Archive of films The Innocents / The Innocents

United Kingdom
1961, 100 min

Section: Midnight Screenings
Year: 2008

The governess at a sprawling gothic mansion becomes convinced that the children are possessed by perverse spirits of the dead. Eerily directed by Jack Clayton, and based on Henry James’ classic The Turn of the Screw, this strange, unsettling ghost story will chill your blood and haunt your memory.


An impressionable woman becomes governess to two seemingly innocent children at a sprawling gothic mansion. Gradually convinced that her charges are possessed by perverse spirits of the dead, she is increasingly disturbed by strange apparitions. A splendidly subtle and genuinely eerie adaptation of Henry James’ famous ghost story, The Turn of the Screw (1898), The Innocents is instilled with many haunting moments that stretch the expressive potential of the filmic palate to the utmost. Assisted by Francis’ beautiful photography, Clayton’s assured direction combines strange sounds and striking imagery – from the opening credits onwards - to chill the viewer in unexpected ways that defy easy description. Equally affecting is the odd relationship depicted between the naive governess and the strangely knowing children she attends. As the boundaries between their separate worlds of adulthood and childhood are jarringly blurred, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern where true innocence lies.

About the director

Jack Clayton (b.1921, Brighton, E. Sussex; d. 1995) took a job as ‘third assistant director’ at Korda’s London Films, aged fourteen. Many film jobs followed. Receiving his first sole directorial credit for the short ghost story The Bespoke Overcoat (1955), he found acclaim with Room at the Top (1959), the realist film that launched the British New Wave. Elements of The Innocents seemed to reappear in later work: The Pumpkin Eater (1964) featured another complex, troubled heroine; Our Mother’s House (1967) was a further eerie excursion into the hidden world of childhood. Fiercely independent, his work was well respected but commercial success often eluded him. He worked in Britain and America, directing eight feature films in total, the last of which, Memento Mori (1992), was made for the BBC.


21 Stephen Street, W1T 1LN, London
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 207 255 1444
Fax: +44 207 436 7950
E-mail: [email protected]

Hollywood Classics
Suite 31, Beaufort Court, Admirals Way, E14 9XL, London
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 207 517 7525
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Midnight Screenings
Director: Jack Clayton
Screenplay: William Archibald, Truman Capote, dodatečné scény a dialogy / additional scenes and dialogue John Mortimer
Dir. of Photography: Freddie Francis
Music: Georges Auric
Editor: Jim Clark
Producer: Jack Clayton
Production: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Cast: Deborah Kerr, Megs Jenkins, Martin Stephens, Pamela Franklin, Peter Wyngarde
Contact: BFI, Hollywood Classics


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