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Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Innocents (1961)

An inexperienced governess (Deborah Kerr) is given the undertaking of caring for two fatherless children (Pamela Franklin, Martin Stephens) at a secluded country manor because their guardian and Uncle (Michael Redgrave) has no time for them in his busy life. But when the governess begins hearing and seeing things, she discovers the house and children harbor dark and horrible secrets. Based on the novella by Henry James with a screenplay by Truman Capote and William Archibald, this is how you adapt a classic book for the screen! Impeccably directed by Jack Clayton (ROOM AT THE TOP) and superbly shot by the great Freddie Francis, this is a ghost story for grown ups. Clayton isn't interested in giving us "Boo!" moments but in providing a richly dense atmosphere of spectral ambiguity. Is the governess attempting to purge her charges of the evil and corruption taught by a former valet (Peter Wyngarde) and his mistress (Clytie Jessop), both now deceased but reaching out to the children from beyond the grave? Or is she a sexually repressed spinster whose hysteria is the corruptive influence on innocent children? One thing is for certain ... this is Deborah Kerr's greatest performance and Clayton gets uncanny performances by from the talented children. With Megs Jenkins.

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