In Victorian England, the uncle of orphaned niece Flora and nephew Miles hires Miss Giddens 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 and valet Peter Quint 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
"The Innocents" was the big career break for veteran film editor Jim Clark. They became close friends and regular drinking buddies during the production because they were both recently divorced and lived near each other. In his 2010 memoir "Dream Repairman", Clark described the editing of the film as an easy and pleasurable experience, largely because of Clayton's meticulous approach to film making. Clark also explained how he created unusually long cross-fades for the scene transitions - these ran four or five times longer that standard "4 foot" dissolves and often included a near-subliminal third element in the cross-fades. Clark described Clayton as "a big drinker who used to tipple all day - mostly brandy - and he was a chain smoker". He also noted Clayton's "perverse sense of humor", and expressed the view that Clayton (who, in his view, was "highly influenced" by his earlier contact with John Huston) also emulated Huston's "sadistic sense of practical joking". Clayton's personal assistant Jeannie Sims (who had previously worked for Huston) had been badly burned as a child, leaving her with scars on her hands and face, and she was terrified of fire, but according to Clark, Clayton "made it his business to try and set Jeanie alight as often as possible. He would go to enormous lengths, preparing bonfires that Jeanie would supposedly be put onto." Clark also revealed that, while generally charming, and revered by his crew, Clayton was sometimes prone to outbursts of extreme anger. He recounted an incident in which Jeanie Sims was unavoidably late calling Clayton with the reviews from the London critics' screening of "The Innocents", which Clayton was too nervous to attend. The screening was held up for over half an hour because of problems getting a senior film critic (who was wheelchair-bound) into the cinema, and after Sims finally contacted Clayton by phone, she returned to Clark ashen-faced and explained that Clayton had flown into a rage, and had viciously berated her over the phone for being late. When Sims called Clark to come to Clayton's studio office the next morning, he arrived to find that, the night before, Clayton had completely smashed the large plaster scale model of Bly House (the fictional location for the movie), and that he was refusing to speak to either of them. Although they patched up the friendship, Clark later opined that he felt his close relationship with Clayton had "crossed the line" of the professional relationship between an editor and a director. Although Clark worked with Clayton on his next film, "The Pumpkin Eater" (1964), their professional relationship and friendship effectively ended with that film - after it was released, Clayton inexplicably sent Clark a highly abusive letter, blaming him for the commercial failure of the film - although Clark later postulated that it might have been actually written by Jeanie Sims, because the letter was typed, and he knew that Clayton never used a typewriter. See more »
In the scene where Miles is on the horse, he rides with and without a saddle in various shots. See more »
The children... have they had a governess before?
Yes, unfortunately. Not that there was anything wrong with Miss Jessel. She was an excellent governess and a most respectable woman. The children quite liked her especially little Flora. Oh, which reminds me: Be careful not to broach that subject to Flora unless she broaches it to you first which I doubt will happen. She was so fond of Miss Jessel and it did come as an appalling shock.
I'm not certain that I understand you, sir.
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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 »
Based on the novella "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James, a young governess (Deborah Kerr) for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.
As outsiders looking in as voyeurs, we are left wondering about what the governess sees: are the children possessed? Or perhaps they have become friends with ghosts? Or is the governess simply paranoid? The film keeps us guessing, which only adds to its creepiness.
This title has the distinction of featuring the debut of Pamela Franklin, here playing the child Flora, who would later be memorable in "The Legend of Hell House". She expertly presents herself as innocent (hence the title) while saying creepy lines such as, "Oh, look, a lovely spider! And it's eating a butterfly." Did this inspire Jack Hill's "Spider Baby"?
The film has received wide critical acclaim for its psychological thrills and also its technological achievements (cinematographer Freddie Francis made the lightning his number one focus, and also shot the film in layers, giving it a deeper look than most movies). No less than Martin Scorsese has listed it among the greatest horror films ever made.
Freddie Francis is in top form here, coming off his Oscar win for "Sons and Lovers" (1960). His mark on the horror genre would only increase in the following years, as he took the director's chair for Amicus and Hammer numerous times in the 60s and 70s.
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