Jack Clayton's 1961 film, The Innocents, makes an attempt to frighten. I am sure back in 1961 it was a scary movie in the sense, but it did not have that effect on me since scary movies are taken to a whole new level today. However, the movie did keep my attention because it had a mystery to it.
I saw the movie before reading the entire book, The Turn of the Screw, written by Henry James in 1898, because I was having a hard time following the book. Therefore, I had no idea of what the outcome would possibly be. I thought the movie would have a very predictable ending and not be interesting or exciting. I feel that I was proved wrong for the most part.
I was figuring out what was going on with Miles (Martin Stephens) and Flora (Pamela Franklin) at the same time the new governess (Deborah Kerr) was. I was not ever a step ahead of her. She had excellent intuition in the movie because I do not think anyone else could have come up with the fact that the ghosts were overtaking the bodies of the two children. It was obvious that perspective was written into the script. I would have guessed them to be attention-lacking brats separate from the reality that there were ghosts living in the house.
Not only did the ending surprise me, it disappointed a little but only because I wanted to know what became of Flora. Since the movie made me want to know more, this might make it a good thing. It kind of left me hanging, along with the thought: "I cannot believe Miles just died!" I never saw it coming. I do not think the new governess did either because she was trying to talk to Miles as though he could respond, and he did not because he was dead.
Up until the end the new governess had a good intuition going on. She figured out everything from the ghosts inhabiting their bodies to the solution of making the ghosts leave. Because it was her intuition alone, nobody else could have any way of knowing the things she did. That is what made the movie such an interesting mystery to me.