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TOP 500 REVIEWERon June 15, 2006
Maggie Smith won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Jean Brodie, an unconventional and outspoken teacher in a stuffy Edinburgh girls' school who encourages her students to be just like herself. Miss Brodie proclaims she is "in her prime," but is, in reality, a spinster, still sadly attracted to her unscrupulous ex-lover and often living in the past.

Smith was so young and beautiful when she made this movie. She dominates the screen with her charisma and power.Pamela Franklin is excellent as one of Jean's disciples, and Rod McKuen's music is lovely. This film is a must for fans of Maggie Smith.
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on April 23, 2004
This film is an excellent psychological study of a spinister schoolteacher and the four girls who comprise the "Brodie set." Maggie Smith beautifully portrays the egocentrical and deluded Jean Brodie, who insists throughout the film that she is "in her prime," thereby excusing her from taking accountability for her actions. But you don't dislike Miss Brodie; in fact, the viewer simultaneously pities her and admires her. Maggie Smith brings a great deal of humanity to the role; we see both her grasp for control and her struggle with her weaknesses. Smith certainly deserved the 1969 Oscar for Best Actress.
Pamela Franklin is captivating in the role of self-righteous Sandy, the only girl in the Brodie set who appears to have any genuine intellect. Her gradual maturity throughout the film is quite credible, and I especially liked the scene near the beginning of the film where Sandy and Jenny discuss their views on sex. Both funny and sad. (However, I was a bit shocked by Sandy's nude scene. This film should have a PG-13 rating.)
The movie was filmed on location in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, and the outdoor scenes compliment Miss Brodie's lectures and opinions beautifully. A good, literary film that examines both the complexities about being a woman and what it means to be a teacher. I also highly recommend the novel by Muriel Spark.
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on August 28, 2013
In the early 70s while on a holiday in Victoria, we saw part of The Prime. I always wondered how it turned out. The recent viewing finds me at a very different phase of life and the movie is probably more meaningful now than it would have been when I was 25. How does a person deal with aging? How does a person gain self-worth and what if you change your mind late in the game? Is romantic love or family the only thing that can carry us through the final years of our decreasing vitality and the anticipation of the end of life as we have known it? As usual the people in this film always think maybe conditions on the other side of the fence might be just the ones needed for a transition to the acceptance of the inevitable, mortality.

A viewer can skip all the psych and just watch the film for the story itself, and of course for Maggie Smith, young and even more energetic than she is now. With a bit of guidance a person could even learn a bit of history on a time that has now become fairly unmentioned except maybe in english class when the teacher is trying to explain Hemingway, the Lost Generation, or wars before the big 2.
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on July 9, 2004
This has always been a favorite film of mine and now that is it
on DVD we have a letterboxed version. From the opening shots we
know we are in for a real treat. Maggie was just starting out in
the movies when she snared this role. Fox wanted Audrey Hepburn
or Deborah Kerr but Maggie made the role her own. She is not
alone. Celia Johnson as headmistress Miss Mackay is fabulous and
Gordon Jackson who later achieved world fame as Hudson in
UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS is a superb Gordie Lowther. Smith and Johnson
both won British Academy Awards and a few weeks later Maggie was
an upset winner at the Oscars and there was hooting and hollering
and mass celebrations at our house. I am delighted that Fox has
put this on DVD.
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on July 6, 2004
Maggie Smith is the elegantly pert Miss Brodie, a 1930s Edinburgh school marm of immense panache, charm and wit in a film that's sort of a cross between a female version of "Goodbye Mr. Chips" and "To Sir With Love." Smith's performance easily commands "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" beyond cliche and its theatrical trappings as she becomes the ultimate self-deluding spinster to whom Mussolini is a treasure on par with the Mona Lisa, and passionate love is but a taboo. Dame Brodie marks her existance on over-inflated romantic notions about art and beauty. Adapting from the novel by Muriel Spark, director Robert Neame keeps the pacing sweet and nimble, touching on all the right points without dwelling on any of them. Also in the cast are real-life husband, Robert Stephens as Jean's married lover and Celia Johnson who is marvelously insideous as the hostile headmistress. The film score by Rod McKuen may have been Oscar nominated but it betrays its 60s origins and really pigeon-holes the film as a production of that decade instead of seeming a vital tableau of the 30s.
THE TRANSFER: Fox has done a marvelous job remastering "Miss Brodie" on DVD. Colors are lush and nicely balanced. Black levels are deep and solid. Contrast and shadow levels are bang on. Some of the long shots suffer from pixelization which breaks up fine detail and there is also a very small trace of age related artifacts. These do not necessarily distract. The audio is stereo. Though dialogue does not sound natural it is nevertheless very clearly presented. The score - in all it's twinkle-twinkle get down of 60s flashback is amply displayed.
EXTRAS: An audio commentary and very sparce stills gallery. It really is a mystery to me why Fox's continues to benchmark certain catalogue titles as part of their Studio Series when their attention to suppliments continues to grow more scant by every release. Just call this a general release and be done with it. There's nothing special apart from the film to recommend such titles as part of a special series.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended.
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on February 3, 2013
My wife had the mistaken idea that Jean Brodie was an exemplar of independent womanhood. Instead, she (Jean Brodie, not my wife) turns out to have misunderstood the world around her and her own place in it.

Nevertheless, the movie captures something of the era that it's set in, and Maggie Smith suits the role.
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on July 18, 2004
What do you get when you cross great writing, a great story, an excellent cast, and one of the world's greatest actresses? This film. It's certainly one of the most unusual films ever made, and especially when you consider WHEN it was made. I didn't see the initial release many years ago, but can only imagine what the American public made of a teenage girl in a married, much older, man's bed. Maggie Smith carries the film and her reputation on this one alone should seal her claim to best actress in the world. It doesn't get any better than this.
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on February 25, 2004
I know how thoroughly ridiculous it is for me to feel like I'm the first person who's ever discovered Maggie Smith, but when you see a miracle you just want to think it's yours. And that's what Smith is in this film--a white hot, shimmering miracle. It is entirely believable that Jean Brodie attracts followers as fiercely devoted to her as Il Duce's are to him. Watching this film for the first time the other night, I wanted to follow Jean Brodie too. Therein lies the classic power of this film: Jean Brodie, thirty-five years later, is still "not good for people."
Smith's performance sizzled in every scene. She alternated from being pinched and controlled to fluid and dark as Jean's facade evaporated to expose the layers underneath. It was virtuosic. The full range of human emotion was all over this performance. Smith hit every emotional pitch perfectly, managing at all times to portray the kind of teacher for whom the pre-adolescent crush was invented. Smith totally owned this film. It was stunning, and it was seductive.
The other performances were good, too. All of them. So good that I'm not entirely convinced the script deserved them. The script has its moments, and it's riddled with classically funny one-liners ("She means to intimidate me by the use of quarter hours."). But even for a different era, some of the language just seems too gosh darn decorative. Sometimes the dialogue's sweeping extravagance fits the character beautifully ("Give me a girl at an impressionable age . . .") but at other times it just doesn't seem to fit at all.
Style aside, the ending is predictable. Poor Jean! Not only does she get spanked badly for being the charismatic force of nature that she is, we are taught that it is an entirely good and righteous thing that she should suffer. Smith convinces us to feel sorry for Jean, but that's the most she can do. We can't have any moral ambiguity, because Jean is dictator. Dictators are always seductive, they are always immoral, and they are never good for people. I don't like the lack of moral ambiguity at the end, but there would be no way to change it without killing the theme, which is that dictators must be taken down.
Despite the heavy-handedness, this was a daring film. That comes across clearly. At least one of the scenes might even raise a few eyebrows today. I'm very glad I watched this, and although I almost never watch movies twice, I'll probably watch this one again.
And I will certainly never look at Maggie Smith the same way again. Before, when she graced the big screen with one of her crushingly hilarious small parts, I'd just join the rest of the audience in whispering its collective "yay!" It's going to be different now. I'm going to feel more wistful. I'm going to be wishing . . . I don't know what, exactly. Maybe that I didn't post-date Smith's "prime" movie acting by quite so many years. Or maybe that there were more lead roles for her today.
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on March 24, 2004
We went to a sneak preview one night and that was when they did
not tell you what it was. We had seen the play so when they
told us it was THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE we hooted and hollered.And from the opening scene we knew it was a a real treat.
I was sad that the movie came out early in the year because those
movies are usually ignored at Oscar time but this time they remembered Maggie Smith who won her first award. Equally good
is Celia Johnson as the headmistress who personifies conservative
education. She nearly steals the whole thing from Maggie. The
Brits gave her and Maggie their Oscar equivalent. Gordon Jackson
who later achieved wide fame as Hudson on UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS
is delightful. Jane Carr who played Mary McGregor later appeared
on NBC sitcoms. Over the years this has been a favorite movie
of mine and I hope the dvd will be letterboxed. It certainly should be. This will be a most welcome additon to my dvd library
and hopefully many other fans.
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on April 20, 2004
Maggie Smith is always at the top of her form, witty, ironic, twitchy, brilliant - and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is one of her very best roles. Hollywood thought so, too: she won an Oscar for her performance, playing a spinster school teacher in the 30s in Edinburgh. So enamored is she of art, literature, and beauty that she neglects to acknowledge the rising fascism in the real world. Miss Brodie, in her self-proclaimed prime, has her little pet pupils, girls she intends to inspire; she also involves them in the machinations of her meetings with an art teacher, her married lover (and real-life husband). For sheer snobbery, Miss Brodie's outlook cannot be topped. There's a denouement, a comeuppance, that is heartbreaking for more than one of the characters. If ever there were an example of the moral Pride goeth before the fall, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is it.
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