Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"WE LAY, MY LOVE AND I BENEATH THE WEEPING WILLOW AND NOW ALONE I LIE AND WEEP BESIDE THE TREE." As promised, today's creepy Halloween film is 1961's "THE INNOCENTS" starring the late Deborah Kerr (who just died less than a month after her 86th birthday) as the repressed governness who either sees real ghosts or imagines them. We're talking A picture all the way, folks. Henry James' novel "The Turn of the Screw" is adapted by William Archibald and Truman Capote fer goshsakes! It's beautifully directed by Jack Clayton and sumptuously photographed by Freddie Francis. And the cast all have serious acting chops -- from the first scene with Deborah Kerr and Sir Michael Redgrave to the marvelous Megs Jenkins and the malevolent Peter Wyngarde. Hell, even the CHILDREN are phenomenol actors: Martin Stephens (who would also chill in "Village of the Damned" and Pamela Franklin (who would venure into ANOTHER haunted house as an adult in "Legend of Hell House"). Even Clytie Jessop looks absolutely perfect in her small role as the ghostly Miss Jessel; standing staring in the distance among the reeds in the pooring rain she's stunning.
Of course, I think the film leans a little towards the "sexually repressed governness is imagining it all" instead of remaining firmly in the middle. But the viewer can still make up their own minds whether ghosts actually walk (and peer in at windows in one particularly frightening scene) or only appear inside Deborah Kerr's head. And then, of course, there's that haunting song:
"Singing O Willow Waly by the tree that weeps with me,
Singing O Willow Waly till my lover returns to me,
We lay, my love and I beneath the weeping willow,
A broken heart have I,
O Willow I die. . . O Willow I die. . ."

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