I've always like Hayley Mills movies. "Pollyanna" was achingly sweet, and "The Parent Trap" was corny but delightful. However, I believe her performance in "The Chalk Garden" is her best. This well-crafted film deals with the relationship between a young girl, played by Hayley Mills, living with her grandmother and the new nanny, played by Deborah Kerr, hired to care for her. The young girl is a pyromaniac who compulsively manipulates and lies, perhaps as her way of handling what she feels is a loveless existence. Kerr's character, who has a dark secret, is able to identify with the young girl, and the movie follows her attempts to win the girl's friendship and eventual trust and to teach the girl that there is still love in her life.
This is a moving film which deals seriously with its themes. It is a little melodramatic in a 1960's sort of way, but nonetheless remains quite involving and absorbing for the audience. I enjoyed it very much. Interestingly, John Mills (Hayley's father) also has a supporting role in this film as the butler and is quite good in his capacity. Overall, a high 5 stars recommendation for the whole family!