This genuinely frightening, exquisitely made supernatural gothic stars Deborah Kerr as an emotionally fragile governess who comes to suspect that there is something very, very wrong with her precocious new charges. A psychosexually intensified adaptation of Henry James’s classic The Turn of the Screw, cowritten by Truman Capote and directed by Jack Clayton, The Innocents is a triumph of narrative economy and technical expressiveness, from its chilling sound design to the stygian depths of its widescreen cinematography by Freddie Francis.
“Clayton said that he believed in ghosts, and yet the ghosts that come back to haunt Miss Giddens in The Innocents are both convincingly present and also convincingly specters that could be emanating from her own repressed Victorian mind. Clayton uses the wide Cinemascope in The Innocents so that the characters are always kept in focus and in balance in different parts of the frame, but it is what remains outside of the very sharply defined frame that obsesses that entire shivery movie.” – Film Comment
“To this day [it] still ranks among the greatest of horror films… The Innocents is more tense than frightening — though it is very, very frightening. (It still contains at least one of the great scares of cinema. I won’t tell you what it is, except to say that, like so many things in this film, it involves a window.) But that tension hits us in a very deep place, because it’s borne of something more sinister than just cinematic trickery and plot manipulation.” – Vulture
“Is it the finest, smartest, most visually savvy horror film ever made by a big studio? …Clayton’s filmmaking, mustering frisson by both candle and blazing daylight, could serve as an object lesson in its genre. Only Robert Wise’s The Haunting, out two years later, came close to its edge-of-sight menace, repressed gothic angst, and all-suggestion creep-outs.” Village Voice
“Though it is an undeniably terrifying movie, its virtues would be clear in any filmic category. More than fifty years later, The Innocents remains one of the least compromised, most genuinely unsettling movies of the 1960s, a horror film in both the metaphysical and psychological senses, brought to the screen with more care and craftsmanship than the haunted-house genre probably ever received before or since.” Reverse Shot
- 10/20 | 7:00PM