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A small gem
Teach-723 April 1999
Warning: Spoilers
This is an unusual movie, and could well, in time, turn out to be a classic. It concerns 7 siblings left to fend for themselves in a big house after their beloved Mother dies. They bury the corpse in the back garden, and never tell anyone, because they are all under-age and fear the orphanage..

Even if dead, Mother becomes a religious mentor for the children, her thoughts being "channeled" through one of the girls in ritual, late night sessions.

They seem to manage pretty well, but things turn out ugly when the rambling, long lost "father" returns to take over the household. He wins them over, manipulates them, steals Mother's life-savings, and in a gripping finale, reveals to the children the terrible secret Mother has hidden from them.

It's a quite gruesome film, emotionally draining and heartless, an obvious comparison would be "Oliver Twist", or perhaps a dark fairytale from the brothers Grimm... At first, before the father arrives, I thought it was a Christian parable, where the mother represented the dead Jesus, and the children the acolytes and worshippers. But 50 minutes into the proceedings, it turns into something else. From then on, it's anybody's guess! Still, this ambiguity befits the story and keeps you on your toes throughout, until the sorry end.

Jack Clayton's direction is good, if rather literary, the house is a spooky, claustrophobic menace, while the child actors are uniformly excellent. You wouldn't believe young children could perpetuate audience interest in a melodramatic story like this, but, like in that other classic "the Secret garden", they do. Brilliant acting! Dirk Bogarde is supposed to be quietly menacing and evil, and he is exactly that.

Beware though, this is definitely not a film for children!
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Captures the Viewer and doesn't let him go
Thorsten_B20 June 2004
From the first scene of the film one can already tell that there is fine cinematography. We see a girl walking the street of a suburban part of London and immediately one knows that this is a film different to many others – it's slow, it's silent, and still it's intriguing and exciting. Accompanied by an equally great musical score by Georges Delerue, Jack Claytons direction is outstanding. He presents eight children whose sick mother passes away one morning. Upon their close relationship on the one and their fear of being torn apart from each other at the other side, the children decide to keep on living `normally', as if their mother was still alive. They manage to keep up a cover story for teachers and neighbors while their relationship gets even closer. As expectable with children these age (ranging from, I'd guess, ages 3 to 12), they create their rituals (the German translation of the title is `Every evening at 9 o'clock') and manage to find a way to keep in touch with their world `before' – when the beloved mother was still live. They achieve that aim by mixing up religious belief with their childrenlike, yet never naïve `rationality'. But of course, their secret cannot be kept forever… or can it? Dirk Bogarde is great in his role because he convincingly shows the two sides of his character: Loving at one part, but altogether selfish. But credits must go to the incredible cast of children whose performances draw the viewer into the story and force him to stay there. It is one of those rare films were the audience develops real sympathy for the figures. The ending, though probably not all too surprising, is the highlight of the picture and contains a great deal of melancholy. One wonders how the story would continue – but on the other hand, everything that needs to be said is said. As other comments already stated, not a film for children, but one of the best film about children ever made; it's goal was to achieve an insight into the world of a childs mind, and it succeeds brilliantly.
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Amazing little world
marcosaguado11 March 2004
Among the filmography of the great Jack Clayton, OUR MOTHER'S HOUSE ranks with ROOM AT THE TOP, THE INNOCENTS and THE PUMPKIN EATER. He has a master's hand to deal with the smallest details. His work with children is unsurpassed. Here we have the splendid Pamela Franklin (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) and Mark Lester(Oliver in Carol Reed's Oliver) plus a sterling performance by Dirk Bogarde. The film is, clearly, an ancestor of THE CEMENT GARDEN but it creates a world impossible to emulate. In my list of films that changed my life, it goes hand in hand with ROSEMARY'S BABY, APARTMENT ZERO, THE CONFORMIST and BLOW UP.
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Terrific, atmospheric film
info-694723 December 2005
I was actually an extra in this film, as the school scenes were filmed at my junior school, St Leonards Church of England School in Chelsham, Surrey. I remember having to wear my best school uniform and do as I was told. I was 8 years old, I suppose, and it was all very exciting with the lights and the trailers and all the people buzzing around. I don't remember whether we were allowed to meet the stars; I somehow doubt it!

This is a great film, very atmospheric, very spooky, and totally believable - kids in the 1960s were obviously very resourceful (and full of very odd ideas). Needless to say, I wasn't allowed to watch the film until I was much older than when I was in it.
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Creepy little piece of work.
stiv-73 November 1999
I saw this about 14 years ago in a stroke of luck ( a local TV station had picked up a print, and my mother, suspense thriller buff that she is, decided to tape it), and the film has stuck with me ever since. It's not your typical horror film, and has more of a tragic element which was so very common to films of the genre in this particular era. The dark and dirty imagery only serves to enhance the premise, and the shrine the Hook children build to their mother is downright creepy. The children do a very decent job of portraying children ( something that is increasingly rare these days) and Dirk Bogarde does a fantastic job of portraying their scumbag father. And to boot, we've got a heavy incest theme going on. If you can get a hold of this one, go for it: it's very much of its time, but the opportunity is well worth any trouble.
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Mother knows best, even when she's dead and buried in the garden!
Coventry31 August 2018
Seriously, how stupefying can one motion picture be? That's what I kept wondering throughout "Our Mother's House", or at least during the largest part of it. This is a film like you seldomly encounter them, with a plot that is completely original and unseen, at atmosphere that is unsettling from start to finish, characters AND acting performances that are 100% pure and natural and - perhaps most important of all - a story that never at one point becomes predictable or soft. Although a lot less known, "Our Mother's House" might even be more powerful than Clayton's other acclaimed genre milestone "The Innocents". But simply labeling this film as a horror story wouldn't do it any justice. Even though disturbing and utterly bleak, this is more of a harrowing drama. The plot, adapted from a novel by Julian Gloag, is as simple as it is genius: seven siblings live with their bed-ridden mother in a big house and the oldest two, Elsa and Hubert, take care of all the daily chores. But when mother dies, the fear of becoming separated and ending up at an orphanage drives the children to keep mother's dead secret and even bury her body in the garden. Of course, there arise some difficulties, like how to cash in the monthly allowance money or how to get rid of the irritating governess Mrs. Quayle, but overall, they manage just fine. After all, they can always ask for mother's advice during their daily seances. But then their alleged father Charlie Hook shows up. Most of the children now seem to feel like they form a real family again, with Charlie to protect them, but the oldest daughter Elsa remains very skeptical and openly questions Charlie's honesty. Personally, I liked the film much better before Charlie (Dirk Bogarde) entered the scene, but admittedly his role is very difficult, courageous and challenging. "Our Mother's House" is fully of uncanny highlights, notably the so-called "Mother Time" gatherings in the garden shed and the suffering of poor little Gerty when she gets punished for talking to a stranger. The titular house is a wondrously grim setting and Clayton masterfully maintains a slow yet atmospheric pacing with beautiful photography and bone-chilling music. It's a tremendously underrated British cult-classic that deserves to be seen by wider audiences!

Sinister trivia detail: Annette Carell, the actress who briefly appears as Mother, really died in the same year when the film was released. In 1967, she committed suicide at the young age of 38.
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I saw it when I was a child.........and I still have nightmares
Steed-231 May 2003
I saw this not-well-known movie when I was a little child. That night I couldn´t sleep believing my mother was going to die. Years later, as a teenager I saw it again......this time I thought I was a mature person and nothing would happen. Big mistake!!!!!!!!!! Another sleepless night!!!!!!!!! At the age of 27 I saw the movie again. This time, I said, I'm going to prove myself it's not gonna shock me as before. Another big mistake!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The movie is shown on TV via TCM Channel (in Astra)every month. I have taped the movie and it's one of my dearest treasures. But it's hard to see it again. Everytime I decide to see it again I know I'm gonna feel so bad that I better not think about it twice! You could think this is some kind of masochism or self-mental-injury...but I don´t think so. Our Mother House is just a brilliant movie. And yes, I also consider it's a gem waiting to be discovered and release in a excellent DVD Special edition. So much has been said about it here. A drama? A horror movie? The loss of childhood?...everything it's true. The movie atmosphere is so dark and blue that you can feel how those children feel. The children do a fine job as well as Dirk Bogarde and Yootha Yoice (the later Mrs. Roper in the cult sitcom Man about the House). I've never read the book but the movie is a must see!!!!!!!!!! As some users say, this is a movie about children...but NOT for children. My own experience taught me that some movies can be traumatic...........But I wonder how the director and actors managed to deal with this story without disturbing the children. Did the children notice what was the story about? Specially in the final scene. A big question I hope can be answered in a future DVD release!!!!!!!!!!! Follow my advice.............get a chance and see it.
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Wolfsglen8 October 2002
Very spooky and genuinely disturbing film, that completely avoids all the stereotypical "shock values" in favor of a purely psychological chiller that relies on its script and actors to get over instead. Of particular note are the children in this film, all of whom lack the pre-groomed and pre-prepared feel of some child actors and instead give a superbly realistic performance. Dirk Bogarde is surprisingly good in his role as a gold-digger, and his unforced interaction with the kids only adds more depth.

Another of this movies strong points is that it provokes thought more from insinuation than actions, leaving a lot open to the interpretation of the viewer. Different people will see different "things" when viewing this! Highly Recommended old classic that deserves a viewing.
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More innocents.
dbdumonteil14 July 2003
At the beginning of the sixties ,Jack Clayton made a fine adaptation of "the turn of the screw",called "the innocents" which featured P.Franklin too.This could be called "more innocents "but there's a strong difference between the two works.Although "our mother's house" verges on fantastic,there's nothing irrational,nothing supernatural here.THat's what we can call a miracle of a movie:because it sounds like a horror and fantasy movie without all the genre gimmicks .So people who're looking for gore,special effects and other paraphernalia,please pass by.If you enjoy strong screenplays,first-class performances and masterful direction,this is a must.

Eight children whose mother's just passed away want to go on with their life as if nothing happened.Besides ,they do believe that their mother is still with them,and Pamela Franklin 's rendering is absolutely stunning when she acts as some kind of medium:far from the usual clichés -as you can see in "ghost" for instance-,she will give you goose pimples.This mother will remain a mystery,maybe a saint steeped in piety,maybe somebody much worse than a goody-two-shoes,as Charlie eventually claims.

Charlie is masterfully portrayed by Dirk Bogarde who was in his more fruitful period with such masterpieces as "accident" "king and country" "la caduti dei degi" "morte a Venezio".He keeps people waiting for he only appears after about forty minutes.But when he's on the screen ,the chemistry between the thespian and the children is so obvious that there's no hiatus.At first sight,he resembles some adult Peter Pan (hairdo,swagger,clothes,not to forget the name:Hook!).Here ,where Spielberg dismally failed when he made "Hook" ,Jack Clayton with a much smaller budget had already succeeded in portraying an adult/child, more than twenty years before.But further acquaintance will show that an adult can no longer remain a child .When Charlie is a man again,tragedy is waiting around the corner.

"Our mother's house" is so rich a movie that you could stay all night talking about it:a twilight glow shines on an autumnal suburb and turns into absolute darkness for the last sequence.Georges Delerue's score is simply marvelous and enhances the perfection of the pictures.

A strong influence on the French movie "la fracture du myocarde".

See it at any cost.
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Atmospheric piece of work.
Boba_Fett113819 May 2006
This is a good little movie that heavily relies on its uneasy atmosphere. The movie is also greatly carried by its cast, both the adult as the children's.

The story is simple yet effective. The story perfectly sets up an uneasy atmosphere that is dark and sober. The story is unusual and original as well. The movie can perhaps be best described as a dark drama/thriller. The fact that the movie is both unusual and original is probably the reason why this movie unfortunately isn't any better known.

The character are perfectly portrayed in the movie and play a great role in the movie its story. The movie is especially carried by the children cast of the movie, who play the most significant and biggest role in the entire movie. The young characters are all both realistic as powerful. Every characters has its own strong personality and they are what make this movie always interesting and never boring to follow, even though the pace itself isn't always terribly high.

But the movie also has a good adult cast that unfortunately is perhaps a bit underused at times. Dirk Bogarde plays a great role in the movie but unfortunately his character is introduced at least 15 minutes too late in to the movie. Once his character is introduced in to the story the movie takes more form and becomes even more intriguing to follow. It was also great to see Yootha Joyce in the movie, who I only knew from the British comedy series "George and Mildred". She is a great actress and really gets to show her skills in this movie.

The movie handles some intriguing, original and uneasy themes and the movie handles all those themes on its own very special way. It makes the movie a both original as well as memorable movie to watch.

Definitely worth seeing, when you get the opportunity to.


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Another excellent film by Jack Clayton
blanche-21 September 2009
Seven children continue in "Our Mother's House" after she dies in this 1967 film starring Dirk Bogarde, Pamela Franklin, and Mark Lester, and directed by Jack Clayton. A very ill, religious woman, the mother of seven, dies suddenly at home. Her children, afraid of being separated, bury her in the garden and continue to live as if nothing had happened, forging her monthly annuity check. One day, their long-absent father (Bogarde) reappears.

Based on a novel by Julian Gloag, Haya Harareet (Heston's Ben Hur co-star) and Jeremy Brooks fashioned an excellent screenplay, beautifully directed by Jack Clayton, a true master (The Innocents, The Pumpkin Eater). With a dark, spooky atmosphere inside a big old house, he creates the world in which the children live, one where they care for one another, pray, and communicate nightly with their mother. When Charlie Hook, their father arrives, that all changes, and the world comes rushing in. At first, Charlie is what is needed - his presence means they're safe from the outside world, but gradually, even his supporters among the children begin to see that he's a danger.

Clayton manages to bring in an incestuous undertone without overtly showing any incest - in the days when directors needed to adhere to certain codes, they called upon their imaginations. It made film more subtle and definitely more interesting to watch.

The acting is superb. Bogarde is in top form as the at first lovable Charlie, who, as he does in "The Servant," gradually becomes more sinister. Pamela Franklin is marvelous as Diana, one of the older children; all of the children are excellent - Clayton was no stranger to directing children, and his deft hand is shown here.

Perhaps not a well-known film in the U.S., "Our Mother's House" will make a lasting impression.
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Rather creepy...
MartinHafer15 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This film begins with a sickly mother and her seven children living in an old English house. When the mother dies of whatever disease she has, the kids decide NOT to tell anyone and just bury her in the yard. After all, Mother did have a pension and they can live on that...provided no one notice they are signing the checks or asks what happened to the mother. This is all very creepy and I wasn't too sure if I liked this or not. A bit later, however, their ne'er-do-well father returns--after having abandoned them years before. Now, this scoundrel soon figures out what's happened and he proceeds to loot the savings account, bring in assorted tarts into the religious home and systematically sells off what he can. He's a total creep--using the money for alcohol, horses and ladies. What are the kids to do?! It's almost like it would be better if they just told everyone their mother had died.

Seeing this film was interesting to me, as the father is very similar to my uncle--and I am sure most families have a cretin like this somewhere. This took the film from a creepy but somewhat dull film to a really interesting movie--as Dirk Bogarde played an amazingly slimy character. He was vicious and horrid--just the sort of guy that you can't stop watching because he's so awful! And the final scene where he reveals to the kids exactly who he really is--you just have to see it! Creepy but fascinating--this one's well worth seeing--and one you won't soon forget. Plus, I was impressed as some of the children's performances were exceptional--particularly the older ones. As for my wife, however, she didn't like the vague ending...though it did work for me.
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swinging sixties seem a long way off in this almost Dickensian comic tragedy
The reason few have heard of this film is because it is impossible to categorise. Made a few years after the same director made The Innocents and with much of the same sense of mystery and wonder but also the same fear of discovering just too much underneath. The swinging sixties seem a long way off in this almost Dickensian comic tragedy and much of the action seems to evoke the 50s and all those pre war skeletons tumbling out of creaking closets. Hints of incest and worse are probably the main reasons that this has all but disappeared but its a shame because all the children perform remarkably, as do Dirk Bogarde and Yootha Joyce. Immaculate direction, fine music and a wonderful script.
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Our mothers house
hjparr116 October 2010
I can recall this film being made. I was 10 at the time and lived near by. My mum took me to watch the filming. Dirk Bogart was a very big star at the time and a small crowd of young mums would stand outside hopping to catch a glimpse. It was this movie that introduced me to the cinema.

The actual house that was used for the outside shots was in Chichester Road. Opposite the junction with Chepstow Rise. I believe that the sign of Chepstow Rise appears in the film. The house has long since been pulled down and replaced by flats, part of the Park Hill Estate built by Wates. Towards the end of the film a scene is shot in West Croydon. Still a great Film and worth a watch. The film is very sad in places and shows loyalty from the kids, Similar in some ways to Lord of the Flys. Dirk Bogart plays his part brilliantly as he did in all of his pictures.
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Definitely not a chiller, but still good
suemartin2326420 March 2007
This was on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) a few days ago, and after all the great comments I saw about this movie, I didn't hesitate to tape it on DVD. It wasn't what I had expected in the least, and until Dirk Bogarde turns up, it's quite an average movie. But it definitely does improve after that.

The general gist of the film is that seven children who fear the orphanage bury their mother in the garden after she dies of illness, so that no one will find out. For the next 30 minutes, the film revolves around how the children survive on their own, and how they support each other (one of these methods being 'mothertime', where they have séances in the garden as they try to contact their dead mother). Then Dirk Bogarde turns up, and he claims to be their father. Most of the children take to him immediately, but the eldest doesn't, and this leads to all sorts of complications for the family, leading up to the climax (which is actually the best thing about this film).

The film, when you look at it closely, is, in fact, quite good. It's got a good storyline, good acting, and great scenery. If you're looking for a horror flick, look elsewhere, but if you're looking for a subtle, well acted melodrama, then look no further!

Definitely worth a viewing!
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mesmerizing tale of lost innocence
thomandybish31 May 2001
OUR MOTHER'S HOUSE is one weird psychological ride. Here we have a family living in a gloomy Victorian house with a reclusive, Bible-thumping invalid mother--surely fertile ground for insanity or incest or both. However, what we have is a painful portrait of adolescence in the older children and the horrors of navigating through an adult world. Left to their own devices after the mother's untimely death, the children do their best to survive, being molded by the mother's unstable religious ramblings. However, things take a turn for the worst when the absentee father arrives, shattering some illusions crucial to the little family's identity. . .

I've never seen anything like this film(the recent film THE CEMENT GARDEN comes to mind, but that film takes an entirely different direction with an incest theme), one in which children literally elevate their mother to the status of religious icon. This situation is simultaneously chilling and pathetic. This one is for people who enjoy character-driven psychological dramas.
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Go Away, Go Away, Go Away!
hitchcockthelegend8 March 2014
Our Mother's House is directed by Jack Clayton and adapted to screenplay by Jeremy Brooks and Haya Harareet from the novel of the same name written by Julian Gloag. It stars Dirk Bogarde, Margaret Brooks, Pamela Franklin, Louis Sheldon Williams, John Gugolka, Mark Lester and Yootha Joyce. Music is by Georges Delerue and cinematography by Larry Pizer.

When seven youngsters are left orphaned by the death of their bedridden mother, they decide to keep her passing quiet case they get split up and sent into orphanages. The youngsters prove to be quite resourceful and tick along nicely, that is until one of the boys brings a friend home to live with them; just as the children's estranged father appears on the doorstep.

At first glance it seems material ripe for an Ealing Studios piece, a whimsical fable of adorable youngsters taking on the world in trying circumstances, Our Mother's House is a far cry from such a thing! It's a creepy off-kilter film of some considerable class, containing psychological insights into seven children adapting and improvising in life by creating their own new order. The results are both enlightening and frightening. They have a weekly séance type of set-up where they believe they are talking to their dead mother, they administer their own punishments and forge their own cheques! But of course this self sufficient life can't possibly last…

Children of the beguiled.

Once their supposed father Charlie (Bogarde brilliant) arrives on the scene, the applecart is well and truly upset. He evokes a number of different passions in the children, good and bad, but he seems a genuine guy, however, both Charlie and the children have new colours yet to be revealed, and once out in the open all will form the potent and dramatic last quarter. The child actors are excellent, well guided by Clayton (The Innocents), who manages to bring out the various states of emotional confusion upon the death of the mother. Joyce in a rare serious role is good "Cougar" foil for Bogarde, Delerue's music is very much in tune with the weird feel to the plotting, and Pizer's photography really hits the psychological assistance markers, being particularly striking in the finale as the door to Hades is opened.

Clayton and Bogarde were never happy with the finished film, but that's no marker to the quality on show here. It's all a bit implausible of course, but very rarely does the pic disappoint. 8/10
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A fine British movie well outside the box..................
ianlouisiana16 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Criminally under - rated,cinematographer/director Mr Jack Clayton created some excellent intelligent atmospheric films that lovers of British cinema look on with special affection.His 1967 "Our mother's house" is a fine example of his sensitivity with child actors and his flair for looking beyond the obvious in casting his adult roles.Mr Dirk Bogarde,for instance,might not have come immediately to mind for the role of a feckless working - class Londoner,but Mr Clayton knew exactly what he was capable of,and Bogarde's performance so moved Signor Visconti that after watching "Our mother's house" he chose him for the life - changing "Death in Venice". Children are seldom the helpless,adult - dependent creatures they are often taken for.Perforce they can be resilient,resourceful and strong. Failing to notify the authorities about the death of their mother,the Hook children hope to escape the dreaded "Orphanage"(much more likely to be put "in care" - probably a fate even worse)and keep the family together. Unfortunately their absent father turns up and threatens their familial security. His profligate behaviour eventually alienates them all with a truly shocking result. Claustrophobic,alternately gloomy then harshly - lit,"Our mother's house" is a film about children for adults. Uniformly well - acted,it is dominated by Mr Bogarde who steals it effortlessly without ever seeming to.He upstages nobody,doesn't appear until 45 minutes into the film,but brings about such a change of direction as to leave one breathless.It is a brilliantly selfless performance that deserves to be far better - known. I unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone looking for some British movie a bit outside the box.
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A VERY unusual household
kijii3 November 2016
Our Mother's House is a strange movie. Almost the entire movie takes place within one contemporary English house and hinges on seven closely-aged children, all totally devoted to their deeply religious mother.

When their mother dies near the beginning of the movie, the children decide to bury her in the garden and live off of her pension checks which arrive regularly. One of the children, Jiminee (Mark Lester), learns how to forge his mother's signature to cash the pension checks. The children soon release the housekeeper, Elsa (Margaret Leclere), so that they can live alone without adult supervision.

Even though they continue to go to school, none of them mentions that there is no adult in the house. Whenever this strange family of children needs counseling from an adult, one of the young girls, Diana (Pamela Franklin) is able to channel her in a backyard room that they call "the tabernacle."

All the children seem to know about their mother's absentee husband, Charlie Hook (Dirk Bogarde), but no one seems to want to contact him until he is absolutely needed. Bogarde only has a small amount of time on screen, but it is one of his the most unusual roles.
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Not available to rent, but still haunts Cable
oyoukid17 October 2006
True this movie is close to a classic but it's so darkly chilling and gloomy that it was hard to tolerate. The performances of some of the kids were so intense that I wonder how they were effected. Talk about child actors spiraling downward. That poor little Gerty must be a basket case. One reviewer shares my sentiments in perceptively calling 'Our Mother's House' an "ancestor of 'The Cement Garden'." As a child my daughter was traumatized when I took her to see 'Cement Garden' and she still reminds me that it damaged her psyche. So, despite excellent portrayals by talented, professional young actors I would advise against exposing children, even horror/thriller jaded kids of today, to this dark, creepy story.
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Great old film that gets better towards the end
carlin473719 January 2004
I really liked this old sixties film, im not a big fan of films with just children in, so i could easily of turned this off half way through the film but im glad i didnt. Set in an old large London house, for the early parts of the film the kids of left alone to be kids, but the films gets interesting when Charlie Hook played by Dirk Bogarde turns up. The kids behaviour gets worse and the story line picks up. It might be obvious not long after he turns up what he is after but its still a good film. Night as good as "Night Of The Hunter" which it made me think of.

Yootha Joyce is more well known for George and Mildred and it always interesting for me to see actors more well known for TV sit-com rolls working in a film.

Try and see this if you can
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A picture of childhood
With his plot between a terror movie and a fairy tale this film depict a wide vision on the infancy, its ghosts and joys, its melancholy. The performing of the children is very remarkable, even though the child interpretation is good in most of films. The photography and music bring to our memory something of the time lost of our early days. The movie is full of observations on the child psychology and in my opinion is a picture of every childhood. Although the children in the movie had a terrible infancy everybody could recognize his own fears and his own emotional lacks, and above all the ever-terrible relationship between the children and the adults. As Lord of the flies, William Golding's novel, this is an insight over the childhood that can change the way we saw and remember it (in Lord of the flies over the adolescence too). But in this case the cruelty and unhappiness of the children are balanced by their joy and almost infinite capacity of forgiving. I am surprised by the very bad known the movie is, for it is not mentioned in the histories of cinema I know and neither in the encyclopedias.
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Another effective, frightener from Jack Claton
David Spalding5 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Having only seen the last fifteen minutes on a rare TCM broadcast, the film is unmistakably the work of a master, Jack Clayton. He'd already directed the classic The Innocents (1961) with Deborah Kerr. Later he'd direct the cult favorite, Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983). He only directed ten films, but his deft touch is recognizable.

The impending suspense and doom as the child question their father isn't relieved by the climax ... one has no idea what will happen but it will be a shock. The great films maintain such suspense and the greatest films pay off without seeming cheap. One day, we can only hope, one day this will be shared in a DVD release.
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It keeps you guessing and keeps you surprised
AlsExGal26 November 2016
The chronically ill mother of seven children dies, and they decide to bury her secretly in the garden so that they are not separated and adopted out to different families. I don't know, maybe they had watched "All Mine to Give" on the telly and have seen how this kind of thing can go, but above all they do not want to be separated.

I found the first half to be painfully slow with all these very, very earnest child actors. Things pick up considerably at roughly the one hour point when charming but roguish Dirk Bogarde shows up and hams it up all over the place as the long absentee father. I thought if that one girl hadn't been so uptight about everything, the kids could have had a pretty kick-butt, bohemian life with Charlie. Car rides in the country. Trips to parks and zoos. Music to wiggle to, Playboys lying around, and very little parental supervision, plenty of free time to one's self while Dad was having his parties.

But ... this didn't turn out to be a frothy comedy about the return of a long-absent, free-wheeling dad and the positive effect he had on his dour little children. Within five seconds of Bogarde appearing on screen, I was 99 per cent sure what his fate was going to be, and that eventually he would have to be outed as a total louse to make what happens to him more palatable for the audience. So, the film was pretty predictable in that regard.

Otherwise, there were a few highlights to recommend here and there: the scenes where the one girl may or may not have been channeling her mother's spirit were effectively creepy. One high-ick factor scene with disturbing incestuous implications (or maybe not, if what Bogarde reveals late in the movie was true). An unexpected moment of joy when the kids realize they can access their mother's savings accounts and their lives aren't going to have to be Dickensian after all.

This is a good psychological and atmospheric film, and I'd recommend it.
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Stylish drama of kids running a household.
rmax30482310 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
There are half a dozen or so children in this English household, ranging in age from about five to about seventeen. Their mother dies and they bury her in the garden. They get along on their own, cashing her pension checks and hoarding the four hundred pounds she left for a rainy day. "Mother's house" is a shack in the yard where the children retire to hold séances with Mom so she can tell them what to do.

This can't go on, of course. Mothers don't just disappear. A teacher inquires at the house, her questions abrupt and demanding, and at the last minute the situation is saved by the appearance of their estranged father, Dirk Bogarde. (Or not saved, depending on your point of view.) Bogarde deserted their mother years ago and he's never seen the kids before, but he takes over the house, plays games with both the kids and the horses, and everyone seems to be having a jolly good time. Mother's house is neglected. So is the Big House. So are the financial circumstances, as Bogarde taps happily into the nest egg, drinks gallons of booze every day, and has his girl friends stay over at night, much to the kids' chagrin.

When the money begins to dry up, Bogarde instigates a mortgage on the house. On top of that he begins to weary of the responsibility of caring for the little brats, even Diana (Pamela Franklin), who is old enough to appreciate his masculinity and has developed an adolescent affection for him.

On a particularly bad hair day, he sells all the furniture and tchotchkas in Mother's house, tells them he hates them all, that everything including the house belongs to him, that there mother was nothing more than a whore, and that they were all conceived not by him but by a variety of her guests.

Pretty rotten of him, but that's about as far as he gets before Pamela Franklin bashes in his head with a poker. They sadly come to their senses, pack their bags, and leave in the rain. Where did he say that orphanage was, again? These stories of kids trying sub rosa to grow up on their own seem to pop up with irregular frequency. I'm not sure of all the titles but I think they include "The Railway Children," "Don't Tell Mom, The Babysitter's Dead," "The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane," and a few others. Others are simulacra: "Secret Ceremony," "Lord of the Flies," "Walkabout." This example has a good performance by Dirk Bogarde as the miscreant Daddy, and some surprisingly effective acting from some of the children, especially (but not limited to) the older two girls -- Margaret Brooks and Pamela Franklin. Generally speaking, children in movies should be struck until they ring, like gongs. But when they deliver, they're awe inspiring. How does a kid who is only, say, eleven years old learn to do a decent imitation of another eleven-year-old human being? The performances are all fine but the story itself is a little sluggish. It's worth watching once, for the reasons mentioned, but probably not worth owning.
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