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The Innocents (1961)

The Innocents DVD

bullet Full Cast and Crew for The Innocents (1961) bullet

bullet Directed by
Jack Clayton

bullet Writing credits
Henry James (novel - The Turn of the Screw)
John Mortimer (additional scenes & dialogue)
William Archibald and Truman Capote (screenplay)

bullet Cast (in credits order)
Deborah Kerr .... Miss Giddens
Peter Wyngarde .... Peter Quint
Megs Jenkins .... Mrs. Grose
Michael Redgrave .... The Uncle
Martin Stephens .... Miles
Pamela Franklin .... Flora
Clytie Jessop .... Miss Jessel
Isla Cameron .... Anna

bullet Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Eric Woodburn .... The coachman (uncredited)

bullet Produced by
Jack Clayton .... producer

bullet Original Music by
Georges Auric

bullet Cinematography by
Freddie Francis

bullet Film Editing by
Jim Clark

bullet Art Direction by
Wilfred Shingleton

bullet Costume Design by

bullet Makeup Department
Gordon Bond .... hair stylist
Harold Fletcher .... makeup artist

bullet Production Management
Albert Fennell .... production supervisor
James H. Ware .... production manager
Claude Watson .... unit manager

bullet Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Michael Birkett .... assistant director

bullet Art Department
Peter James .... set dresser)

bullet Sound Department
A.G. Ambler .... sound
John Cox .... sound
Peter Musgrave .... dubbing editor
Daphne Oram .... electronic sound effects
Ken Ritchie .... sound

bullet Other crew
Paul Dehn .... lyricist
Maurice Gillett .... gaffer
Ray Jones .... camera grip
Mary Kessel .... assistant editor
Pamela Mann .... continuity
Jeanie Sims .... script editor
Ronnie Taylor .... camera operator (as Ronald Taylor)
Lambert Williamson .... conductor (as W. Lambert Williamson)
Bernard Ford .... focus puller (uncredited)

bullet Awards for The Innocents (1961) bullet

BAFTA Awards

1962 Nominated BAFTA Film Award Best British Film

1962 Nominated BAFTA Film Award Best Film from any Source

Directors Guild of America, USA

1962 Nominated DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures
Jack Clayton

Edgar Allan Poe Awards

1962 Won Edgar Best Motion Picture
Truman Capote and William Archibald

National Board of Review, USA

1961 Won NBR Award Best Director
Jack Clayton

Writers Guild of America, USA

1962 Nominated WGA Award (Screen) Best Written American Drama
William Archibald and Truman Capote

bullet AMG Info for The Innocents (1961) bullet

UK (1961)- 100 min. - Feature, B&W

Plot Synopsis
In this lugubrious but brilliantly realized adaptation of Henry James' classic novella The Turn of the Screw, 19th century British governess Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) arrives at a bleak mansion to take care of Flora (Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stephens), the wealthy household's two children. Outwardly the children are little darlings, but the governess begins to feel that there's something unwholesome behind those beatific smiles. After several disturbing examples of the children's evil impulses, Miss Giddens gets information from the housekeeper (Megs Jenkins) that suggests that the children may be possessed by malign spirits -- or are all these events just the products of Miss Giddens's own imagination? The best and most frightening vignette in The Innocents occurs when the governess casually kisses young Miles, then recoils in horror when she realizes that someone other than Miles has kissed her back. Unlike many CinemaScope productions, The Innocents plays better in the claustrophobic confines of the TV screen.

The Innocents is strong proof that low-violence, atmospheric horror films were not invented by The Blair Witch Project. Based on Henry James's novella The Turn of the Screw, the film wisely leaves in doubt how much what occurs may be supernatural, and how much may be in the mind of the protagonist (Deborah Kerr). It's all the more frightening for what isn't shown, and it has endured as one of the screen's best psychological dramas. Truman Capote, whose work often dealt with repressed sexuality, was among the screenwriters. The pacing from director Jack Clayton creates a confining intensity that allows Kerr to magnify her performance. This is a very scary movie, without any of the gimmicks often associated with the horror genre.

bullet Review for The Innocents (1961) bullet

The definitive screen adaptation of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw, the 1961 production of The Innocents remains one of the most effective ghost stories ever filmed. Originally promoted as the first truly "adult" chiller of the big screen (a marginally valid claim considering the release of Psycho a year earlier), the film arrived at a time when the thematic depth of James's story could finally be addressed without the compromise of reductive discretion. And while the Freudian anxiety that fuels the story may seem tame by today's standards, the psychological horrors that comprise the story's "dark secret" are given full expression in a film that brilliantly clouds the boundary between tragic reality and frightful imagination.

In one of her finest performances, Deborah Kerr stars as Miss Giddons, a devout and somewhat repressed spinster who happily accepts the position of governess for two orphaned children whose uncle (Michael Redgrave) readily admits to having no interest in being tied down by two "brats." So Miss Giddons is dispatched to Bly House, the lavish, shadowy estate where young Flora (Pamela Franklin) and her brother Miles (Martin Stephens, so memorable in 1960's Village of the Damned) live with a good-natured housekeeper (Megs Jenkins). At first, life at Bly House seems splendidly idyllic, but as Miss Giddons learns the horrible truth about the estate's now-deceased groundskeeper and previous governess, she begins to suspect that her young charges are ensnared in a devious plot from beyond the grave.

Ghostly images are revealed in only the most fleeting glimpses, and the outstanding Cinemascope photography by Freddie Francis (who used special filters to subtly darken the edges of the screen) turns Bly House into a welcoming mansion by day, a maze of mystery and terror by night. Sound effects and music are used to bone-chilling effect, and director Jack Clayton, blessed with a script by William Archibald and Truman Capote, maintains a deliberate pace to emphasize the ambiguity of James's timeless novella. The result is a masterful film--comparable to the 1963 classic The Haunting--that uses subtlety and suggestion to reach the pinnacle of fear.

bullet CineBooks' Motion Picture Guide Review for The Innocents (1961) bullet

UK (1961): Horror
100 min, No rating, Black & White
CineBooks' Motion Picture Guide Review: 4.0 stars out of 5

Based on Henry James's The Turn of the Screw, THE INNOCENTS is a fine chiller that builds suspense slowly, subtly, and inexorably.

A new governess. In Victorian England a governess Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) arrives at the huge country estate of a man The Uncle (Michael Redgrave) who has hired her to watch over his young niece and nephew Flora (Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stephens). The housekeeper Mrs. Grose (Megs Jenkins) introduces her to Flora, an angelic little child with a beguiling smile who appears to have a mysterious foreknowledge of her brother's imminent arrival, though he is not expected. Soon a letter arrives from Miles's school, informing the household that the boy has been expelled because he is a corrupting influence on his schoolmates. However, when Miles arrives, he proves to be every bit as innocent and entrancing as his sister, and Miss Giddens decides that the school officials must have been mistaken.

A haunted estate. Though the estate is a beautiful refuge, there is also an air of eeriness about the place. Miss Giddens thinks she sees a man atop the house, is temporarily blinded by the sun, and then discovers Miles feeding pigeons where she thought the man was. Feeling that her eyes must have played tricks on her, she calms down; later, however, she sees the specter of a woman at a window, and then sees the man again, getting a glimpse of his twisted face.

When she describes these apparitions to Mrs. Grose, she is told that the descriptions match those of the estate's late manager and his dead lover, the woman who preceded Miss Giddens as governess. Miss Giddens learns further that the deceased lovers had a sadomasochistic relationship, and that they had a considerable influence on the children.

Spirits confronted. Believing that Miles and Flora may have been possessed by the ghostly couple, Miss Giddens makes vain attempts to get the children to own up to what's really happening in their cherubic heads, but the duo will have none of her prying. She tries to frighten Flora into admitting that she is possessed, but the girl becomes hysterical and leaves the house with Mrs. Grose.

Feeling that these tactics may have rid Flora of her demon, Miss Giddens now begins to work on Miles. When the manager's ghost reappears before them, Miss Giddens forces the boy to say the man's name, thus admitting that he can see the figure as well as she can. Miles speaks the man's name (Quint), then falls dead at Miss Giddens's feet. She lifts the little figure, kisses him, and begins to pray for his immortal soul as the film ends.

A gem. Filmed at Sheffield Park in Sussex, this gothic horror film, coscripted by Truman Capote, is fairly faithful to the Henry James original. Unfortunately, the film never found an audience, an undeserved fate for this exquisite filmmaking gem.

bullet Pauline Kael Review for The Innocents (1961) bullet

UK (1961): Horror
100 min, No rating, Black & White

Directed by Jack Clayton and photographed by Freddie Francis (in CinemaScope, in black and white), this version of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw is one of the most elegantly beautiful ghost movies ever made. It features a scary, intense performance by Deborah Kerr, as the governess who sees demonic spectres and forces one of her two charges—the little boy Miles (Martin Stephens)—to confront them. Both Kerr and Michael Redgrave, as the gent who hires her, have just the right note of suppressed hysteria in their voices. The settings—the house, the park, the lake—are magnificent, and the script by William Archibald, Truman Capote, and John Mortimer offers the pleasures of literacy. The filmmakers concentrate on the virtuoso possibilities in the material, and the beauty of the images raises our terror to a higher plane than the simple fears of most ghost stories. There are great sequences (like one in a schoolroom) that work on the viewer's imagination and remain teasingly ambiguous. With Pamela Franklin, Megs Jenkins, Peter Wyngarde, and Clytie Jessop. Music by Georges Auric. Released in the U.S. by 20th Century-Fox.

bullet Leonard Maltin Review for The Innocents (1961) bullet

UK (1961): Horror
100 min, No rating, Black & White
Leonard Maltin Review: 3.5 stars out of 4

First-rate thriller based on Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, with Kerr as governess haunted by specters that may or may not be real. Script by William Archibald and Truman Capote, brilliantly realized on film. Photographed by Freddie Francis. James's short story remade in 1992. CinemaScope.

bullet Memorable Quotes from The Innocents (1961) bullet

Miles: It was only the wind, my dear.

Miles: What shall I sing to my lord from my window? What shall I sing for my lord will not stay? What shall I sing for my lord will not listen? Where shall I go when my lord is away? Whom shall I love when the moon is arisen? Gone is my lord and the grave is his prison. What shall I say when my lord comes a calling? What shall I say when he knocks on my door? What shall I say when his feet enter softly? Leaving the marks of his grave on my floor. Enter my lord. Come from your prison. Come from your grave, for the moon is a risen. Enter, my lord.

Miss Giddens: But above anything else, I love the children.

Flora: [singing] We lay my love and I, beneath the weeping willow. But now alone I lie and weep beside the tree. Singing "Oh willow waly" by the tree that weeps with me. Singing "Oh willow waly" till my lover return to me. We lay my love and I beneath the weeping willow. A broken heart have I. Oh willow I die, oh willow I die...

bullet Trivia for The Innocents (1961) bullet

There is reference to a "Reverend Fennell." Albert Fennell was the film's executive producer.

bullet Goofs for The Innocents (1961) bullet

Continuity: When Miss Giddens goes upstairs to the bedroom, the candle varies in size between shots.

Continuity: In the scene where Miles is on the horse, he rides with and without a saddle in various shots.

bullet DVD Details bullet

The Innocents (1961)

Product Details

Format: Closed-captioned, Black & White, Anamorphic, NTSC
Region: Region 1
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century-Fox
DVD Release Date: September 6, 2005
Run Time: 100 minutes

DVD Features

Available Subtitles: English, Spanish
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Includes widescreen anamorphic and full-screen versions

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