Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

THE BEGUILED

Geraldine Page, Clint Eastwood, Elizabeth Hartman
THE BEGUILED (1971). Director: Don Siegel.

During the civil war a wounded Union soldier, John (Clint Eastwood), winds up at a Southern girls school run by Martha (Geraldine Page) and her assistant, Edwina (Elizabeth Hartman). These two women and a couple of the nubile students are mightily intrigued by this Yankee, and agree to keep him hidden in the school until he's recovered, as they are afraid in his condition he might die in a rebel prison. With survival uppermost in his mind, John romances the two ladies, tells them anything they want to hear, and unsuccessfully fends off the advances of sexy student, Carol (Jo Ann Harris). Finally one night he gets an invitation from all three women, but whose bed should he go to, and what will the consequences be if he makes the wrong choice ...? The Beguiled is more about sexual tension than about anything else, and on that level it succeeds, although it could be argued that it's somewhat sexist and even rather silly at times. In spite of that the movie has a certain fascination. Eastwood [Revenge of the Creature] is more than adequate, although he's out-acted by his two powerhouse co-stars, with Page [Sweet Bird of Youth] convincing as the headmistress with her pansexual fantasies, and Hartman excellent as the virginal spinster who's come to see John as her escape. Harris, Pamelyn Ferdin [The Mephisto Waltz] as 13-year-old Amy, and Mae Mercer as the black servant, Hallie, are also notable. Siegel also directed the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Verdict: Obvious but entertaining and nearly a classic. ***.

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