Monday, July 11, 2016

A Holly Golightly Ghost Story, or Thoughts on The Innocents

Based on the 1898 novel by Henry James with a screenplay by my all time favorite author Truman Capote, The Innocents (1961) is a haunting black and white ghost story, like a gothic To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) but with no life lessons other than ghosts are creepy and sometimes the dead won’t stay dead.
Deborah Kerr, who you may remember as another governess in The King and I (1956) portrays Miss Giddens, the governess of two orphans, Miles and Flora, in a lonely manor with a distant and absent rich uncle.  The previous governess died under mysterious circumstances you know, as they do.
Moody and atmospheric, with angled staircases and sounds that travel, Miss Giddens encounters the usual array of ghostly apparitions and mysterious winds blowing out candles.  She becomes convinced that Miles and Flora are possessed by the spirits of their previous nanny and her lover, the “handsome and obscene” Peter Quint.
Cinematic tension and subtle frights are supplied by the clever use of oblique angles, shadows and frames, complimented by Deborah Kerr’s powerful and intense performance as the tormented nanny.  Much like Orphan (2009), the two children are wise beyond their years with a pervasive undercurrent of sexual abuse and corruption.  From a modern perspective, the movie plays like an elaborately horrific abuse metaphor, but that can be said about almost any horror movie. 
Look out for Pamela Franklin from Satan's School for Girls (1973) and The Legend of Hell House (also 1973) as Flora, one of those two evil kids.  Directed by Jack Clayton, who would go on to direct The Great Gatsby (1971) with Robert Redford and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983), Time Out lists The Others at #18 in 100 Greatest British Films (Don’t Look Now 1973 is #1), and it currently holds a rating of 97% at Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie is a spiritual (pun intended) forefather to The Others (2001), another movie about two children trapped in a haunted house.  The Innocents inspired a prequel, The Nightcomers (1971) with Marlon Brando as Peter Quint and a BBC TV movie, The Turn of The Screw (2009) featuring Lord and Lady Crawley Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery.



my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.