Every time Miss Giddens walks past the white roses that accent every room in the gloomy mansion setting of Jack Clayton’s The Innocents, a shiver of petals falls to the floor. But the roses are newly cut and shouldn’t shed; we can see them blooming in the garden, fresh and alive, dewdrops clinging to them prettily like tears. Beyond what we can see of her—straight back; tightly trussed, high-necked gowns; neat hair; placid expression—it’s as if there is some invisible astringency that flows outward from the governess, rotting the flowers, corrupting the pure.
It’s this quality in The Innocents—a version of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw that all but dispenses with the novella’s ambiguity by portraying the governess protagonist as almost certainly not-haunted, and almost definitely batshit insane with hysterically repressed and tragically projected sexual paranoia—that makes the role a kind of apotheosis for the often misapprehended Deborah Kerr. Her best roles not only played on her willingness to subvert the unshakable image of pristine probity that became attached to her, they relied on it: Miss Giddens would not be half so terrifying if her porcelain exterior had, at the outset, a single hairline crack in it. It is her aura of scrupulous competence and brisk, British common sense that makes her madness so deliciously perverse.
Twisted Nostalgia: Chris Isaak in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
Gifted with the looks and suavity of a young Elvis, the “Wicked Game” crooner shares with David Lynch an obsession with 1950s Americana—and a knowledge of the darkness at its heart.
In Case You Missed It: Our Essential Reads of 2021
As the holiday season begins to wind down, we’re proud to close out another year in our online magazine by looking back at a few of our favorite essays and interviews.
Parables of Perception: Three Films by Mani Kaul
Misunderstood by many of his contemporaries, this pioneer of Indian art cinema infused elements of traditional art forms into his own boldly experimental style.
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