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The Innocents (1961)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 16,027 users  
Reviews: 188 user | 138 critic

A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.

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(novel), (additional scenes & dialogue), 2 more credits »
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Title: The Innocents (1961)

The Innocents (1961) on IMDb 7.9/10

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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Megs Jenkins ...
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Martin Stephens ...
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Clytie Jessop ...
Isla Cameron ...
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Storyline

In Victorian England, the uncle of orphaned niece Flora and nephew Miles hires Miss Giddens as governess to raise the children at his estate with total independence and authority. Soon after her arrival, Miss Giddens comes to believe that the spirits of the former governess Miss Jessel and valet Peter Quint are possessing the children. Miss Giddens decides to help the children to face and exorcise the spirits. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A strange new experience in shock. See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

19 February 1962 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

The Turn of the Screw  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Deborah Kerr always regarded this as her finest performance. See more »

Goofs

During Miss Gidden's interview with The Uncle, a clock can be heard striking the Westminster Chimes half hour. The Uncle goes to a mantel clock checking his watch. The mantel clock shows 10 past 11:00. The Uncle touches the clock dial, but does not correct the time. See more »

Quotes

Miles: What shall I sing to my lord from my window? What shall I sing for my lord will not stay? What shall I sing for my lord will not listen? Where shall I go when my lord is away? Whom shall I love when the moon is arisen? Gone is my lord and the grave is his prison. What shall I say when my lord comes a calling? What shall I say when he knocks on my door? What shall I say when his feet enter softly? Leaving the marks of his grave on my floor. Enter my lord. Come from your prison. Come from your ...
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Crazy Credits

The film begins with a totally black screen and the sound of Flora singing for several seconds; then the 20th Century Fox logo fades in and out. The singing continues for a few seconds before the opening credits begin. As the credits display, we see an anguished Miss Giddens praying on the left side of the screen. Her actions are not explained until the film's climax. See more »


Soundtracks

O Willow Waly
Music by Georges Auric
Lyrics by Paul Dehn
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Ghost story or psychological study? Who can say?
4 July 2004 | by (Los Angeles, Ca.) – See all my reviews

"The Innocents" is one of those films that prove subtlety and imagination can be ten times more terrifying than loud noises or things that go bump in the night. There are no raging spirits or escaped madmen here. Nor will you find that stock of today's second rate horror films -- the creature that embodies evil and finds amazingly obscure ways in which to slaughter naughty teenagers. No, this movie scars one's psyche with darkness and silence and possibility, all mingled with its refusal to give the audience an easy answer at the end.

Based on Henry James' novella, "The Turn Of The Screw," the story is deceptively simple. An inexperienced governess is hired to care for two orphaned children in an isolated British manor and slowly comes to believe the ghosts of the previous governess and her brutish lover are trying to possess the children's souls. Being a decent woman "who loves children," she fights back the only way she can -- by confronting the evil head on. But the question is, does the evil truly exist...or is it all in her own mind?

As told by James, the novella is a startling ghost story, without question. He adds his usual psychological insights to the characters, but never do you doubt the ghosts exist. The defining moment comes when Miss Giddens sees Quint's face in a dark window then later finds a locket bearing his portrait and comes to her realization, "Oh, he's a ghost!" But in the movie, Truman Capote and William Archibald reverse this sequence -- she finds the locket first and THEN sees the man's face in the window -- and all simple explanations go out the door.

Is Miss Giddens imagining things? Has she become overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising two precocious children without any sort of support from their selfish uncle? Is she merely sexually repressed and immature enough to transfer her crush on the uncle to a boy not even into puberty yet? And what of Flora, Miles' sister? If this is merely sexual repression on Miss Giddens' part, then why does she drag a little girl into the morass? Throughout the film, Miss Giddens offers evidence of her concerns -- a letter received from Miles' schoolmaster that she cannot fully share with Mrs. Grose because the woman cannot read; her awareness that the two innocents in her charge have a far more advanced knowledge of life than children that age normally would; stories told by Mrs. Grose about Miss Jessel and Quint and how they treated the children. So could it be the spirits of two miserable adults have come back to reclaim life in the persons of Miles and Flora? It could go either way.

There is not one wrong moment in this movie. Not one. The first time I saw it was in New York City on a double bill with "The Haunting" (1963), a "things that go bump in the night" kind of movie. The audience and I howled through that one, it was so much silly fun. And we chuckled through the first ten minutes of "The Innocents" (especially when Mrs. Grose tells Miss Giddens, "I'm SO glad you're here," with a little quiver in her voice), but by the end of that film (and I use the word "film" deliberately), the entire theater was dead silent. Any film that can shut up a room full of rowdy New Yorkers has got to be damned good.

So...is "The Innocents" a ghost story or psychological study? Who can say? And to be honest, who cares? It is, at the very least, a damned good movie...and at the very best, a horror story that makes "The Shining," "Rosemary's Baby," "The Others" and even "Psycho" (a movie I love) look like the works of children. That this film is not available on DVD is a travesty.


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Hmmm, maybe the kids are more evil than you thought xstrguy
This is one of those movies... geekeh
On Second viewing not a ghost story at all... nutritionist
Others like this? writejulia
Quite unbearable gypsyola
Three interpretations... Lu_tz
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