE (director: Jack Clayton; screenwriters: William Archibald/Truman Capote/based on the story, "The Turn of the Screw," by Henry James; cinematographer: Freddie Francis; editor: James Clark; music: Georges Auric; cast: Deborah Kerr (Miss Giddens), Peter Wyngarde (Peter Quint), Megs Jenkins (Mrs. Grose), Michael Redgrave (The Uncle), Martin Stephens (Miles), Pamela Franklin (Flora), Clytie Jessop (Miss Jessel), Isla Cameron (Anna); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jack Clayton; 20th Century-Fox; 1961-UK)|
|"This classic ghost tale is based
on Henry James' 1898 novella, The
Turn of the Screw."
by Dennis Schwartz
This classic ghost tale is based on Henry James' 1898 novella, The Turn of the Screw, one of the great ghost stories in literature. Though filmed many times before, this one directed by Jack Clayton ("The Room At The Top"/"The Pumpkin Eater"/"The Great Gatsby") and written with a modern-day Freudian edge by William Archibald and Truman Capote is considered the most elegant and scariest.
Giddens (Deborah Kerr), a
minister's daughter, is hired by
the master of Bly House to be the governess to
his adorable niece Flora (Pamela Franklin) and
his angelic appearing nephew Miles (Martin
Stephens). Both are orphans. Mrs.
Grose (Megs Jenkins) is the
soon learn that Miles is expelled from school for
being a corrupting influence on the other students.
Miss Giddens reports seeing a man and a woman on the
grounds, Mrs. Grose is horrified to identify both
parties from the governess's description as former
servant lovers: the manager valet Quint (Peter
Wyngarde) and the governess Miss Jessel (Clytie
Jessop). The problem is that both are deceased.
The former workers were rumored to have been perverted
influences on the children, and Miss Giddens believes
they have returned as ghosts to take possession of the
children. The governess is determined to prevent this
abduction, and fights them even if she has no proof
Its well-staged ambiguous ending leaves us wrestling with uncertainty if the scenario is merely the active imagination of a virgin governess or if it's really happening. The cleverly written script by Archibald and Capote, the excellent direction by Clayton, the chilling photography by Freddy Francis and Kerr's superb performance, make this one of the more intelligent ghost story films.
REVIEWED ON 10/29/2014 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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