Mixed Feelings???

     The 1961 cinematic adaptation of The Turn of the Screw, written by Henry James in 1898, The Innocents, directed by Jack Clayton, was a better adaptation of a book than the 1939 adaptation of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and the 1954 Spanish version of Wuthering Heights, Los Abismos de Pasion. Although I felt that the film, based on its time period, was produced and directed very well, not only did I not like the movie, but I could hardly stand the novel.

     Henry James's novella, The Turn of the Screw, was a great disappointment to me, considering his last book, Washington Square. This book was increasingly hard to follow and understand. The book seemed like a Danielle Steels novel except that the rugged handsome man barely had facial hair, and the beautiful exotic woman was a little girl who did not know a bra from a horse harness. I felt that somehow this was a sick and twisted "little" love triangle. However, the sexual connotations seemed stronger in the film than in the novel. I agree with Janelle Zech (Montage '96), "The Innocents, however, is not as innocent as its title would have one believe. It too, had its sexual moments; only in this movie the audience was left questioning and puzzled. The sexual sections, seemed out of place, and I found myself wondering if what I had seen was true, or if I was merely a pervert."

     The big question throughout the course of the novella and the film has been, "Are there ghosts?" If there were ghosts, Deborah Kerr, certainly played her part well. She acted very scared when she had to and very confused and frustrated when time called for it. But like Tracy Ross (Montage '96), "I found this film to be enjoyable and sometimes hilarious, but not scary." If it was supposed to be a horror film, it certainly came out a different way.

     There were times when I thought, "Oh, God! Not another Los Abismos de Pasion!" Other than the fact that at times the acting of Deborah Kerr was a little weak and overstressed, the children, Martin Stephens, as Miles, and Pamela Franklin, as Flora, did an incredible job. I agree with Richard Wilson (Montage '96), that "Martin Stephens is wonderfully menacing and then convincingly innocent as Miles." I also agree with Tracy Ross (Montage '96), "Martin Stephens gives a chilling performance as Miles, the child with an angel's face and the devil's heart, but the rest of the movie could not follow his lead."

     "I have to admit that I honestly did not care much for the book, the play, or the movie. I guess I tend to favor a less vague story and I do not believe much in the supernatural, so I find this movie rather unbelievable" (Elaine Young, Montage '96)).

Angie Butler

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