Deborah Kerr stars in this "horrifying Gothic ghost tale" (Newsweek) based on Henry James' "The Turn Of The Screw,' a powerful psychological drama about innocence possessed by evil. Shortly after coming to live with orph... more »ans Flora and Miles in their dark, eerie mansion, the new governess (Kerr) mistakes their strange behavior for preciousness. But she soon comes to believe that the charming, beautiful children are possessed by evil, malicious spirits - the souls of their previous governess and estate manager who are now dead. With its shocking conclusion and sinister cinematic effects. The Innocents "catches an eerie, spine-chilling mood right from the start" (Variety) that never lets up.« less
Aimee S. (Ariadnae) from SCOTTOWN, OH Reviewed on 6/29/2008...
Simply put, this is a brillant film. The subtle use of special heightens the mounting tension in the film. It's what is not shown, but only hinted at that is the most frightening. A highly recommended film!
A Classic, Inspired and Terrifying
Mad Dog | Canada | 01/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There have been several adaptations of The Turn Of The Screw, but none as effective as this 1961 gem. Working on the axiom that less-is-more, Clayton shows remarkable and deliberate restraint, and it pays off.Kerr plays governess to two children one of which may or may not be the victim of possession. Anything more would be giving it away.Certainly in the top ten list of Horror/Ghost story films of all time, The Innocents compares favorably with "The Haunting" (the original '63 version). Kerr's spectral visions are as solid as the furniture -- they're just harder to find, and lot scarier; the film is an example of how little one needs to resort to SPFX when one knows how to make drama.On the down side the original was photographed in lush monochrome cinemascope, and the only version released to date (that I'm aware of) is pan-an-scan, so you're missing about 40% of the image.Still, even in this limited form, "The Innocents" is as scary as anything that's come out of Hollywood inthe last twenty years (er, I mean deliberately scarey -- the remake of The Haunting was scarey for all the wrong reasons).Please let there be a DVD soon!"
The best horror film ever made...Deborah Kerr is superb.
Robert J. Willert | LOS ANGELES, CA | 06/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There have been some great horror films in the 20th century. Hitchcock was responsible for probably a half dozen himself. The more recent "The Others" comes to mind, and "The Sixth Sense". But nothing compares to Henry James' tale of horror in Turn of the Screw, aptly named THE INNOCENTS for film. Deborah Kerr is perfectly cast as the governess of two children who seem to be possessed by two tragic ghostly figures that only the governess can see. Creepy, haunting, a movie you probably don't want to watch alone, though I have. Great cast. Director Jack Clayton has the perfect touch. Though I am giving the film itself 5 stars, I wouldn't give the VHS version a high mark at all. The audience is forced to watch this magnificent film in the dreadful 'full screen' mode. All we see are mouths and noses at times. If the studio doesn't want to release the film on DVD, at least bring out a special 'wide screen' VHS version so we can see the movie as it should be seen. Or, better yet, release THE INNOCENTS on DVD. It deserves as much attention as most classics."
The greatest ghost story ever filmed
Jay Dickson | Portland, OR | 02/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jack Clayton's superb film version of Henry James's novella THE TURN OF THE SCREW is unquestionably the most faithful rendition of James ever brought to the screen: the film retains not only all the famous ambiguity of the novella but also all the beauty as well as all the suspense and horror. Deborah Kerr gives the performance of her life (with the exception only, perhaps, of Sister Clodagh in BLACK NARCISSUS) as the beautiful and hysterical governess brought to a gigantic mansion to care for two odd children, who may or may not be communing with the ghosts of Kerr's predecessor and the manor's manservant. The uncertainty as to whether the ghosts are real--or products of the governess's repressed fears and insecurities--is the famous crux of the James novella, and beautifully translated into the film. There are teasing moments of narrative uncertainty, such as the classic sequence in the schoolroom, that capture all the mystery of the original source, and the great sequence with Kerr trying to restrain a hysterical Flora from joining what looks to be the ghost of Miss Jessel out by the manor's lake in the pouring rain is authentically creepy."
A. Griffiths | London | 09/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Innocents is far and way one of the most effective ghost stories ever commited to celluloid. Deborah Kerr stars as Miss Giddens, a timid governess who believes that the house she is in charge of is being haunted, and that the two children in her care are being corrupted by the evil ghosts. Based on the short novel "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James, the film manages to successfully tackle the pivotal mystery of the story, which is that the viewer cannot be sure whether the ghosts are real, or just a figment of the governess's imagination. The scenes in which Kerr sees the apparitions are extremely well done. On one occasion, a sombre figure in a black dress is seen standing on the far bank of a lake, in another, the evil face of a man appears through the gloom outside of a window. The ghosts appear for just long enough and just indistinctly enough to scare the pants off poor Miss Giddens, not to mention the viewer! Shot in stunning black and white cinemascope, and beautifully showing every period detail, the film has some amazing scenes utilizing very deep focus, which is used to great dramatic effect. Deborah Kerr gives an excellent performance, depicting the governess's slide into hysteria, as do the two children; you can never quite tell if they are behaving perfectly innocently, or are in league with the spirits, which is just what is intended. I really recommend this film, along with the 1963 film "The Haunting" as the most frightening portrayal of ghosts in the cinema."