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The Innocents

Deborah Kerr , Peter Wyngarde , Jack Clayton    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 16.98
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The Innocents + The Other (L'autre) (Bilingual) + The Changeling (Widescreen)
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Product Description

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The definitive screen adaptation of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw, the 1961 production of The Innocents remains one of the most effective ghost stories ever filmed. Originally promoted as the first truly "adult" chiller of the big screen (a marginally valid claim considering the release of Psycho a year earlier), the film arrived at a time when the thematic depth of James's story could finally be addressed without the compromise of reductive discretion. And while the Freudian anxiety that fuels the story may seem tame by today's standards, the psychological horrors that comprise the story's "dark secret" are given full expression in a film that brilliantly clouds the boundary between tragic reality and frightful imagination.

In one of her finest performances, Deborah Kerr stars as Miss Giddons, a devout and somewhat repressed spinster who happily accepts the position of governess for two orphaned children whose uncle (Michael Redgrave) readily admits to having no interest in being tied down by two "brats." So Miss Giddons is dispatched to Bly House, the lavish, shadowy estate where young Flora (Pamela Franklin) and her brother Miles (Martin Stephens, so memorable in 1960's Village of the Damned) live with a good-natured housekeeper (Megs Jenkins). At first, life at Bly House seems splendidly idyllic, but as Miss Giddons learns the horrible truth about the estate's now-deceased groundskeeper and previous governess, she begins to suspect that her young charges are ensnared in a devious plot from beyond the grave.

Ghostly images are revealed in only the most fleeting glimpses, and the outstanding Cinemascope photography by Freddie Francis (who used special filters to subtly darken the edges of the screen) turns Bly House into a welcoming mansion by day, a maze of mystery and terror by night. Sound effects and music are used to bone-chilling effect, and director Jack Clayton, blessed with a script by William Archibald and Truman Capote, maintains a deliberate pace to emphasize the ambiguity of James's timeless novella. The result is a masterful film--comparable to the 1963 classic The Haunting--that uses subtlety and suggestion to reach the pinnacle of fear. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

Deborah Kerr stars in this "horrifying Gothic ghost tale" (Newsweek) based on Henry James' "The Turn Of The Screw,' a powerful psychological drama about innocence possessed by evil. Shortly after coming to live with orphans Flora and Miles in their dark, eerie mansion, the new governess (Kerr) mistakes their strange behavior for preciousness. But she soon comes to believe that the charming, beautiful children are possessed by evil, malicious spirits - the souls of their previous governess and estate manager who are now dead. With its shocking conclusion and sinister cinematic effects. The Innocents "catches an eerie, spine-chilling mood right from the start" (Variety) that never lets up.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top 5 Ghosty Films July 25 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This adaptation of Henry James's "Turning of the Screw" never fails to scare my socks off. I have many favourite moments in this film, but I'm not going to tell you about them. You'll just have to watch it for yourself. If you're brave enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
Without doubt, this is the definitive version of Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw." The acting of Deborah Kerr as the governess is superb, as are the performances of the actors playing the two posessed children. Filmed in atmospheric black-and-white, this is one film that deserves the full DVD treatment. My only reservation is with the title. While appropriate, it should have retained the title as given by Mr. James. Five stars!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STILL SCARES AFTER MORE THAN FORTY YEARS!!! May 1 2004
Format:VHS Tape
The Innocents, featuring an excellent performance by Deborah Kerr, is a perfect example of why less can be so much more when watching a psychological thriller. Even after forty years this masterpiece still delivers the thrills and scares. The Innocents not only makes the viewer think, but it provides many jolts which will keep any seasoned horror/suspense buff on his or her toes. This film is definitely worth seeking out, although, unfortunately, it has yet to appear on DVD.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Henry James, as he intended... April 29 2004
Format:VHS Tape
After "The Ininvited" (1944), this has to be the best ghost story ever. It may have been "bested" by Robert Wise's "The Haunting" (1963), but there's no excuse for this brilliant film NOT to be offered on DVD. The very classy, very wonderful Deborah Kerr has never been better. Anyone else out there craving a DVD of this exceptional film...?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very scary April 3 2004
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This film is very scary. I once watched it when i was very young and i couldn't sleep for years!!!
I watched it recently and it was very good.
Highly recommendable!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mother May I? Jan. 21 2004
Format:VHS Tape
(...)It would be wrong to contribute this film to a long list of ghost stories per se, for these ghosts as we perceive them, are far removed from the 'boo' variety that so many of us are aware of. Rather, perceptions that slip over the edge of the abyss and into the realm of the psychological variety deepen with each frame that the film presents.
Giddens is our guide into the unknown and it is through her eyes that we begin to see this as more than just another ghost story. Rather it is the door into Victorian society and the social caste system that was readily used. Levels were to be maintained and one was never to stray from their station in life. Is Giddens a reliable storyteller, or are we living through the frustrations of her own life and how she intends to project herself onto the rest of the world around her? Would we tend to call this tale a ghost story or would we see it for what it truly is -- one of a repressed and irrational person who has created this entire story to make up for her own sense of personal and professional failure in her life?
Sex, as we are well aware, was a taboo subject in the Victorian era. Are we witnessing the sexual meltdown of the spinster governess, Miss Giddens, or, are we a party to a real ghost story? The Innocents turns the screw on the viewer and thrusts the choice into our minds. We see what we want to see and perceive it as thus.
Performances by Deborah Kerr and Martin Stephens are chilling. Her nervous, wanting to please governess and Stephens' Stepford/Village of The Damned child lob off each other as they draw us ever closer to a masterful denouement. They have equally created a sense of evil that allows us to see the horror of the situation from within the story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Gothic Ghost Story, perfectly told Jan. 14 2004
Format:VHS Tape
I saw this movie for the first time on cable last week; I was about to go to bed when I caught this from the halfway point, right when Deborah Kerr as the Governess, is playing hide and seek with the children and sees through a window, the ghost of Peter Quint. Beginning as a silhoette, he slowly glides into the reflected light from inside and fixes her with his dead stare. Then he glides away again, with only the light in his dead eyes shining in the darkness. It literally sent chills up my spine and made my eyes water! And I bow to any movie that can do that! I was completely transfixed from that point on and stayed up until the very end. You know a good movie when you're sad that it's over, and I was. I wanted it to go on and on! I think I would have watched it til dawn if it had lasted that long. Rare is a movie this affecting and atmospheric. It was literally a sensual pleasure, albeit a tension filled one--to take it in!
All of the ghost sightings are handled in a powerfully surreal way. The sight of Miss Jessel's ghost on a distant bank is inexplicably terrifying, maybe because her blank stillness is so incongruous with what we're used to in this genre, which usually depicts ghosts as being in various stages of raging histrionics. Somehow, the stillness of this one terrifies more. Her stillness creates an unbearable tension. You feel on the edge of your seat with the idea that she may suddenly look at you, or scream, explode somehow into violence, so that finally the very idea that she may move at all is unbearable, and it's a relief when the camera cuts away from her and she's off the screen. (Although as with any good suspense, you want it to come right back and scare you again!
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