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This is one of those 1960's black & white British horror films that pack a wallop. I saw it on Tv as a young kid and it creeped me out and Bette Davis' performance haunted me. I saw it again not too long ago and was suprised how well it stood up. A nice simple story told with powerful flashbacks, Bette Davis gives a terrific, controlled performance as the perfect nanny to a dysfunctional family -a non-caring hard working father, a neurotic mother, a troubled boy and a darling little girl, cute as can be. But the family has a tragedy and what really happened? Well acted, well shot, a good late at night treasure.
If I were to use one word to describe this film, CREEPY would probably be it. But since this is one of my favorite psycho-thrillers, I'm gonna have to go slightly further than that. I will start off by stating that this is a masterpiece of horror filmmaking. It manages to thrill and entertain without the grotesque excesses of Bette Davis' other sixties shockers, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?, or HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE. Don't get me wrong, these are also two very fine films, but let's face it, they go way over the top at times. THE NANNY, however, is one of Davis' most realistic chillers dealing with the popular servant problem. Davis' employers are convinced that she's Mary Poppins, but the child in her care knows much better. The little boy, fresh out of a children's asylum, has great difficulty convincing his stuffy parents that the nanny was responsible for his baby sister's death. But we in the audience knows who's telling the truth and who's not, right? Wrong!!!!! Screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, who wrote several scripts for these sixties psychological-horrors, has taken great care in manipulating the audience every which way he can that pretty soon it seems that no one or anything in the story is quite what they appear to be. This is one of Bette Davis' most memorable latter-day film roles, but the great supporting cast is worth mentioning too. William Dix is a standout as the disturbed little boy, Wendy Craig is genuinely affecting as the boy's infantile mother, Jill Bennett is simply magnificent as the level-headed aunt who, like her nephew, suspects that there's something not altogether right about the nanny. The most impressive performance, however, is given by the remarkable child actress Pamela Franklin who plays the pretty young girl upstairs that the boy confides in. For intriguing mystery and heart-pounding suspense, THE NANNY is highly recommended!!!!!
So many people associate Wendy Craig with comedy roles only; many are
either too young, or simply don't remember that she played along side
such diverse actors and Hollywood Greats as Dirke Bogarde and Bette
Davis. In this - probably her greatest Movie, she gives an
award-winning performance as the neurotic wife of a Queen's Messenger
with a disturbed ten year old son.
This Movie could not go wrong with such a strong cast which included so many familiar greats as; Maurice Denham, Pamela Franklin and Jill Bennett to just mention one or two of them. Each actor gives their best in this gripping thriller from the outset. This Movie is not least made so great by no less than three wonderful child stars of the time - a feat that cannot be matched today, partly due to the fact that the age of the traditional Child Star has long left us... Angharad Aubrey, who plays the little dead girl Suzy in flashbacks is exceptionally talented at such a tender age, and surprisingly is never seen in Movies ever again. Not so surprising I suppose, when one considers that William Dix who plays Joey disappeared just a couple of years later, along with the famous Pamela Franklin who vanished from the Silver Screen never to return in 1976...
This Movie was difficult to get hold of when on Video release, and has only ever been done on DVD as a 'double' feature release with 'The Blue Lamp' which was a cheap and nasty way of issuing any Great British Classics.
I think the least one is told about this film, the better. The Viewer is best kept completely in the dark in order to enjoy it at its best. It's certainly a Movie I've savoured in my collection; having viewed it no less than thirty times to date, and still not tired!
There's nothing worse than an American attempting an English accent, or the other way round if not truly accomplished, but here, Bette Davis surpasses herself when she acts and sounds truly British. One ought to note that it is far more difficult to 'drop' an American accent, than it ever is to pick one up. Even the smaller parts are taken by well-known actors such as Alfred Burke and Harry Fowler.
Jill Bennett thoroughly enjoys herself in her dramatic role as the sickly sister; she always said that her idea of heaven was forever rehearsing - what a time she must have had here! Think about that one when you watch her in The Nanny!
Not to be missed!
Bette Davis gives her most chilling performance in this film. Her restraint is remarkable, following Baby Jane as this film did. If you ever want to see what passive aggressive looks like, watch this movie. I've seen it twice, and would want to see it again.
There was something about Bette Davis that made everything she did great viewing. Whether she was evil Bette, headstrong Bette or misguided Bette, she dominated all her films. In this film she is strange Bette, a queer housekeeper that could just be off her rocker. The film rachets up the tension from the very beginning. No setup at the beginning to explain anything, any questions the viewer might have will be answered in due time. The one problem, as with all films dealing with troublesome kids is that William Dix's Joey is so rotten in the beginning that one wants someone to knock him off, also he displays an unusual amount of intelligence for a 10 year old boy. But watch this for Davis as you wonder, did she or didn't she.
This is obviously not Mary Poppins from the very start. Nanny is so sticky
sweet that you suspect something's wrong. On the other hand, she may just be
that nice. Joey, who's coming home after being away for a couple of years,
is revealed to be either an insufferable brat, or a terribly disturbed and
frightened boy of 11 or so. Joey, who despises and harasses all middle-aged
women, says Nanny is trying to kill him. Sweet Nanny is afraid someone may
believe the child's irrational ravings. Mother Virgie, herself on the verge
of total mental collapse, can't cope. Father Bill is too busy with business
and travel, and too much the authoritarian parent to concern himself. Even
the supporting characters are flakey: frail Aunt Pen(elope), the 14-year-old
nymph Bobbie upstairs, Bobbie's boyfriend, and even the milkman! And what
happened to Susie, who may be the key to everything, but isn't in the cast
list? Something's terribly wrong. Who or what is it?
A deeply disturbing story, difficult even to watch, but exceedingly well done for the genre. Difficult to rate because it has zilch entertainment value, but I finally decided to go mainly for the "cinematic" value and give it an 8.
"The Nanny" probably just started out as an attempt to cash in on the
immense success of lead actress Bette Davis (who starred in "Hush
Hush, Sweet Charlotte" and "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" the
previous years) and who knows - maybe even the profitable concept of
"Mary Poppins", since that classic also revolved on the nanny/children
relationship; albeit a much happier and cheerful one. By no means,
however, this means that "The Nanny" is an inferior thriller
production. Quite the contrary, this is a hugely atmospheric and very
suspenseful pot-boiler and perhaps even one of Hammer's most underrated
efforts ever. The legendary British horror studio is mainly known for
its grueling takes on classic monster stories ("Dracula",
) and stupendous Sci-Fi movies (the "Quatermass"
trilogy), but they were also responsible for several gore-free but
spirited and story-driven psychological thrillers with a film-noir type
of atmosphere, and "The Nanny" is unquestionably one of the highlights
in this often overlooked sub category alongside "Hysteria" and
Our lead actress, with her uniquely creepy charisma and eyes that were sung about specifically (Bette Davis Eyes Bette Davis' Eyes), stars as an exaggeratedly polite and overly dedicated nanny in a household full of neurotic outcasts. Mommy is an emotional wreck since the death of her cherubic daughter; daddy is a senseless prick who's never there when needed and ten-year-old son Joey just left a mental institution because he's suspected of drowning his sister. Joey hates Nanny with a passion, claims she killed little Suzy and now openly accuses her of wanting to do the same to him. No matter how patient and loving she tries to be, Joey's behavior grows increasingly aggressive and uncontrollable. Admittedly no one, not even the most inexperienced and/or unintelligent horror viewer, will have much trouble figuring out what's really going on quite early in the film already, but Hammer veterans Seth Holt ("Taste of Fear") and Jimmy Sangster ("Fear in the Night") nevertheless maintain the tension level high and the delivers the chills on a very regular basis. It's a slow-paced but non-stop ominous film, with the photography in good old black & white which always adds to the atmosphere and a truly depressing depiction of certain uptight British social classes. It's praiseworthy how, even though the denouement is transparent from the beginning, Holt and Sangster still manage to occasionally make you wonder who speaks the truth: the little boy who acts like Dennis The Menace on acid and simply asks for a thorough spanking or the stoically cold but unimpeachable nanny? Davis is sublime, but young actor William Dix definitely doesn't have to yield to her persona as he gives away a marvelous performance. It even is truly incomprehensible and unfortunate that he just appeared in only one more movie after this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Good photography and production values, but without much ambition from creator Sangster, who sets out to supply a gimmicky film and delivers. If they had attempted something more, they might have made a really good movie. As it is, it's a tight suspense package with a few memorable scenes. Bette Davis is very good, and William Dix was as effective as a child actor can be. I especially like where Nanny was gonna bathe the kid with a corpse -- true sicko stuff that should appeal to fans of creepy and gothic horror.
This 1965 thriller starring Bette Davis as the Nanny is pretty much a perfect thriller. This follows her great performance in another classic "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte". Much different in theme than that movie or "Baby Jane", "The Nanny" is non-stop suspense and tension right from the beginning until the twisty ending. With a superb story, excellent direction, and great performances, including William Dix as Joey, a 10 year old terror of a kid, who was suspected in the death of his little sister and put in an institution for a couple of years, and now has been returned home. His neurotic Mother is not too well herself, and the overbearing Father make this family a little dysfunctional, making the Nanny to be the most sane of them all. But is Joey's action and constant nagging at the Nanny and everybody else, actually the only truth going on, or is he just a truly bad seed? By the end of the movie, that is all too clear. Excellent movie in all departments, and for Bette Davis fans especially, this is a must-have. Seeing this way back when, it was also a pretty scary movie.
The Nanny (1965, Dir. Seth Holt)
With Joey Fane (Dix) back home, all Virginia (Craig) and Bill (Villiers) Fane want is a calm and respectful atmosphere amongst the house. Only something is still disturbing Joey and that one thing is Nanny (Davis). Whilst Nanny is a loving woman who helps around the house, Joey sees her as someone else someone who believes is responsible for the death of his sister (Aubrey).
Wonderful classic British thriller which still keeps you hooked in now. Bette Davis creates a wonderful 'Nanny', which really gets you involved in the character. With a wonderful supporting cast, Horrors don't involve you anymore like this did.
What was so bad about Mrs. Griggs? Nanny (Bette Davis)
She was like you. Joey Fane (William Dix)
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