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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:

Don Siegel (as Donald Siegel)

Writers:

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

Cast overview, first billed only:
Clint Eastwood ... John McBurney
Geraldine Page ... Martha
Elizabeth Hartman ... Edwina
Jo Ann Harris ... Carol
Darleen Carr ... Doris
Mae Mercer Mae Mercer ... Hallie
Pamelyn Ferdin ... Amy
Melody Thomas Scott ... Abigail (as Melody Thomas)
Peggy Drier Peggy Drier ... Lizzie
Patricia Mattick Patricia Mattick ... Janie (as Pattye Mattick)
Charlie Briggs Charlie Briggs ... 1st Confederate Captain (as Charles Briggs)
George Dunn George Dunn ... Sam Jefferson
Charles G. Martin ... 2nd Confederate Captain (as Charles Martin)
Matt Clark ... 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 Mississippi 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:

One man...seven women...in a strange house! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

28 May 1971 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

El engaño See more »

Filming Locations:

Louisiana, USA See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

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

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Malpaso Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Don Siegel says in his biography that he forbade the use of make-up by the actresses on the set. But some of them trespassed the order and put on some mascara, lipstick and nail polish. That of course made Siegel angry. See more »

Goofs

As Carol leaves the gazebo after Edwina arrives, she has to run a good distance to get to the tree where the blue rag is kept to alert patrols to "yanks", but when McB hears horses, he can see the front gate from the gazebo. See more »

Quotes

Edwina: Oh. Oh, I can't. Not like this. Not without being sure. Maybe, maybe when the war's over. Its just that I never have before. Don't be angry.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The leg amputation scene was edited by the censors for the film's original UK cinema release. Later releases were uncut and rated 15. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Reflections of Evil (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Dove She is a Pretty Bird
(uncredited)
Traditional
Performed by Clint Eastwood
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Had to have been scandalous for its time.
3 December 2006 | by TOMASBBloodhoundSee all my reviews

During the brief period between Clint Eastwood's string of spaghetti westerns and his Dirty Harry films, he and director Don Siegel teamed up to make this unusual picture. Eastwood plays an injured Union Army corporal during the Civil War who is taken in by a southern school for girls until he recovers from his wounds. It has been a while since the young women (most of which seem to be teenagers) have had a man on the premises, so they are reluctant to turn him in to the local rebel soldiers. The resulting situations are often humorous, shocking, erotic, or even downright grotesque as Eastwood slowly regains his strength and begins to brood over the establishment.

The basic storyline almost sounds like the makings of a porno film. We have a masculine male suddenly surrounded by young nubile women. Most of them are sexually attracted to him. And he is more than willing to spread the love amongst them. The material never really slips down to the level of "tasteless", however. Eastwood, Siegel, and cinematographer Bruce Surtees are such skilled filmmakers, that the film always retains its dignity.

Eastwood's John McBurney is like no other character he has ever played. McBurney is an amoral, conniving, and lustful charlatan. He knows that most of the women, even the youngest want his bod, and he lets more than one of them have a shot at him. McBurney often uses flattery to butter the women up, then uses his rugged good looks to reel them in. He is like a drunken player at a cocktail party, often hitting on different women even in the same scene! Eventually, his lustful ways cause him great agony and loss in a way you must see for yourselves. This author would not dream of revealing the specific consequences of his actions, but there is little doubt he has them coming.

Eastwood gives a typically great performance. He seems to be having a blast with the role until things turn really ugly, then he turns mean and ugly. Geraldine Page is a treat as the steely B*tch who runs the school. We know she wants McBurney as much as the other girls, but with her checkered past shown to us in flashbacks, we find out that isn't all she's after! Mae Mercer as a slave belonging to the school gives a great performance, too. She obviously knows McBurney is a skunk from the beginning, and she never lets his phony charm bring her guard down. This is a character you will want to know more about after the film is over. She seems to have a greater knowledge of the world than anyone else in the film.

The Beguiled did poorly in its theatrical release. Nobody was quite sure what to make of it, and some of its content no doubt raised a few eyebrows in 1971. For example, in an early scene we see Eastwood romantically kiss a 12-yr-old girl. Is he just trying to keep her quiet when the rebel soldiers get close, or is he really enjoying it? Probably both! A fantasy sequence later on even shows Clint getting it on with not only Page, but her young assistant! Truly some interesting goings on in this one. It's a good thing Eastwood became the star he did, or this one might have been long forgotten.

Highly recommended. 9 of 10 stars.

The Hound.


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