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


Jack Clayton


Henry James (based on the story "The Turn of the Screw"), John Mortimer (additional scenes & dialogue) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Deborah Kerr ... Miss Giddens
Peter Wyngarde ... Peter Quint
Megs Jenkins ... Mrs. Grose
Michael Redgrave ... The Uncle
Martin Stephens ... Miles
Pamela Franklin ... Flora
Clytie Jessop ... Miss Jessel
Isla Cameron ... Anna


In Victorian England, the uncle (Sir Michael Redgrave) of orphaned niece Flora (Pamela Franklin) and nephew Miles (Martin Stephens) hires Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) 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 (Clytie Jessop) and valet Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde) 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


A strange new experience in shock. See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Feature film debut of Pamela Franklin. See more »


In the scene where Miles is on the horse, he rides with and without a saddle in various shots. See more »


The Uncle: Miss Giddens, may I ask you a somewhat personal question? Do you have an imagination?
Miss Giddens: Oh!
Miss Giddens: Oh, yes, I can answer that. Yes.
The Uncle: Good. Truth is very seldom understood by any but imaginative persons... and I want to be quite truthful.
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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 »


Referenced in The Andrew Klavan Show: Blaming Harvey's Victims (2017) See more »


O Willow Waly
Music by Georges Auric
Lyric by Paul Dehn
Performed by Isla Cameron
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User Reviews

"Gone is my lord and the grave is his prison."
20 November 2014 | by utgard14See all my reviews

Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) is hired to be the governess to two children on a country estate. She comes to believe the place and the children are haunted by the spirits of their previous governess and her brutish lover. No one else believes her so she tries to get rid of the ghosts herself.

The first screen adaptation of Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw, " a psychological ghost story that leaves unanswered the question of whether the ghosts are real or imagined. This sort of story is pretty common in movies of the last 20 years but was much less so in 1898 or even 1961. Don't let the ambiguity put you off that there are no scares here. This is a movie full of spooky moments, shadowy figures, startling reflections, eerie voices. It's beautifully photographed by Freddie Francis. The music and sound effects add to the feeling of unease. Deborah Kerr gives a nail-biting performance as the neurotic, repressed Miss Giddens. The child actors, Pamela Franklin and Martin Stephens, are sufficiently precocious and weird to keep you off balance as to the truth behind their possession. Stephens was the leader of the kids in Village of the Damned. Franklin would go on to appear in such '70s greats as And Soon the Darkness and The Legend of Hell House. Megs Jenkins is good as the kindly housekeeper. Peter Wyngarde is creepy as the menacing Quint.

The pace is slow, which will turn off impatient viewers, and the scares are subtle and not as visceral as most modern horror fans seem to enjoy. But if you like thoughtful horror films then this is one you'll want to see. Fans of the suggestive classics Val Lewton produced in the '40s should also check this out.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

15 December 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Turn of the Screw See more »


Box Office


GBP430,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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