The Innocents

D: Jack Clayton
20th Century Fox/Achilles (Jack Clayton)
UK 1961
99 mins


W: William Archibald & Truman Capote [based on the novel "The Turn Of The Screw" by Henry James]
DP: Freddie Francis
Ed: James B. Clark
Mus: Georges Auric
PD: Wilfred Shingleton

Deborah Kerr (Miss Giddens), Megs Jenkins (Mrs. Grose), Pamela Franklin (Flora), Martin Stephens (Miles), Peter Wyngarde (Peter Quint), Clytie Jessop (Miss Jessel), Michael Redgrave (The Uncle)

Based on the Henry James' novel "The Turn Of The Screw", The Innocents is a genius revamping on haunted house ghost stories starring the impeccably pure Deborah Kerr.
Set in Victorian England, Kerr plays spinster governess, Miss Giddens, who is hired to look after two orphan children at a secluded countryside estate. 
While looking after the children, she finds them more precocious than their age may suggest and that they are nowhere near as innocent as they appear to be.
Miss Giddens appears to see the ghostly figures of two people, a man and a woman, around the reclusive estate and discovers that they bare resemblance to two recently deceased members of staff who were in a sadomasochistic relationship with each other and she becomes convinced that these ghostly apparitions are corrupting the two young children.
The Innocents does an excellent job of playing tricks with the audiences mind, as you're constantly wrestling with whether these ghostly visions are real or if it's the lead character who's going mad and allowing her own repressed feelings to come forth. The film makes use of its eerie countryside locations, shadowy black & white photography, and particularly the creepy, atmospheric music (the song "O Willow Waly", which serves as introduction to the film, is incredibly sinister).
2001's The Others clearly took this film as inspiration and put a different twist on it, but this is still amongst the best and most original films of its kind. Certainly in the top 10 horror movies of the 1960's, when the genre was at its very peak.

Deborah Kerr in The Innocents
Deborah Kerr in The Innocents