Barbara Vining is 17 years old and living with her family in a 1950s postwar English village. Her father, Henry, is a newspaper journalist and mother, Vi, a homemaker; her maiden aunt, ...
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Barbara Vining is 17 years old and living with her family in a 1950s postwar English village. Her father, Henry, is a newspaper journalist and mother, Vi, a homemaker; her maiden aunt, Evelyn also lives in their home. Barbara attends a coeducational comprehensive school. And, for the first time in her life, Barbara is in love. The object of her affection is a sensitive and handsome gentleman, Stephen Barlow, who teaches Latin to the graduating class at her school. Barlow is an Englishman, married to a beautiful, but very insecure and lonely American lady, Kay. Barbara disappears after a tutoring session at the Barlow home and is "in absentia" for three days. During that time, Barlow is asked to resign and nearly cautioned by the police, as rumors have run amok throughout the village. Many people, including his wife, are uncertain regarding what to think. Was it simply a case of unrequited love or did Stephen Barlow have a torrid affair with young Barbara? Is she dead by her own hand, ... Written by
Leo Genn plays a teacher at a British school. He does not realize that one of his students (Glynnis Johns) is infatuated with him, though his wife (Gene Tierney) quickly picks up on this. When the wife confronts the student about this, the teen leaves in tears--and isn't heard from for some time! Considering that the teacher followed her and talked with her, he was the last to see her and the assumptions are that she either killed herself or he killed her. Regardless, people in the town begin to assume he was responsible. I won't say what happens next, as this would spoil the film, though IMDb DOES give away the girl's whereabouts on the main page for the film! Oops.
This movie gives the viewer quite a bit to consider. First, the male teacher clearly was irresponsible being alone with a student--particularly a female one. As a retired teacher, I knew NEVER to put myself in such a situation for exactly the reasons you see in the film. I would venture that at least subconsciously the teacher was flattered by the crush--which is pretty disturbing since it resulted in his not taking reasonable precautions. Second, the wife clearly read the script, as when she meets the teen, she IMMEDIATELY knows he has a crush on the teacher--but how did her character know this?! This is an apparent weakness in the script and she is clearly the weakest written character in the movie. Third, it's a nice portrait of what happens when hysteria and the court of public opinion run amok--snowballing to insane conclusions. Fourth, it leaves you wondering why they picked a 30 year-old woman (Johns) to play a 17 year-old! Oops.
You'll notice that a couple things I mentioned above are problems with the film. Well, despite these minor concerns the rest of the film is pretty good--and thought-provoking...and well worth seeing.
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