It has been 10 years since we have lost the effervescent Deborah Kerr but luckily she left us with a lifetime of movie watching.
While the two of us watched whatever we could get our hands on, our goal is to always watch three of the same films together in order to create a deeper discussion. Check out our complete LETTERBOXD for everything that we watched as well as our pick for the Must-See Deborah Kerr movie.
An early predecessor to the Nunsploitation films prominent throughout the 1970s, BLACK NARCISSUS may not be the most conventional of exploitation films featuring nuns but it works as long as Sister Ruth is involved.
A group of nuns seek a remote Himalayan village to set up a school and hospital for the indigenous people. They set up this new covenant in a palace previously utilized as a Harem and is now owned by the wealthy "Young General". It is apparent over time that the two opposing societies struggle to hold control over this land. The nuns attempt to create a cultured place of teaching, healing, and worship but the tide soon changes. In order to stay at the palace, Sister Clodagh allows the Young General entry to the women and children only teaching environment. From here on out, the struggle is lost and the nunnery soon spirals into chaos.
There are the struggle and cultural misunderstandings (both on and off the screen) is the base of this film but it all comes down to Deborah Kerr's overwhelmed Sister Clodagh facing off against Kathleen Byron's unhinged Sister Ruth. Both are equally fantastic and completely make the movie even if there was nothing else there... but there is so much more.
Powell and Pressburger (The Archers) team up with cinematographer Jack Cardiff to create a vivid spectrum of colors to create an almost dreamlike atmosphere. Alongside the beautiful cinematography, they harnessed the full limits of technicolor by creating in-camera glass matte paintings to maintain color control.
Color is used even more to signify the sisters and their surroundings. This covenant conveniently wears all white habits. Throughout Sister Clodagh's decent into madness the pure white innocence of her habit becomes dirty and tarnished the more she loses control of her nunnery. When it's time for Sister Ruth to let her freak flag fly, her face becomes pale, her lips terrifyingly red, her black hair exposed, her eyes and clothing as dark as her soul. The Archer's create an amazingly tense climax between Clodagh and Ruth at the edge of the belltower. It is a complete movie through and through and one that cannot be missed.
And just when you think you've seen it all, there's Mr. Dean and his tiny pony.
On the surface level, it plays out like just another Hammer Horror film; Although it was not under the Hammer productions nor did the director, Jack Clayton, want it to be confused with the style. The finished product is much more acutely polished with a more cerebral style of fear. The kind of horror movie that creates a narrative through its story equally with its visuals.
Deborah Kerr (amazing as always) plays the demure Miss Giddens as she takes over the paternal responsibilities of two young children Miles and Flora. Before long, whispering voices and shadowy figures torment Miss Giddens. But the balance and deception that Clayton expertly crafts, creates a genuinely haunting atmosphere of distrust and sanity.
The first thing that popped into my head within the first 15 minutes of the movie was... "I think Guillermo Del Torro would love this". Not just within the obvious case of CRIMSON PEAK but within other work like PAN'S LABYRINTH and DEVIL'S BACKBONE. With a little bit of research wouldntcha know, THE INNOCENTS was one of GDT's main influences for CRIMSON PEAK. THE INNOCENTS screams of passion, style, and mystery and leaves you hanging with a sense of unease, a dose of astonishment and a final WTF head scratching moment.
THE GYPSY MOTHS
THE GYPSY MOTHS
It felt more like one of those True-Life documentaries that Disney used to produce back in the 50s. Almost like Frankenheimer wanted to get in on that new skydiving craze all the kids are talking about. There's a lot of buildup to a trio of guys jumping out of a plane and the piece de resistance being the "cape jump" which by today's standards is extremely tame. The ending has a nice and unexpected twist, however, leaves us with about a 20-minute ending of predictability. Maybe the only thing that made it particularly unexpected is just how bland the rest of the story was. Kerr is elegant as ever. Hackman is a firecracker of energy. Lancaster sleepwalks himself right into his very last scene.
It's surprising that this was one of Frankenheimer's very favorite movies. Different strokes I guess.
The two of us watched 8 Deborah Kerr films. Check out the entire list on LETTERBOXD.