Daily Projections 11-29-2018: To Sir With Love (1967); The Innocents (1961)

Title: To Sir With Love
Director: James Clavell
Country of Origin: UK
Year: 1967
Screening format: Blu-ray
Setting: Home
First viewing? Yes

Notes: One in a long tradition of “inspiring teacher” films. Up until now, I had only seen the remake which was on TV some time in the early ’90s. It’shard to imagine anyone bringing as much dignity to the role as Sidney Poitier does, and yet, as if he needs the added gravitas, in many staff lounge scenes, Poitier is filmed from waist level causing him to appear more imposing than the other teachers who are filmed at eye level. While it’s hard to conceive of someone like Judy Geeson as the least bit menacing today, the lessons Sir drills into his students are possibly more relevant now than they ever were in 1967. Perhaps a teacher like Poitier’s Mr. Thackery would be plagued by scandal these days, but then again, who isn’t.

Interesting to note that the recording of “To Sir With Love” used in the film is not the version I grew up listening to on the radio: more rubato and more flexible phrasing than the single version I’m used to. Also, I never realized the Mindbender’s “It’s Getting Harder All The Time” was from this movie.

Also, I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to seeing young Patricia Routledge.

Title: The Innocents
Director: Jack Clayton
Country of Origin: UK
Year: 1961
Screening format: Blu-ray
Setting:Home
First viewing? Yes

Notes: A genuinely creepy ghost story with gorgeous cinematography. Absolutely not the sort of film that should be watched alone, late at night, in a house with a lot of windows – a lesson I learned the hard way. Deborah Kerr is as good as she ever was (the best that she ever was by her account).Costuming cleverly done as Kerr’s Miss Giddens begins the film in light colored, fashionable dresses and gradually adopts a more conservative style of dress until she is in full mourning garb as she becomes increasingly consumed by the house and the mystery within.

The Innocents is absolutely oozing with atmosphere, practically dripping with all the stifling humidity of the best Southern Gothic literature, no doubt the result of Truman Capote’s involvement with the screenplay.

Probably some of the most convincing depictions of ghostly activity I’ve seen without resorting to special effects. More akin to the subtlety of The Uninvited than the trick photography of typical Hollywood horror. The horror of The Innocents lies on the periphery: in the corner of the eye, across a pond, up a tower, outside the window. It’s all in what you might have seen.

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