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The Nightcomers [DVD]


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Product details

  • Actors: Marlon Brando, Stephanie Beacham, Thora Hird, Harry Andrews, Verna Harvey
  • Directors: Michael Winner
  • Writers: Henry James, Michael Hastings
  • Producers: Michael Winner, Alan Ladd Jr., Elliott Kastner, Jay Kanter
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: German, English
  • Subtitles: Dutch, German
  • Dubbed: German
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Momentum
  • DVD Release Date: 21 Oct. 2002
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006JY2R
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,667 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Bly House, a turn-of-the-century English estate, provides young Miles and Flora with a home after they are orphaned. However, they only find out about the death of their parents through the gardener Peter Quint (Marlon Brando), who becomes a powerful father figure for them both. As the children fall under his spell, the housekeeper Mrs Gross (Thora Hird) begins to fear that his influence may be less than benign.

Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A. Griffiths on 18 July 2005
Format: DVD
The famous prequel to "The Innocents" is finally available on DVD, but sadly it could never come close to the subtle perfection of that classic. Starring Marlon Brando and Stephanie Beacham, it imagines a possible scenario that may have been played out between Quint and Miss Jessell (who are already dead at the start of the action in the original novel, "The Turn Of The Screw"), and the two children who interact with them. A new governess is hired to clear up the psychological mess they left behind in the minds of these children, and that is the role played by Deborah Kerr in the 1960 classic, but it forms just the tail end of the film we have here.
First of all, Marlon Brando does an excellent job as the gardener/handyman. He portrays just the right amount of latent brutality and sex appeal that seduces the newly appointed governess. I'm no Brando expert, and it may be that he is just playing himself, but it works! Stephanie Beacham also fares well as the uptight governess, although her character is sketched in far less detail. The main problem with the movie is that it is... well, just a bit low on events - and very dated. Obviously filmed on location in Britain in the early 1970's (I know it's a period setting, but that golden age of British horror movies - the time of the famous Hammer Horror style - is unmistakeable!), the film is certainly beautiful to look at. The action is of course based around much corset ripping and a certain amount of sado-masochistic goings on between the two adults, all of which is spied upon by the two charges, ultimately corrupting them. Interestingly, the two children seem an awful lot older in this film than they actually turned out to be in "The Innocents", but I suppose having them as pre-teens would have made too much of the material un-filmable.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Richard Bowden on 4 Aug. 2007
Format: DVD
Conceived as a prequel to The Turn Of The Screw, Winner's film is a curious vehicle for Marlon Brando, as well as a example of a failed attempt to film gothic, period drama satisfactorily. Brando plays Peter Quint, the sexually aggressive former valet, now locum gardener at Bly House, an English county estate. Bly is run jointly by housekeeper, Mrs Grose (Thora Hird), and a governess, the repressed Miss Jessell (Stephanie Beacham). The only other inhabitants of this curious domicile are two children, Miles (Christopher Ellis) and Flora (Verna Harvey), nominally the wards of the absent Master of the House (a splendid Harry Andrews), obliged with their care after the death of their parents in an overseas automobile accident. The children regard Quint as something of a surrogate father, and feel that they can ingratiate themselves by manipulating his private life, notably his intense relationship with Miss Jessell.

Jack Claytons The Innocents (1962) is the closest point of reference for Winner's effort, as the earlier film is the definitive telling of the Henry James tale, the events of which spring from this. Presumably the appointment, and despatch to Bly of the (unnamed) new governess at the film's end is that of Miss Giddings, the character played by Deborah Kerr. But where Clayton's film was completely successful in transmitting a feeling of supernatural unease and psychological dread, Winner's ham-fisted approach to his material comes across as almost entirely without atmosphere or charm.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By trustmaxx on 29 Mar. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Quite obscure lurid melodrama directed by Michael Winner. Set in rural Lincolnshire and once again mostly shot on location, so quite interesting viewing.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M P Crouch on 13 Feb. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
this version cut/censored! why sell this version? the nightcomers seen original version at cinema , sex scene between brando & stephianie beacham removed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 34 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Brando Blows Blarney and Pre Turns The Screw 16 Aug. 2001
By Gypsychick - Published on Amazon.com
Touted as the prequel to "The Turn of the Screw", Brando plays Quint, a sexually charged gardener overseeing the grounds (and soon the players) at a remote English Manor. Two young orphans with only their nurse and housekeeper to tend to them become intrigued and obsessed by the strange Irish man who spends more time spinning tales than cutting the lawn. The children, who are completely closed off from the rest of the world, become willing voyeurs in Quint's creepy tender-violent dance with the nurse and soon find themselves aping the actions of the adults. Their loyalty and fixation with Quint drive them to unspeakable acts when it appears the "parents" may end their own relationship. Brando's Irish brogue is always a treat to hear (as in "The Missouri Breaks") and one always wonders of the horrific tales he spins in character have something to do with his own painful childhood. This film is engrossing and savage and walks the miniscule line between pleasure and pain. It's definitely not a flick for the kiddies.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Brando Makes This Work 24 Jun. 2007
By Brian J. Greene - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Chilling, tense, compelling take on The Turn of the Screw. Brando plays a ruffian gardener/caretaker who has some of his very own ideas about life, love, and nature. He has totally under his spell the two newly-orphaned children living in the house, as well as their buxom nanny. The story is fascinating from the first scene and never lets up. Danger is ever-present, yet when it strikes you are shocked and surprised. Some of the sex scenes between Brando and a lovely young Stepahnie Beacham push the envelope, to the point where you would almost call this softcore, because of the exposed personal parts and the S&M nature of some of these scenes. Some also might be disturbed by the two adolescent children playing at some of these scenarios, they having spied on the couple at night. But none of that is gratuituous, it is all part of the story, and if that doesn't bother you you will love the film.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A curiosity 29 Jun. 2007
By A. Griffiths - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
The famous prequel to "The Innocents" is finally available on DVD, but sadly it could never come close to the subtle perfection of that classic. Still, it's still an interesting film. Starring Marlon Brando and Stephanie Beacham, it imagines a possible scenario that may have been played out between Quint and Miss Jessell (who are already dead at the start of the action in the original novel, "The Turn Of The Screw"), and the two children who interact with them. A new governess is left with the psychological mess they left behind in the minds of these children, and that is the role played by Deborah Kerr in the 1960 classic, but it forms just the tail end of the film we have here.
First of all, Marlon Brando does a good job as the gardener/handyman. He portrays just the right amount of latent brutality and sex appeal to convince you that a prim governess could fall under his spell. I'm no Brando expert, and it may be that he is just playing himself, but it works...my only quibble is his rather thickly laid-on Irish accent which sounds a bit too forced to totally convince. Stephanie Beacham also fares well as the governess, although her character is sketched in far less detail. The two children are played rather woodenly, but to be fair they (and the rest of the cast) are hampered by a pretty hideous script which thinks it is approximating the style of talking in England in Victorian times, with lots of "pray tell me" and "you scoundrel" type of dialogue, and nobody ever uses contractions, which sounds extremely affected. Another main problem with the movie is that it is... well, just a bit low on events. Winner goes a bit overboard on the symbolism with shots of dolls without eyes, small animals dead or dying, or childhood toys found covered in maggots (gasp!). It's almost like he's copied his ideas from "The Innocents", (recalling a great scene when a cockroach crawls out of the mouth of a cherub statue), but he doesn't really need to do this as there is no mystery about how and why the children are acting in the way that they do, whereas in "The Innocents" we are trying to ascertain what is true and what is imagined. Here, it's all quite obvious.

Obviously filmed on location in Britain in the early 1970's (I know it's a period setting, but that golden age of British horror movies - the time of the famous Hammer Horror style - is unmistakeable!), the film is certainly beautiful to look at. The action is set in lush forests and gardens, as well as the impressively period looking country mansion. Highlights are of course based around much corset ripping and a certain amount of sado-masochistic goings on between the two adults, all of which is spied upon by the two charges, ultimately corrupting them with a twisted view of the relationship between love and death, as much as an interest in kinky thrills. Interestingly, the two children seem an awful lot older in this film than they actually turned out to be in "The Innocents", but I suppose having them as pre-teens would have made too much of the material un-filmable.

There's no supernatural element at all (as the cast are all still alive in this movie!), so it's just a dark romp through sordid and sexy goings on at a country estate, culminating in two deaths, and two very messed-up children. And of course, because of "The Innocents", everybody knows that there can only be one ending, so there's no surprises there. It tries to be shocking (children copying the perversions of adults-gasp!) but it really plays that aspect pretty safe. But again, it does look lovely - there's no substitute for filming in location on a gorgeous British country estate. And the sight of Stephanie Beacham when the dead body of Miss Jessell is discovered is one of the more bizarre images in period horror cinema - you won't forget that shot!

Sadly, due to the coarseness in handling the overall idea, it is mostly a rather uninvolving story, but director Michael Winner goes into it all with gusto, so it's an interesting one none the less.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
(2.5 STARS) At Best Curiosity 6 Feb. 2009
By Tsuyoshi - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
"Based on the characters" created by a Henry James novella "The Turn of the Screw," "The Nightcomers" is something of a curiosity. Probably without the name of Marlon Brando, the film would have been totally forgotten by now. My VHS tape's cover says "Don't miss this sexy shocker." Looking back from now, the 1971 Michael Winner film may still look sexy, but is not shocking any more.

Being a "prequel" to the Henry James story (or Jack Clayton's "The Innocents"), the story of "The Nightcomers" revolves around an enigmatic gardener Peter Quint (Marlon Brando) and his love/hate relations with the governess Miss Jessel (Stephanie Beacham). Brando's character also serves as a kind of father-figure to the two children Flora and Miles, whose strange behaviors often annoy the uptight housekeeper Mrs. Grose.

The film offers an interesting interpretation of what happened to Peter Quint and Miss Jessel, whose fates are only vaguely suggested in the original book. Brando's Quint is charismatic and sexy enough to convince us of his liaison with the repressed Miss Jessel, with several scenes that remind us of "Basic Instinct."

Unfortunately the two kids are much less successful, especially Flora. In short, they show no character development and remain uninteresting throughout the story. Once we see through the true nature of these innocent-looking children, which happens pretty early on, we have nothing to discover in their characters.

Instead of psychological nuances or emotional tensions, director Michael Winner (known for his revenge thriller "Death Wish") relies on shock tactics like blowing up a poor toad. I still don't understand why he was hired for this film, which obviously requires more subtle storytelling. In spite of Brando's mesmerizing performances (including his making funny faces), and the good photography that captures the creepy atmosphere of Bly House, "The Nightcomers" is a disappointing entry in Marlon Brando's filmography.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
No mysteries here 30 Mar. 2014
By SLB - Published on Amazon.com
I didn't expect much from this movie, and that's exactly what I got. If you liked "The Turn of the Screw" and "The Innocents" with Deborah Kerr, steer clear of this. James' story was a genius of complexity and mystery. "Nightcomers" is anything but subtle or mysterious. It's as blunt as a smack in the face with a cold trout.

Given the terrible plot and writing, Brando does a good job, Beacham is adequate, but the children... They are just awful. No surprise, I guess, given how little they were given to work with, but watching them was just painful.

Sadly, Nightcomers doesn't even add any insight or new ideas to Turn of the Screw. You already knew everything about Quint and the governess, and the kids -- well, we've already discussed that. So essentially the only reason to watch this film is to see Stephanie Beacham nude. Since that only lasts a total of about 3 minutes, better find something to do with the remaining one hour and 34 minutes.
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