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Tam Lin (1970)

The Ballad of Tam Lin (original title)
PG-13 | | Horror, Mystery | September 1972 (USA)
Based on an ancient Scottish folk song, an older woman uses witchcraft to keep her young jet-set friends.


Roddy McDowall


William Spier (original screenplay)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ava Gardner ... Michaela Cazaret
Ian McShane ... Tom Lynn
Richard Wattis ... Elroy
Cyril Cusack ... Vicar Julian Ainsley
Stephanie Beacham ... Janet Ainsley
David Whitman David Whitman ... Oliver
Fabia Drake ... Miss Gibson
Sinéad Cusack ... Rose (as Sinead Cusack)
Joanna Lumley ... Georgia
Jenny Hanley ... Caroline
Madeline Smith ... Sue
Bruce Robinson ... Alan
Victoria Fairbrother ... Vanna (as Pamela Farbrother)
Rosemary Blake Rosemary Blake ... Kate
Michael Bills Michael Bills ... Michael


Based on the ancient Scottish ballad "Tam Lin" (one of it's many titles), the plot concerns an aging, beautiful woman who uses her wealth (and occasionally, witchcraft) to control a decadent pack of attractive young people she surrounds herself with. But when her latest young stud falls for the local vicar's daughter, she vows revenge. Written by phillindholm

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


the story of a kind of woman few people even exist... See more »


Horror | Mystery

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sexuality/nudity, thematic elements, violence and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


This is the only film directed by Roddy McDowall. See more »

Alternate Versions

A newly recut version of this movie has been released. This movie wasn't originally conceived as a horror film. It was altered by American International after they got the rights to it. The new version has restored the original vision that Roddy Mcdowall had for the film. See more »


Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! (2005) See more »


The Best Part of You
Written by Bert Jansch, Jacqui McShee, Terry Cox, John Renbourn and Danny Thompson
Performed by Pentangle
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User Reviews

A macabre gem
4 January 2001 | by macnemoSee all my reviews

Based on Robert Burns' version of the Scottish folk tale "The Ballad of Tamlin," this modest but mesmerizing 1971 thriller concerns a young man, Tom Lynn ( Ian McShane), who becomes the romantic prisoner of an evil enchantress Michaela Cazaret ( Ava Gardner ). In a particularly arrestingly eerie and phantasmagorical set piece during which Tom, stoned out of his mind, is pursued by murderous acolytes of the bewitching Miss Cazaret, McDowall effectively punctuates the story's fairy tale quality with an entirely harmonious nightmarish and hallucinogenic tone that forever reflects the psychedelic sixties. McDowall's laudably creative panache as a filmmaker was embellished by a seductive performance from his star Ava Gardner. Though past her prime, she is nonetheless sultrily convincing as the irresistible, vampiric dominatrix insatiably commanding her hapless lovers to their eagerly desired doom.

Tam Lin (aka The Devil's Widow ) was also McDowall's solo directorial effort. Based on the splendid result (especially the aforementioned set piece), it was a great pity that Roddy did not pursue a career as a film director because - as with Charles Laughton, who blessed us with his only turn as a director, the superb "The Night of the Hunter" - he possessed a definite flair as a filmmaker. Produced in 1969, his film sat on the shelf for two years. In 1971, McDowall returned to his film to do some post-production work on it but 'twas all for naught because it was poorly distributed and sank into relative obscurity. In 1998 Republic Home Video, in collaboration with Martin Scorsese and McDowall, restored "Tam Lin" and rescued it from oblivion by releasing a stunningly superb widescreen print with an introduction by McDowall.

I highly recommend this stylishly directed and unjustly neglected gem to lovers of the macabre and mysterious. To all such, I strongly encourage you to seek it out.

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Release Date:

September 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Devil's Widow See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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