THE NIGHTCOMERS


Title   Cast   Director   Year Shown  Other Info    Country  Notes 




England

Shown in 1971

CREDITS

dir
Michael Winner
scr
Michael Hastings
cam
Robert Paynter
cast
Marlon Brando, Stephanie Beacham, Thora Hird, Verna Harvey, Christopher Ellis, Harry Andrews, Anna Palk

OTHER

prod co
Scimitar Productions
source
Scimitar Productions
The Nightcomers

The surprise of the recent Venice Film Festival was this amazing motion picture, an original screenplay that has at once become a classic example of the literary cinema. Its alliance to literature is unique: It describes, in cinematic terms, what might have occurred before the events in Henry James’ novella, The Turn of the Screw. James’ celebrated work has already been excellently presented before on the screen (The Innocents), but its tormenting ambiguities have inspired Director Michael Winner and his scriptwriter, Michael Hastings, to imagine the pervasive realities of evil that remained undescribed in the original story. For those unfamiliar with The Turn of the Screw, a few descriptive phrases may help us appreciate the ingenuity of The Nightcomers. A young woman is hired by a mysterious London bachelor to act as a teacher-governess to his orphaned niece and nephew, Miles and Flora, young children who live in his country home. Their previous governess, Miss Jessel, had died and the children have been cared for temporarily by a housekeeper, Mrs. Grose. The new governess is quite taken with the vast estate, Bly House and the children are beautiful, clever and full of strange games. Miles has been sent home from his boarding school for being an injury to others, although he is only ten years old. It is soon apparent that one of the children’s games involves contact with ghosts who haunt the place day and night. The governess dismisses this idea until she sees one of them—the spectre of her employer’s deceased valet, Peter Quint. Later, the ghost of Miss Jessel appears and the governess senses that the two spirits are somehow living, detestable and dangerous presences, threatening to Miles and Flora. Eventually, the ghosts triumph over the living. The original story never quite explains why the former valet and governess stalk the halls and byways of the estate, and in The Nightcomers, one is taken back into the story with the same sense of compelling horror. Marlon Brando’s performance as Peter Quint is among the greatest in his career and the supporting cast is perfectly chosen, helpingThe Nightcomers come to grips with the murkiest recesses of the unconscious, the irrational and the most profound inner life of men and women.

—Albert Johnson