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The Innocents

The Innocents - 1961 - Jack Clayton - B

The movie is based on the Henry James novella, "The Turn of the Screw." The screenplay was written by Truman Capote and William Archibald. This movie was an early attempt at a psychological thriller. The director had to make the audience believe in evil spirits and posession without the use of modern day special effects. Instead, he made excellent use of close ups, lighting, maniacal laughter, eerie music and slow motion. The story begins with a well to do socialite (Michael Redgrave) interviewing a young woman, Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) for the position of governess for his two wards. He wants nothing to do with the raising of the children and tells her she will be the one who is ultimately in charge, and he would prefer not to be disturbed with any problems. She accepts the job, and travels out to the country estate, Bly House. She is greeted by the adorable Flora and she bonds with her instantly. She meets the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose. All seems well, until she receives a letter explaining that Miles, Flora's brother, is being expelled from boarding school and will be arriving home. Why he is expelled is never fully divulged and Miss Giddens fears the worst until she meets Miles. She is won over completely by his sweet disposition. As time passes, Miss Giddens begins to see "others" on the property. One is the former governess, Miss Jessel, and the valet, Mr. Quint. She is told by the housekeeper that their deaths were under stange circumstances. She reveals that the two deceased people were lovers, and feels that they may have detrimentally influenced the children as they were not judicious about how they carried on their affair. The children start behaving strangely, whispering and playing pranks. Miss Giddens begins to think that perhaps they are being posessed by the ghosts of the dead.

This is where she starts becoming unhinged, and feels it is her duty to save Flora and Miles. The otherwise mild mannered woman embarks on a holy crusade to rid the children of the evil spirits.

Ultimately, there is a lot more damage done than spiritual healing. I would recommend this movie for the sheer creepiness factor.