"The Innocents" is director Jack Clayton's screen adaptation of Henry James's story "The Turn of the Screw" (1898). A brilliant and fascinating exercise in psychological horror. Impressionable and repressed governess Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) agrees to tutor two orphaned children, Miles and Flora. On arrival at Bly House, she becomes convinced that the children are possessed by the perverse spirits of former governess Miss Jessel and her lover Quint (Peter Wyngarde) who both met with mysterious deaths.
The film's sinister atmosphere is carefully created through its cinematography, soundtrack, and design: Freddie Francis' beautiful photography, with its eerily indistinct long shots and mysterious manifestations at the edges of the frame; an evocative and spooky soundtrack; and the grand yet decaying Bly House.
Deborah Kerr gives the performance of her career and makes "The Innocents" an intensely unsettling experience. Are the ghosts the products of Miss Giddens' fevered imagination and emotional immaturity, or a displacement of her shock at the sexually precocious behaviour of ten-year-old Miles? Is she the protector or the corrupter?
Now widely considered to be one of the greatest of all ghost stories on film, "The Innocents" continues to inspire today's 'haunted house' movies, most notably "The Others" starring Nicole Kidman and directed by Alejandro Amenábar in 2001.
DVD Extras include a commentary with Professor Christopher Frayling, the original trailer for "The Innocents", the Oscar and BAFTA award-winning short film "The Bespoke Overcoat" directed by Jack Clayton, 1955, 33 mins (Clayton's first film as director) starring Alfie Bass and David Kossoff,
a stills gallery including original costume designs, publicity posters, press books and production pictures and a booklet including film notes by Jeremy Dyson (BBC's "The League of Gentlemen").