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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

THE NANNY (1965)

THE NANNY (1965). Director: Seth Holt. Screenplay by Jimmy Sangster.

A ten-year-old boy, Joey Fane (William Dix), suspected of being responsible for the drowning death of his younger sister, comes home from an institution and gets into a battle of wits with the middle-aged nanny (Bette Davis, pictured) -- in the process testing the patience of his stern father (James Villiers) and fragile, emotionally-devastated mother (Wendy Craig). But does his hatred of the nanny perhaps have a basis in reality? This very suspenseful movie keeps you guessing nearly until the end, and Davis' excellent performance [for once her latter-day affected style works to her advantage] doesn't give it away. Little Dix, a remarkably confident and talented child actor, is more than a match for Davis, and the other performances, including that of Jill Bennett as his aunt with a weak heart, are all very effective. Pamela Franklin is also good as a young upstairs neighbor who wonders if it's nanny or little Joey who's nuts. Very interesting story with a moving finale. Dix later appeared in Doctor Doolittle but his career did not continue into adulthood.

Verdict: One of Hammer studios' best pictures. ***1/2.

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