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.
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
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.