Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
United Kingdom, 1969. Twentieth Century-Fox Productions. Screenplay by Jay Presson Allen, based on her play, adapted from the novel by Muriel Spark. Cinematography by Ted Moore. Produced by Robert Fryer. Music by Rod McKuen. Production Design by John Howell. Costume Design by Joan Bridge, Elizabeth Haffenden. Film Editing by Norman Savage. Academy Awards 1969. Cannes Film Festival 1969. Golden Globe Awards 1969. National Board of Review Awards 1969. New York Film Critics Awards 1969.
Maggie Smith earned her international reputation in this excellent British comedy-drama. She plays an eccentric Scottish teacher at an all-girls’ school in Edinburgh who pushes her pupils towards impractical passions and away from the minor concerns of everyday life. She herself has a personal life which is pretty messy, what with her many romances with other faculty members (including then real-life husband Robert Stephens) and inability to figure out her feelings for anybody including herself. Her wayward teachings, while well-intentioned, end up getting the better of her when one of her students (Pamela Franklin) decides to put a stop to her. The drama crackles, and Smith gives a tour de force performance that commands the screen every minute she graces it. Adapted by Jay Presson Allen from her equally successful stage play.