The Innocents (1961, Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave)

Masterly, atmospheric and downright chilling adaptation of Henry James’ classic short ghost story. Stars Deborah Kerr as the young governess tormented by the supernatural – or her own neurotic hysteria.

A wonderfully chilly adaptation of Henry James’s ‘The Turn of the Screw’ starring Deborah Kerr. She plays naive young Miss Giddens, who lands a seemingly easy job in a huge country house as governess. However, she soon comes to suspect that the two children entrusted to her care are possessed, and that the ghosts responsible are lurking around the property.

As Giddens attempts to save the boy, Miles (Stephens), and girl, Flora (Franklin), and comes to doubt her own sanity, director Clayton plays clever tricks on his audience. Is she imagining things? Are we? The ending is brutally logical and chilling.

Skilfully setting the menacing tone from the very first frame, Clayton has never been better, using Freddie Francis’ black-and-white CinemaScope camera to maximize the dread and horror which may or may not be lurking around every corner.

Kerr pitches her difficult part perfectly and if the plotting may seem a over-familiar to a modern audience, at the time of its release The Innocents was a truly original horror film, often imitated but never surpassed.

Cast: Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins, Martin Stephens, Pamela Franklin

Director: Jack Clayton
Producer: Jack Clayton
Writer: William Archibald, Truman Capote, John Mortimer
Photographer: Freddie Francis
Composer: Georges Auric