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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  27 June 1969 (West Germany)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 6,393 users  
Reviews: 77 user | 36 critic

A headstrong young teacher in a private school in 1930s Edinburgh ignores the curriculum and influences her impressionable 12 year old charges with her over-romanticized world view.



(adapted from the novel by), (based on the play by), 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Celia Johnson ...
Miss Mackay
Lavinia Lang ...
Emily Carstairs
Antoinette Biggerstaff ...
Helen McPhee
Margo Cunningham ...
Isla Cameron ...
Miss McKenzie
Rona Anderson ...
Miss Lockhart
Ann Way ...
Molly Weir ...
Miss Allison Kerr


A liberated young schoolteacher at an Edinburgh girls' school in the period between the two wars, instructs her girls on the ways of life. Ignoring the more mundane subjects, she teaches them of love, politics and art. Her affairs with two male teachers become known and she finds herself fighting to keep her job. She believes that she can always count on the 100% support of her favourite pupils, but one of them does not feel that Miss Jean Brodie is in her "prime" any more. No longer swayed by her teacher's eloquence, she begins to learn about life and love herself. Written by Rhino <rhino@blueyonder.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In the surprising world of Jean Brodie, there were two men and four girls. See more »




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| | |

Release Date:

27 June 1969 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

A Primavera de uma Solteirona  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Rather like Hogwarts, another school created by an Edinburgh based writer, there has been some debate which school Marcia Blane's is based on. Mary Erskine's is commonly cited, but Muriel Spark herself went to James Gillespies, and it is generally accepted that Jean Brodie is partially based on Christina Kay who taught there. People who knew Miss Kay say she was quite different to the character though. See more »


The very first shot of the film shows the Edinburgh skyline, with a caption stating that it's 1932. But clearly visible in the centre of frame is the white cube of the (now demolished) Goldberg's department store, which was built in the early 1960s. See more »


[first lines]
Gordon Lowther: Morning girls. Good Morning.
Sandy: There's Miss Brodie!
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Screen Tests: Take 2 (1999) See more »


For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
Sung by a group as "For You're a Jolly Good Fellow"
See more »

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User Reviews

Prof. McGonagall, is that ... you?
28 November 2007 | by (Portland, Or) – See all my reviews

Just watched it for the third time in as many days. Oh, Edingurgh looks gorgeous, and so does Dame Maggie. I admit to knowing very little about her, but this role alone would make me a lifetime fan.

Rather than another summary and interpretation I want to riff on a few seemingly random points ...

1) The costumes. Fabulous, fabulous period costumes. The grey of the "gehrls" ... all those pleated skirts and dropped waists! Sandy's little gingham number! The bloomers ... oh, how sweet those bloomers were (and I mean nothing perverse by that, I just thought they were cute, and I'll own up to always wondering what was under those '30s skirts). The school uniforms, the effect of the repetition on that gray, gray, gray, and those tidy peter-pan collared shirts: you could easily see why Miss Brodie fancied herself a bit of a Duce herself, she seemed to be surrounded by a uniformed army. And then ... against the greys of the girls, the greys, whites and blacks of the staff -- wonderful houndstooths and glen plaids, especially on the headmistress -- Miss Brodie, impossibly slim and hipless, in radiant plums, flame colors, paisleys and asymmetrical jackets. If only I could have a tailor like that. It worked, it absolutely works still: it doesn't look a bit garish, as so many Technicolor extravaganzas can.

2) Miss Brodie's blindness to who Sandy really is - her insensitivity to her; going on about how "ordinary morals will not apply" to the allegedly-beautiful girl (well, she's blonde anyway) while failing to look beneath the glasses of the real stunner, Sandy. Who with the slightest bit of knowledge about pre-teen girls would do that - harp on a friend's beauty and negligently add, "Oh, but you have insight, dear"? The whole set-up: Sandy's elevated to a peer-like relationship, Sandy's confided in, yet Sandy is only a mirror for Jean, not valued, not truly noticed. I believe that's the dynamic - almost like a neglected lover's - that triggers Sandy's betrayal.

3) Sandy, and her amazing transformation. My jaw actually dropped when we saw her with the painter: did they film over a period of years, I wondered? How could that little girl be THIS young woman? Going back and watching - the schoolgirl uniform, the tousled short hair, the whole expression, look in the eyes, everything. The over-sized glasses. The most convincing precocious-12-year-old performance. And then - pow, an adult! all without CGI. That was impressive.

4) The giggling and sexually curious girls. Hey, I do remember being 12, and yeah, it was like that!

5) That incredible dance scene, the 2 girls tangoing while speculating on "doing it." Fantastic blocking. And funny, and charming as hell. I especially like Sandy's aggressive cranking of the Victrola.

I personally detested the painter - the whole notion of the father of 6 tomcatting about, well, yuck - and his manhandling of the ladies is simply vile. But those were the times, I suppose. The headmistress was sublime. The overall look is artful but not overdone and all perfectly unified and beautiful. Enjoy - I certainly have!

28 of 32 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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