Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Innocents


After her gig in 1956 looking after a few dozen Siamese rugrats, Deborah Kerr must have decided she enjoyed being a governess so much that she took this job at an estate in the English countryside. She could even use the same wardrobe, those insane five-foot-wide hoop skirts. This is based on “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James, a story I have never read but which is often on Top Ten lists of scary stories. It has a script co-written by Truman Capote, and it’s a high-class CinemaScope production, with great spooky photography. I didn’t find it very scary, and not really very involving. But I don’t suppose it was really meant as a horror story, certainly not in the sense we’ve come to know them. It is very atmospheric, with loads of creaking hinges, howling winds, slamming windows. There is one scene where the spooky little boy kisses Kerr passionately on the lips, which made the producers very nervous at the time. Come to that, I think it would still make producers, and audiences, uneasy. It did to me. Deborah Kerr has said she feels this is her best performance. I’m not all that familiar with her body of work, but it is a very good job. BTW, the kid, is very good at creepy. The previous year he starred as the leader of the mutant children in Village of the Damned.