Monday, March 3, 2008

The Nightcomers (1972)

I wasn't particularly impressed with Michael Winner's The Nightcomers, a prequel to The Turn of the Screw, although I can't say I was terribly surprised as I went in expecting a very mediocre film and I got a very mediocre film. The story is about a pair of very wealthy orphans named Flora and Miles who live in a large mansion somewhere in England. The children are cared for by the cook and maid Mrs. Grose (Thora Hird), their nanny Miss Jessel (Stephanie Beacham) as well as Peter Quint, the gardener (Marlon Brando). The children seem to be normal kids, they enjoy the normal things that eleven year olds do, and they are very fond of Quint. They spend much of their day hanging around Quint who tells them stories and teaches them the way of the world as he sees it, which is not always correct but the children believe anything he says. Quint and Miss Jessel in the meantime are having a sadomasochistic relationship, but all the children know is that they love each other. Miles is very curious about sex, but doesn't understand anything about it, and being that it is 1901 no one is willing to explain it to him, so he spies on Quint and Miss Jessel while they explore each other in very unconventional ways. Miles will then go and mimic these actions with his sister. Mrs. Grose is aware of this relationship between Quint and Miss Jessel, and does not approve. One day Miss Jessel and Mrs. Grose hear struggling and screaming from the children, and go to investigate and discover them mimicing in a very dangerous manner one of the encounters they had witnessed between Miss Jessel and Quint. This of course forces Mrs. Grose to fire Miss Jessel, which upsets the children greatly and that's when the story gets disturbing. I can't say I would recommend The Nightcomers, or anything else by Michael Winner for that matter as this is my second Winner film and I have come to discover he is a very sub-par director. The acting is also very poor, especially by Thora Hird and the children. Not worth your time. Overall 1.5/4 Stars Grade = C-


Anonymous said...

The Nightcomers is a fascinating film due to Marlon Brando and Stephanie Beacham's uninhibted performances as well as the extremely adult and graphic approach that director Michael Winner takes with the material. The movie is not completely successful and there are plenty of noticeable problems with Michael Hastings script as well as the lackluster score by composer Jerry Fielding, but if you’re willing to forgive them as well as Brando’s unconvincing attempt at an Irish accent, you might find a few things to enjoy in this unusual film.

Amanda and SuperAmanda™ said...

Piffle! Winner is a great director and this film a landmark for sex onscreeen. You have clearly not seen much of what Winner has done. His best work is before 1972.