The Beguiled (1971) Poster

(1971)

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9/10
Had to have been scandalous for its time.
TOMASBBloodhound3 December 2006
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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10/10
A creepy tale of Gothic horror and deception
ClassicAndCampFilmReviews31 December 2004
"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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7/10
Under-rated Civil War Gem!
shepardjessica-113 December 2004
This Don Siegel/Clint Eastwood strange and hypnotic drama was left by the wayside in 1971 and what a pity. A fascinating character study with some great women for Squint to deal with. Geraldine Page was one of our supreme actresses and she's perfectly cast. Young Jo Ann Harris is a flirty minx, and Elizabeth Hartman (who died too young) is undeniably repressed.

A 7 out of 10. Best performance = C. Eastwood. Released the same year as DIRTY HARRY, this did no business, beside getting some good reviews. Seek this out unless you're only into "Explosion" films. Very subtle and frightening, this piece will stick with you.
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an overlooked treasure
Pookie-108 April 1999
Anybody who hasn't seen this film is truly missing something special. Though it may not necessarily be for everyones tastes. This film may possibly break more 'sexual taboos' than any other, and it is another wonderful example of the early 70's trend of high creativity and barrier's being broken like no other time. It is haunting and unusual, both erotic and disturbing. Lalo Schifrin's music is superbly "dreamy" and dark, the photography and imagery are equally so. A very intelligent, groundbreaking inventive film.
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7/10
Great Actress Roles
gottogorunning13 August 2005
Another well done moral ambiguity pieces where the anti-hero makes it hard to decide who to root for.

If nothing else "The Beguiled" silenced anyone who said there were no good parts for actresses in movies-at least in 1971. There were four excellent parts for actresses in this film and all were well cast and well executed.

Pamelyn Ferdin did a fine job as Amy and would go on to play "Wanda June". This must have been the first time an adult male box office star shared an extended kiss with a twelve-year-old girl on camera, wonder if there was much controversy about this at the time. It was probably Polanski's favorite scene. Given the fate of Amy's turtle "Randolph", it is no surprise that Ferdin grew up to be a hardcore animal rights activist.

Geraldine Page was likewise excellent, playing a complex character with just the right amount of restraint. It is interesting that she died just three days after Elizabeth Hartman committed suicide (throwing herself through a fifth floor window) as they had also worked together in "You're a Big Boy Now".

Hartman (who looks like she could be Blair Brown's sister) was wonderful as Edwina and should have gotten an Oscar (no other performance was even close that year), but given what we now know about her you wonder just how much of her performance was a studied effort and how much just came from inside her. Edwina shows such raw pain it is difficult to watch. Like Marilyn Monroe's incredible performance in "The Misfits", the viewer is probably seeing a whole lot of her own demons in the character she is playing.

Finally there is Jo Ann Harris who is stunningly perfect as the flirty Carol. For my money Harris was the sexiest actress of the 1970's, combining sensuality with intelligence and humor. She was the best reason to watch the "Most Wanted" television series and the only reason to watch "Wild Wild West Revisited". Hard to believe that someone who could bring all that to the screen never became a big star.
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10/10
Deliciously erotic, disturbingly macabre
devalier13 May 1999
Clever psychosexual drama about a wounded Union soldier (Clint Eastwood) who seeks refuge in an isolated Confederate school for young women during the Civil War. Slowly, Eastwood begins to seduce every girl in sight, until the tables are turned and he becomes the pursued in an unsettling, gothic-toned finale. Never has a film been so deliciously erotic yet disturbingly macabre at the same time.

This is undoubtedly Eastwood's finest hour (those who tune in for "Dirty Harry" will indeed be surprised), while the rest of the cast gives uniformly superb performances. Try to see the film on video, as television prints usually delete crucial flashback scenes between Geraldine Page and Patrick Culliton.
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7/10
Outlandish and well made story set in Civil War South about a wounded soldier who arrives in a girls' school
ma-cortes18 November 2017
During the Civil War an injured corporal , Clint Eastwood , is taken by the women of a girls' school to recuperate himself . As the Southern school is run by a housekeeper , Geraldine Page , and there appears a teacher : Elizabeth Hartman and six students and an African-American servant . The soldier becomes the catalyst for twisted situations with incidents full of hatred and jealousy among its inhabitants . He arranges to seduce both , a pupil -Jo Ann Harris- and a teacher -Elizabeth Hartman , but things go wrong.

Offbeat , rare and well paced psychological melodrama by the great team formed by Eastwood and Siegel , though disappointed the spectators faithful to his ordinary action films . Maybe the stranger , yet spellbinding combination of two genius -Clint and Donald- ever made , being based on the 1966 novel , "The Painted Devil" by Thomas P. Cullinan . The flick soon develops into a kind of full blood drama , smouldering with intrigue , suspense , tragic events and suppressed passions ; and all of them lead to an unpredictable and startling conclusion . Clint gives a nice acting as a squinty-eyed soldier who arrives in a seminary for young ladies and who soon reveals his opportunist nature . Excellent interpretation from Geraldine Page as zealous ruler , she is a fading Southern woman , brooding over the past , and Elizabeth Hartman as a naive South belle who falls for Eastwood .

Atmospheric and attractive musical score by Lalo Schifrin , including song sung by Clint Eastwood himself . Colorful and evocative cinematography by Bruce Surtees . This daring change of pace for director Donald Siegel was compellingly and methodically made . Being an unusual Donald fare , but for patient audiences a rewarding , rich movie and Siegel's favorite of all his movies . However , being commercially a failure because Universal Studios released it with advertisements that suggested it was an action movie . Siegel directed good films of all kinds of genres as Invasion of body snatchers , Madigan , Charley Varrick , The Shootist , Ríot in cell Block 11 , Flaming star , Big steal , Black Windmill , Private hell , Rough cut , and a lot of movies starred by Eastwood as Escape from Alcatraz , Two mules for Sister Sarah , Coogan's bluff and Dirty Harry
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A Study in Suppressed Sexuality
Paul-2506 May 1999
This powerful drama centering around the effect which the arrival of a wounded civil war soldier has on a house full of women is probably Don Siegel's finest achievement, and is yet another example of Eastwood's willingness to break new ground and tackle new genres. It is also, perhaps, the finest acting performance of his career. His presence in the house releases not only deeply repressed sexual urges in the women who are helping him to recover from his wounds, but a sexually competitive frenzy which becomes ever more dangerous and frightening.
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8/10
One of Eastwood's very few "horror" flicks....
gridoon16 November 2001
.....and it's a good one, too. In fact, this may be one of the best studies of sexual repression ever made. It's extremely well-acted and has some downright chilling moments. An often overlooked film in Clint Eastwood's filmography, and atypical of him, to be sure, but if you're willing to accept him in such an ambiguous role, it's certainly very gripping. (***)
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10/10
The Beguiled: Gothic cinema at its best
yal-36 April 2009
This movie is not what it appears to be. Clint Eastwood is not Dirty Harry or a "cowboy" here. The movie's appeal comes from its careful manipulation of atmosphere and theme. It's a Gothic tale set in the Civil War and as such all the film's "action", or lack thereof, takes place inside a house populated by Southern Belles of all ages and shapes.

The horror comes from viewing the whole story through the eyes of the Clint Eastwood character. Seeing him stranded in the house and held captive by the women is a very "beguiling" experience indeed. And who is "beguiled" here exactly? Are the women beguiled by Eastwood's incredible looks? Are we, the viewers, beguiled by both his sexual allure and the potential deviant sexualities it unleashes? Or does "beguiled" refer to what the director does here-- holds us enthralled for a short space only to (maybe)let us go? Don Siegel does all of the above in one of the most memorable and disturbing films I had the pleasure of watching.
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An oddball gem.
k_rkeplar10 August 2004
Clint Eastwood in a soap opera? You bet! Gothic melodrama is what a real critic would most likely call it. Wounded Yankee soldier Eastwood is rescued from the field by several southern school girls. He finds himself in an isolated all girls school surrounded by young ladies from about 10 years old up to the middle aged school mistress. Kinky! Crushes and jealousy kick in as Eastwood attempts to get as much mileage out of his situation as he can. He's a nasty man, but these are some nasty girls. I remember when this came out at the drive-in. No one really knew what to make of it. A few months later "Dirty Harry" was released and this out of step Clint Eastwood movie just disappeared. That's a shame. It's something really different. Directed by Eastwood's longtime collaborater Don Segal, the film has a highly stylized look and feel to it. It's just plain creepy and that feeling never lets up. There are no good guys or bad guys, just nasty people trying to take advantage of other nasty people who in turn grow nastier and nastier as the movie progresses. It doesn't cover all the ground the book did. (I read it during a tour of jury duty some years ago.) But it moves at a good pace and it's sometimes complicated plot stays reasonable easy to follow. (The book was very hard to keep straight!) Creepy and nasty and very different. Well worth a look, especially by Eastwood fans.
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6/10
Despite Everything THE BEGUILED Works Very Well
Theo Robertson7 August 2004
THE BEGUILED is indeed a memorable movie , but when you think about it in any great detail this should have been a disaster of a movie

1 ) There are no likable characters . Think about it , Eastwood's anti hero is a bush-wacker while the girls - Some of whom are serious jail bait - are hypocrits . Who are we supposed to be cheering for ?

2 ) Nothing much happens

3 )The downbeat ending . Everyone loves happy endings right ? Just think how regarded THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION wouldn't have been if it wasn't for the feel good factor

4 ) You could see this being marketed as a western when it was released and still being marketed as such every time it's shown on television and all the western fans being disappointed when they find out it's not a western

And yet THE BEGUILED works because of these things . Eastwood is hardly the most versatile actor in the history of Hollywood but he's most impressive here while the supporting cast shine . Don Siegel direction is very restrained , some people might say the directing is flat and they wouldn't be entirely inaccurate and that's by no means a criticism but he does concentrate on a slightly brooding atmosphere

Perhaps the reason this movie works so well is down to the timing of its production . By the early 1970s conservative Hollywood was finally waking up to new ideas and new themes even though there was still reluctance by the studios to go over board . The movie is blatantly about repressed sexual desire but there's no explict sex . Can you imagine this being remade today with Brad Pitt playing the Union soldier who stumbles into the girls school with 19 year old starlets with implants playing 15 year olds ? Now that would be a disaster

As it is THE BEGUILED is a haunting story worthy of Poe or Ambrose Bierce and shouldn't be remade
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7/10
American (Civil War) Gothic
Lejink28 January 2012
Downbeat, yet at times almost Gothic in its evocation of atmosphere, this is a disquieting but involving drama based around the unusual premise of a wounded Union soldier being taken in at a private school for girls of the southern, confederate persuasion.

Clint Eastwood is the duplicitous soldier who takes advantage of the miss lonely hearts who duly line up for his attentions and from an uncharismatic start, develops into a more complex character who too late repents of his dark side and that he might have been kinder to animals (especially pet turtles) as well as the woman-folk who come his way.

The film is certainly condescending towards women with three of the adults (if 17 counts as an adult) and a young child all smitten with Eastwood's handsome cripple. Eastwood's soldier, on the other hand, perhaps goes too much to extremes and could perhaps have been shown to be a bit more sympathetic, but it was a brave decision for him to play a character who on the surface compliments his hostesses eloquently, but on the other hand has no compunction about bedding any of them who take his fancy.

Director Don Seigel lets situations develop at their own pace and the characterisations to deepen as they go, perhaps over-egging the narrative with the lurid back-stories of the headmistress played by Geraldine Page and the female black slave, but I liked the Gothic touches of heightened passions with characters voicing their thoughts while the mordant conclusion is appropriately unsensational and unheroic.

There's a thin line of good taste which Seigel has to negotiate and apart from an early shocking scene when Eastwood escapes detection by a Confederate patrol to set up the film's first and in the end most significant infatuation and a later "menage-a-quatre" dream sequence, he skirts around it adroitly. Beautifully shot, well paced and excellently acted by all the actors, this film strikes me as one of Clint Eastwood's best, all the better for being so far off the beaten track.
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"Good bread, good meat, good God let's eat." McBurney's blessing.
TxMike6 December 2017
I watched this at home on a DVD set of 7 Clint Eastwood movies from my public library. Seeing this was especially timely because 2017 saw the remake of this movie. Pretty much the same story in each, with minor character changes, with pretty much the same ending.

Having seen both of them within a month I can say this 1971 version is clearly the more interesting movie. Part of that is Eastwood as the injured Union soldier taken in by the ladies and girls of a school in plantation Louisiana. We've seen him in so many action roles we sometimes forget what a good actor he is.

The outdoor scenes were filmed south of Baton Rouge at Belle Helene plantation in Geismar, Louisiana, built in the 1840s. In more recent times, the 1990s, the plantation was bought by Shell Chemical Company and restored. Most interior scenes were filmed on a set in California.

Clint Eastwood is the injured Union soldier, John McBurney, a duplicitous man. By use of brief flashbacks we see that he lies to the ladies about his past. He is a coward and wants to heal and stay at the school as a handyman until the Civil War is over. He ends up leading most of the ladies and older girls on, pretending he loves each one.

Geraldine Page is really good as the school mistress, Martha. As well as Elizabeth Hartman who was the teacher, Edwina. (Tragically Hartman suffered from depression and killed herself not many years later by jumping off a building.) As well as Jo Ann Harris, about 20 during filming, as 17-yr-old vixen Carol, aggressively pursuing McBurney's affections.

This original version of the story is much more sinister and works better than the remake, but the ending is very similar in each.
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8/10
...like a woman scorned. And another... and another... and another...
dunmore_ego23 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Estrogen overload! Clint Eastwood fights for his life behind enemy lines! Yes, he's trapped in a school full of women!

BEGUILED finds wounded Union soldier John McBurney (Eastwood) seeking refuge at a Confederate home for girls, led by spinster Martha (Geraldine Page), who, against her better judgment, tends to his wounds and allows him to recover in hiding in her girls' home. And every female within sniffing distance - from 50-year-old Martha to the 19-year-old virgin, to the 16-year-old slut to the 10-year-old innocent - wants a piece o' dat beef Clint-cake!

McBurney encourages every flirtation with that twinkle in his eye and a never-ending stream of compliments for all the women on his oh-so-kissable lips. Even the cynical black slave gets it into her head that she can get her a piece of that action.

Of course, McBurney is playing them all, planning to desert his regiment and sit out the war in their figurative and literal embrace.

Any other actor in the role of McBurney, this would have been a somber drama of obsession and womanly retribution. But because it's Clint, it's dangerously hilarious, as he spreads his man-musk with that Philo Beddoe charm. We always knew that anyone who could burn down so many men would be a master juggler of women.

McBurney's constant stream of lies and false promises would be his undoing. He tells Martha he was wounded carrying an enemy soldier to safety, while in fact he was sniping; he promises to run away with No.19 (Elizabeth Hartman), then accepts the lecherous advances of No.16 (Jo Ann Harris); he promises innocent love to No.10 (Pamelyn Ferdin), then smashes her turtle against a wall. And when Martha's fantasies of sliding her aged skin against that taut chest are dashed by discovering No.16 in his bed, it's hell from so many angles at once that no man - not even The Man's Man Clint - can withstand its emasculative fury.

The most amazing aspect of BEGUILED is that it's filled with women and doesn't get screechy or intolerable. Yet it is scarier than any horror movie with its castration allegory - for the sake of petty scorn. And never has an allusion to Michelangelo's Pieta been so hot hot threesome hot.

There are no shots fired and no bombastic battle scenes, even though it's set during the American Civil War. Revenge doesn't have to be a mushroom cloud, it can just be... mushrooms...

From the novel by Thomas Cullinan, BEGUILED is a study in betrayal, and director Don Siegel not only paces it with a solid mix of tension, pathos and black humor, he fits the female cast perfectly to their roles - from Page's yearning spinster (with a very dirty secret), to Hartman's naive nineteen-year-old with the chaste romantic fantasies, to Harris's teen slut with the upturned nose, upturned lips and upturned breasts. (I think we have a winner...)
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8/10
Eastwood plays against type
Tweekums26 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It is hard to know what category to put this film in, most films set in this time period of US history are westerns but here instead of the wide open plains of the west the action is almost entirely confined to a claustrophobic girls boarding school in Louisiana.

The film opens with Amy, a young girl, walking though the woods picking mushrooms, as she does so she stumbles upon Corporal John 'McBee' McBurney, a wounded Union soldier, who she takes back to the school. We know that he isn't a particularly nice person when he kisses her on the lips to distract her from alerting a passing Confederate patrol even though she told him she was twelve.

Once back at the school opinions are divided about what should be done with their new guest, some think they should look after him till his wounds are healed while others believe that it is treason not to hand him over to Confederate forces at the first opportunity. The former group prevail and he gradually recovers. As he does so his presence has an effect on all of the girls who haven't had a man on site for a long time, including a young teacher and the head mistress who's previous relationship appears to have been with her own brother. McBee sets about seducing them, emotionally if not physically, this leads to considerable jealousy amongst the girls.

While this film is rated fifteen it is definitely not for younger viewers both for the sexual content, of which little is actually shown but much is implied, and for a very gruelling scene which had me squirming more than any other scene in any film I've seen for quite some time. It is interesting to see Clint Eastwood play against type, instead of being heroic his character is both unpleasant and for most of the time at the mercy of the women around him. The acting is solid throughout, not just from Eastwood but also from all the actresses, including the young Pamelyn Ferdin who played Amy.
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7/10
a well done and captivating psychological drama
Jeliosjelios30 December 2010
A wounded man lives in a boarding school for girls. It sounds like a very pleasant situation for a man. Not necessarily the Yankee Corporal Mac Burney will learn it the hard way.

This film may seem slow and soft by the lack of action and major events, but he'll be rich as a psychological drama.

With the backdrop of American Civil War, it looks at first, essential concepts such as patriotism against the human duty, slavery and freedom and then soak and sink, without the viewer being aware account, into the climate of the school, who, to protect the war is turning in on itself and lives in near self-sufficiency.

The temptation, love, jealousy, hatred, manipulation, patriotism, all this concept lead us to something strong, disturbing and unexpected. Like Corporal northerner McBurney, we are gradually drawn into the negative atmosphere and everything seems to shrink as trapped in the boarding school and its occupants.

A well-made film, with a team that is now well known and confirmed her talent, we just mentioned the most famous talents Eastwood, Don Siegel, Lalo Schifrin for music ... After 'Coogan' bluff and psychology more in-depth with "The Beguiled " we looking forward to the next movie of this team ..." Dirty Harry "...

A well done psychological drama and suspense, we can feel a very good Hitchcock spirit, or touch, that fully confirmed by the next film of Eastwood "Play misty for me".

Jelios

Jelios@hotmail.fr
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8/10
Siegel's favourite, and it isn't difficult to see why
tomgillespie200225 October 2017
As the opening titles of The Beguiled flicker by with a collection of grainy photographs from the brutal American Civil War, it would seem we're in familiar tough, manly action territory, especially when the names of Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood flash on screen. These feelings appear to be confirmed as Eastwood grizzled Union officer John McBurney comes into shot, clearly wounded and hanging on for dear life following a bloody battle with Confederate soldiers. He is discovered by Amy (Pamelyn Ferdin), a 12 year old student at the nearby Seminary for Young Ladies, who quickly takes a keen interest in the handsome but battered young man. As some bloodthirsty Confederate soldiers trot by and they are forced to hide, John plants a lingering kiss on the child's mouth, which immediately cause feelings of discomfort for the viewer. No, The Beguiled is not your typical Siegel tough-guy actioner, but something all the more fascinating and complex.

John is eventually smuggled back into the school run by Miss Martha Farnsworth (Geraldine Page), a woman with a secretive past of her own. She wants the Union soldier gone immediately, but the soldier is charming and badly wounded, so she and the fellow ladies of the school tend to his injured leg and give him a bed. He is kept under lock and key, but he is often visited by the curious ladies, including virginal teacher Edwina (Elizabeth Hartman) and precocious 17 year old student Carol (Jo Ann Harris). With Martha still insistent on turning him over to Confederate troops once he has regained his strength, John seizes the chance to seduce as many of them as he can, taking full advantage of their time away from men and natural curiosity towards the opposite sex. He becomes unnervingly comfortable with his methods of manipulation, and is soon playing the women off one another. But these ladies have seen it all before, whether it be a father, a sibling or a drunken soldier stumbling onto the school grounds with cruel intentions.

The Beguiled is a film about jealousy, sexuality and bitterness, so it's no surprise that it flopped and didn't go down well with fans of Siegel's tougher, more straight-laced output. The film also threatens to venture into horror territory, as emotions begin to spill over and John's scheming becomes apparent. There were cries of misogyny upon the film's release, but although the claim is certainly open for debate, this is not a film by a director who hates women. To label the film misogynist would be to cruelly over- simplify it, as the likes of Martha and Edwina aren't just coy women to be easily taken advantage of, but incredibly complex characters both scarred and enlightened by past experiences with men. John is clearly the most loathsome character, an evil man who uses his physicality and charm to worm his way into their lives and gain their trust, and Siegel makes little attempt to make him sympathetic. It's an incredibly claustrophobic and intense experience, with career-best performances from Page and Hartman. It is Siegel's favourite of his extensive filmography, and it isn't difficult to see why.
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7/10
This is an odd one
jjnxn-111 May 2013
By no means a typical Clint Eastwood movie this odd bordering on weird Civil War drama is worth viewing for the interesting collection of actresses assembled and its rather schizophrenic air of suppressed sexual hysteria. A definite mood piece that takes it's time getting were it going but not without interest or merit. Elizabeth Hartman didn't make many films but always had a distinctive presence, her intensity adds quite a bit to the overall tenor of this. Clint and the great Geraldine Page are an fascinating match although they apparently didn't hit it off too well behind the scenes leading to Miss Page's rather caustic quote "Yes I have acted with Clint Eastwood. Or rather, I have acted opposite Clint Eastwood."
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10/10
The Beguiled: Less than Guileless, More than a Nightmare
jkhuysmans01 January 2008
Let us assume for a moment that you haven't experimented with the psychotropic mushroom and you're wondering about the so called bad experience and just how something like that might play itself out… Well go ahead and pop in a fresh copy of The Beguiled. See, with film you have your clean trips (Solaris and anything else directed by Andrei Tarkovsky), whack trips, i.e. the experience-from-which-you-never-recover (Sweet Movie and El Topo), and you're bad organic trips, a category specifically reserved for a film like The Beguiled which is the sort of content those keen writers at the Times who made all the right decisions with their lives and graduated from the Harvard Department of English refer to as "hallucinogenic in tone." By the third act of this Don Siegel directed movie, you may not exactly observe that your two lead-heavy hands have become shrunken and assume all the characteristics of a burrowing insectivorous mammal, nor will you exactly fall under the suspicion that your spine has achieved the same sinuous shape and knotty texture of a pomaceous fruit baring tree incalculable in age, but you will feel something.

In 1970, when this film was filmed, most Americans were looking for an anodyne for their collective pain, a movie like The Graduate perhaps, a lot of world-endism was going on and, of course you had the nightmare break down of war in Vietnam. What you get with The Beguiled, banal drug metaphors aside, is a screenplay adapted from a novel by a guy who at least for the moment wanted to be known as Grimes Grice, and direction from the director who helped bring about the work and career of Sam Peckinpah. In the Beguiled, Donny Siegel, born in 12, Chicago, Il., less than 45 years after The Great Fire is showing his attempt at grappling with all that contemporary cultural madness of the early 1970's in the form of a classical film artifact. The Beguiled is an incredible film and an outstanding contribution to the cinematographic arts in almost every aspect: the shooting, editing, direction and story are all fantastic, and you're not likely to see anything else like it. Undoubtedly, a sinister film, its effects, as I've said, both dizzying and adulterating; frankly it's hard to believe would ever Universal attached its name to this picture, but you are going to see upon viewing some of the sweet, sweet camera moves, and cinematographer Bruce Surtees exploiting every bit of dark myth you harbor in your head about the American Plantation South, conflating beauty with evil in every location shot. Clint Eastwood, needless to say, has never been like this. Old Clint, he moves at instant from coy to livid, his eyes like two Archimedean spirals in medium close up. The rest of the cast is equally exacting and uncanny.

This Beguiled will never make the AFI 100 in my lifetime, but that doesn't stop me from positing that it's one of the best American synch sound films ever made. While most people catalogue it as a western, to include the folks at The Western Channel, The Beguiled is a problem because you don't really know what it is: A sort of war movie? A drama? Psychological thriller? Maybe the answer to all those emotionally wrought Noir films starring Kirk Douglas? I actually call this piece a horror film because when my old man, who likes to kick back with the cheap, gratuitous violence projected in entertainments like The Wire, saw that high angle medium long shot of Geraldine Page wrapping a tourniquet around Clint's bloody leg, Pa was pretty quick to suggest we watch something else like the Outback Bowl, right before he absconded to another room. My advice: watch this one, and make sure it is on a very large screen, preferably run on that DPL home theater projector you're contemplating. I would put The Beguiled right on order along with that important consumer purchase, turn the overheads out, throw some cinematic light up on the big blank wall, and try not to lose your grip because just like Norman Bates, "We all go a little mad sometimes," even the beguiled.
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10/10
In the house of women
drownnnsoda5 September 2016
"The Beguiled" follows John McBurney, a fallen Union soldier in the American Civil War who is reluctantly taken in at a rural girls' school in Mississippi. The headmistress, Martha, agrees to keep him there until his health has been restored. John begins to woo each of the women in the house, but his flirtations and manipulations land him in dangerous territory as the household begins to come apart at the seams.

Directed by frequent Eastwood collaborator Don Siegel ("Dirty Harry"), this little-seen but much- loved thriller is a potent blend of Southern Gothic and psychosexual drama. All of its strengths aside (and there are many), "The Beguiled" is one of those rare films that plays a variety of different ways without ever really committing itself to one. It could be read as a meditation on the war, a feminist parable, an outright horror film, or even all three (and more) at once. It never quite leans one way or the other; it's just as much a feminist film as it is anti-feminist; just as much horror as it is drama. The screenplay, based on Thomas Cullinan's novel, is left open-ended. What we have before us is ultimately a character study on sexuality and human desire, and the way it's read it depends on individual perspective.

The film begins with a haunting credit montage that plays over disturbing historical photos of the war. Sounds of horses, gunfire, and screaming narrate the credit sequence, which sets a tone of unease and instability from the first frame. The film is saturated with an oppressive Gothic atmosphere that underpins an array of situations between Eastwood and the women in the house— even the lighter (sometimes even darkly humorous) moments hint toward an impending reckless abandon. Moody cinematography accentuates the unease, and several haunting POV shots from Eastwood as he is carried by the women into the house (and later, into the dining room in one of the film's most famous and most violent scene) are unforgettable.

Eastwood, who made a career for himself as a hyper-masculine sex bomb in his early years, plays against character—here, he is physically helpless, resorting to emotional manipulation that eventually backfires. His performance is memorable, though his character, despite being the film's center, seems to be given far less screen time in comparison to the rest of the female cast. Geraldine Page gives one of the best performances of her career as the sexually repressed headmistress who has a questionable romantic history. Page is terrifying and at times sympathetic, but, like the film as a whole, can never quite be pinned down, and that's part of her brilliance. Elizabeth Hartman is fantastic as well as the meek schoolteacher who wins Eastwood's affections, and Jo Ann Harris plays a Civil War Lolita who is as devious as she is charming. Pamelyn Ferdin is also striking in her performance as the youngest of the girls, and the catalyst for what brings Eastwood into the house, and eventually, out of it

Overall, "The Beguiled" is something of an unsung classic. The strength of its performances alone is enough to warrant multiple viewings, but the ambiguity of its moral stance (if there even is one), and its candid yet dithering narrative make it an even more compelling watch. It's tense, hauntingly beautiful, and also downright unnerving in unexpected ways. Regardless of how it's read, the presentation is flawless. 10/10.
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10/10
Cunning and Crafty…Disturbing and Distinctive
LeonLouisRicci4 May 2015
Back Before Clint Eastwood succumbed to Over-Adulation and Unwarranted Praise He did His Best Work under the Tutelage of Good Director's like Sergio Leone and Don Siegel. Here between the Spaghetti Westerns and Dirty Harry came this Underseen and Under-appreciated Oddball Film.

A Sexy, Gothic, Horror Story set in the Civil War about a Wounded Soldier taken In by an All Girl's School who becomes the Center of Attention and the Outlet for Repressed Sexual Desires. Eastwood Plays the Villainous Viper for all its worth and Manipulates the Females Stroking Libido after Libido until All are Under His Spell. Or is it the Other Way Around?

This is a Disturbing and Daring Film that still Resonates and Repulses Today. A Forgotten Film that was a Flop among the more Categorical Output from Clint at the Time. It's an Art Film and has a Distinctive European Flavor.

The Movie Plays on the Edge from the very Beginning and it is an Ensemble of Effective Acting from All involved. Even Eastwood Stretching His ability to the limit Succeeds as His Lack of Talent is always Pulling Him back. That's a Testament to the Power of the Story and His Co-Stars.

Overall, a Very Distinctive One of a Kind for Eastwood, and even Director Don Siegel Stretches to make this a Unique Experience. Siegel says its His Favorite Directorial Effort. One can See why. It is so Demanding and Off Beat and Everyone involved Came Together to make this a Cunning and Crafty Picture. It is an Unsung and Obscure Gem.
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7/10
nice Gothic horror
SnoopyStyle8 November 2014
Young Amy finds injured union soldier Corporal John McBurney (Clint Eastwood). She takes him back to her boarding school run by Martha Farnsworth (Geraldine Page). The girls are fearful of the approaching war and the possible arrival of union soldiers. Martha decides to not turn him over to the Confederate patrols. Every female is stirred up by the arrival of McBurney. He's a charmer and a liar. Martha is both lustful and jealous. Carol (Jo Ann Harris) is a sexual 17 year old student. Edwina (Elizabeth Hartman) is the sweet innocent romantic teacher. Amy is completely infatuated with McBurney and keeps a pet turtle.

This movie has a natural Gothic romantic horror vibe. I really like the constant disturbed tone. It's a slightly different character that Eastwood is playing. The movie is playing to fear of a group of women destroying a man. I would prefer the school be much more isolated. More isolation would build up a greater sense of dread. The other possibility is to make capture a much more vicious affair. That way the dread is build up both outside the school as it slowly builds inside. Either way, the influences from the outside keep muddying up the creepy relationships in the house.
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8/10
Jo Ann Harris Is Gorgeous
slightlymad2213 March 2017
The Beguiled (1971)

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

One of my favourite non sequel/western Clint Eastwood movies and it was a total failure at the box office!! Universal inexplicably marketed it as an action flick, using an image with Clint holding a pistol on the poster, despite him not holding a pistol in the movie. We see him fire a rifle during a flashback, but that's it.

It's a slow burner, but Clint's performance is full of charm and it's well directed by Don Siegel too. Geraldine Page, Elizabeth Hartman and Pamelyn Ferdin all put in good performances, but it's the gorgeous, 17 year old Jo Anne Harris (who Clint had an affair with) who leaves the biggest impression as the teenage tease Carol.

Sadly, this movie didn't even gross $1 million at the domestic box office.
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8/10
A Missing Gem!
rspress31 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It took me years to finally catch this gem of a film and it was worth the wait. In nearly all of his films Clint always plays the hero. Be it hero, anti-hero or avenging hero. In this film he is pure villain and he plays it well.

As a wounded union soldier he is brought into a confederate girls school by the students and teachers to heal. Soon after he begins to seduce the ladies no matter their age and some are quite young. He also plays upon their jealousies and pits them against each other. In the end you are never so happy to see Clint die a terrible death.

That is what makes this film such a gem. Clint has never done any other film like it and after seeing this film you wish he had. He plays the role of the villain so well it will make you wonder why he never did any more films like it. It also explains why the film is not seen very often. Most people don't want to see Clint as the villain and with Dirty Harry being released shortly after this film it has become a hidden gem. If you are a Clint Eastwood fan you owe it to yourself to see this film. You might not like what you will see but you won't soon forget it.
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