Marlon Brando, one of the most gifted actors of this century, couldn't manage to turn this sow's ear into much more than a slightly improved sow's ear. It's loosely based on Henry James' Turn of the Screw, which also served as the basis for the excellent film, THE INNOCENTS, but there the
resemblance stops. This is a preamble to that film (the way BUTCH AND SUNDANCE: THE EARLY DAYS was prefatory to BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, although made later) and fails to satisfy on most levels. It's England in the early 1900s, and Ellis and Harvey are living in an old, dark house under
the supervision of Beacham, their governess, and Hird, the housekeeper. Their parents have been killed in an accident, and their uncle, Andrews, has entrusted their care to these two women. Brando, an Irish gardener and stableman, keeps to himself. The two children like Brando, and he is very
gentle with them, explaining how they will eventually be with their parents in death and that their folks have gone to a better place. Harvey and Ellis have no one else to talk to that they like, so Brando becomes their surrogate father. They soon have their illusions shattered when they find that
Brando enjoys tying up Beacham and whacking her around a bit before they make love. They can't quite fathom that and begin to imitate Beacham and Brando until Hird catches them. She is enraged and tosses Brando out of the mansion when she learns how the kids came to know of such matters. Beacham
is ready to quit, guilt-ridden over what has transpired, and the kids are disturbed that their tranquil home will be split, so they do what they think is right to make certain that Brando and Beacham will be together forever: they tell Beacham that Brando is waiting for her on a small island in
the middle of the deep lake on the property. When Beacham rows out on the lake late at night, the boat, sabotaged by the children, sinks, sending her to a watery grave. On the following morning, Brando arrives and is stunned by the discovery of Beacham's bloated body. As he walks toward the
mansion, Ellis sends a steel-tipped arrow through his head. No one finds the bodies, and when Palk, the new governess, arrives to take over Beacham's duties, she is assured by Hird that Ellis and Harvey are perfect little angels.
Winner, who made some of the worst pictures ever, continues his pattern here. Brando's career might have vanished entirely were it not for the fact that THE GODFATHER opened a few weeks later. Co-exec-producers Elliott and Jay Kanter and Alan Ladd, Jr. were reunited when Ladd took over the reins
at MGM in the 1980s after an abortive run with his own company.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1971
- Rating: R
- Review: Marlon Brando, one of the most gifted actors of this century, couldn't manage to turn this sow's ear into much more than a slightly improved sow's ear. It's loosely based on Henry James' Turn of the Screw, which also served as the basis for the excellent f… (more)