The Chalk Garden (1964)

 |  Drama, Mystery  |  21 May 1964 (USA)
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A grandmother seeks a governess for her 16 year old granddaughter, Laurel, who manages to drive away each and every one so far by exposing their past, with a record of three in one week! ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (from the play by)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Felix Aylmer ...
Judge McWhirrey
Lally Bowers ...
Toke Townley ...
Shop Clerk
Tonie MacMillan ...
Mrs. Williams


A grandmother seeks a governess for her 16 year old granddaughter, Laurel, who manages to drive away each and every one so far by exposing their past, with a record of three in one week! When an applicant with a mysterious past manages to get the job, Laurel vows to expose her. Meanwhile, Laurel's married-divorced-married mother tries to get her back. Written by Nasser <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A GIRL on the verge of womanhood...A WOMAN on the edge of loneliness...BOTH suspicious of affection yet starved for love! See more »


Drama | Mystery


See all certifications »





Release Date:

21 May 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Corazones heridos  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director Ronald Neame found Hayley Mills to be "... too kittenish; she should have been far more dangerous. I also hated the music. The play is filled with epigrams. Every time one was uttered that crashing music would swell up." See more »


As Maitland and Miss Madrigal leave the village shop the view through the car's rear window shows them go round a corner and then straighten, however Maitland does not move the car's steering wheel. See more »


Judge: Alcohol in the middle of the day is exciting when one is 30, but disastrous when one is 70.
See more »


Referenced in What's My Line?: Episode dated 22 March 1964 (1964) See more »

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User Reviews

As seen through a child's eyes.
18 February 2003 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

I saw this film during its first television broadcast in the New York area (in 1965?). I was seven or eight. The TV Guide called "The Chalk Garden" a drama, and although I could never watch a drama, my attention span locked when the camera left a civilized sitting room to catch the teenage Hayley yelping around a bonfire. She lived on a cliff over the ocean (a nice place) with her grandmother, who was indulgent enough to allow this one-girl "lord of the flies" to do whatever she desired. Meanwhile, the grandmother suspiciously interviewed nannies to serve the child, and if the grandmother didn't scare them off, then one glimpse at the girl feeding wood to the flames did. The grandmother thought highly of Laurel, as Hayley was called, and said such primal outbursts were proof of a gifted artistic temperament. I agreed. I am sure my grandmother would have said the same about me. The weak-willed nannies ran. The nanny that got the job was the one that carried herself with the most detachment and negative expectation. While the script circled around Hayley, the director surrounded her with high powered actors believably concerned for her future. Her father played the butler. Deborah Kerr played her new nanny. Laurel dispatched prior nannies by uncovering and revealing indiscretions of their past. This game in no way prepares her for the nanny who served time for a murder committed during her unhindered wonder years. When Laurel discovers the secret, she has befriended her nanny and no longer wants to hurt her. The murder details remain a murky part of the story, although the grandmother intends to spend the rest of her life finding out the truth. The message, however, is clear: children need hindrances. It lets them know people care about them. It keeps them out of trouble. Looking at the film recently, I saw a child treated like a child, even by the musical accompaniment. As a child I was with Hayley Mills. I didn't want her to be claimed by her flaky mother against her grandmother's wishes. The grandmother is left with the Nanny and the Butler to help her deal with the challenge of raising garden plants in chalky soil by the sea. In addition, the film suggests that the divorced mother will remarry, and I went to bed and took the movie from there. Hayley Mills' new father relocated his family to New York where she and I met and became great friends. What do we really know about The Chalk Garden? Herbert Ross produced it. The director was Ronald Neame and the original play was by Enid Bagnold, the author of National Velvet. It seemed an odd movie for Universal Pictures to release. I was shocked to discover after years of black and white TV that it was filmed in a luxurious Technicolor.

Peter Dizozza (from the Haley Mills Essay)

9 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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