Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. United Kingdom/USA, 1964. Quota Rentals Limited, Ross Hunter Productions, Universal Pictures. Screenplay by John Michael Hayes, based on the play by Enid Bagnold. Cinematography by Arthur Ibbetson. Produced by Ross Hunter. Music by Malcolm Arnold. Production Design by Carmen Dillon. Costume Design by Julie Harris. Film Editing by Jack Harris. Academy Awards 1964. Golden Globe Awards 1964.
Hayley Mills plays a precocious teenager with a hyperactive brain who gets her governesses into trouble to alleviate her boredom. She does this much to the chagrin of her exasperated grandmother (Edith Evans) and short-tempered butler (Mills’ real life father John Mills). In order to soften her granddaughter out, Evans hires her a tutor (Deborah Kerr) who is responsible for teaching her the finer things in life, but from the moment the woman arrives Hayley is intent on finding out all her deepest secrets. When she stumbles on the possibility that her tutor might be a suspected murderer who was acquitted many years before, she risks ruining the first truly good relationship she’s ever had in her life. When her own mother tries to get her back after having dumped her on her grandmother years before, the audience comes to better understand the tumultuous emotional life that has led this young girl to the behaviour she is constantly exhibiting. The acting is impeccable in this sudsy little drama, an enjoyable effort featuring Kerr at her best (the woman was pretty much ALWAYS at her best) and Evans keeping up right along with her.