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The Beguiled (1971)

While imprisoned in a Confederate girls' boarding school, an injured Union soldier cons his way into each of the lonely women's hearts, causing them to turn on each other, and eventually, on him.

Director:

(as Donald Siegel)

Writers:

(screenplay) (as John B. Sherry), (screenplay) (as Grimes Grice) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
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Mae Mercer ...
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Amy
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Abigail (as Melody Thomas)
Peggy Drier ...
Patricia Mattick ...
Janie (as Pattye Mattick)
Charlie Briggs ...
1st Confederate Captain (as Charles Briggs)
George Dunn ...
Sam Jefferson
...
...
Scrogins
Patrick Culliton ...
Miles Farnswoth
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Storyline

As the costly American Civil War still rages on, a 12-year-old student of the forgotten Miss Martha Farnsworth's Seminary for Young Ladies in warm and humid Louisiana stumbles upon a gravely wounded Union soldier, John McBurney. Taken in to recover from his injuries, the Corporal is imprisoned in a small room inside the mansion, however, before long, the seductive and unwanted guest will manage to take advantage of the female inhabitants' wartime-subdued desires. But is really McBurney in control over the situation? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Who is really the captor and who the captive? See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

29 January 1971 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

El engaño  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,100,000, 31 December 1971
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Other titles contemplated by Universal Pictures were "Pussy-footing Down at the Old Plantation" and "On One I Walked". See more »

Goofs

Edwina sings a couple of lines from the gospel song "In the Garden," which wasn't written until 1912, more than 50 years after the time of the story. See more »

Quotes

2nd Confederate Captain: It seems to me is how you might be afraid of being molested by them Yankees. I could leave a couple of my boys here to sleep in your barn for a night or two.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Good Morning Britain: Episode dated 20 April 2017 (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Dove She is a Pretty Bird
(uncredited)
Traditional
Performed by Clint Eastwood
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User Reviews

 
A creepy tale of Gothic horror and deception
31 December 2004 | by See all my reviews

"The Beguiled" is one of my favorite Clint Eastwood films, and a departure from his typical early roles. Directed by Don Siegel, with whom Eastwood collaborated on several films, it was made a year before Eastwood's directorial debut with "Play Misty For Me". An alternate title considered for the film was "Pussy-Footing Down At The Old Plantation", which thankfully was not used, otherwise I am sure raunchy jokes about the fact that it takes place at a girls' school would be difficult to avoid. I first saw this movie in one of my college film classes in the mid-1970's, and was immediately taken with it. I only had an old battered VHS tape of it until I recently purchased the widescreen DVD, which also includes the hilarious, awful trailer that makes the film come across as a "Peyton Place" soap opera, and conveys none of the creepiness of the film.

Interesting notes: Eastwood and Siegel had to battle with Universal Pictures to keep the original ending, and they won out; and, the film was billed as a standard Eastwood western, which it certainly is not. It is a Gothic tale of deception and horror set in the time of the Civil War, with an underlying tone of eroticism and sexual tension running throughout.

I'm not putting any spoilers in this review, and if you want to see the film as it should be seen, then be careful of looking it up on the internet, as spoiler reviews of it do abound.

Clint Eastwood portrays John McBurney, a Union soldier who is shot on Confederate ground and discovered by a young girl from a nearby girls' school. She rescues him and takes him back to the school, but instead of notifying the local patrol of his presence so that he will be taken to prison, the headmistress, Miss Martha (Geraldine Page), her assistant Edwina (Elizabeth Hartman), their black servant Hallie (Mae Mercer), and the mostly teenage girls take him in, heal him, and fall under his spell. The film sets its tone of creepiness and Gothic horror right from the titles, as it shows real battleground shots from the war, while Eastwood's voice is heard quietly singing a funereal song of the time.

The opening scene of his encounter with the little girl who saves him sets the tone of his character, and the tone of the entire movie. To say any more than that would spoil the surprises in that first scene. To say much more about the film itself might ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen it...if you are into creepy, Gothic tales, find it and rent it. Eastwood is excellent in the film, and it is interesting to see him in an early role, or any role, where he portrays a character that is for the most part very unsympathetic.

Geraldine Page had a plum role in the film as the headmistress, and I cannot imagine another actress of the time being as good in the role; a long shot could have been Piper Laurie, but I don't think Laurie could have embodied the role in the same manner as Geraldine Page.

Elizabeth Hartman (whose wonderful performance in the film "A Patch of Blue" as a blind girl who falls in love with Sidney Poiter's character is another high point in her short career) is at her prime here, delicate and masterful at the same time. Unfortunately, her delicacy on film was also a part of her real life; she committed suicide at age 45.

I end this review with this observation: one manipulative, lying Yankee man is no match for a houseful of deceptive and libidinous Southern belles.


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