Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 3. 1962.
Michael Redgrave hams it up for his few minutes on screen at the very beginning of the film and then vanishes never to return; the best acting comes from Megs Jenkins as the housekeeper. Deborah Kerr looks the part as a governess but such a sustained performance as is needed here is beyond her power. (I did like, however, her look of startled surprise when young Miles, bidding her goodnight, kisses her fully on the lips in an adult way. A satisfying close-up here, even if predictable.)
I'm sorry that the sinking feeling engendered by the arty arty simple folk song and pretentious titles opening the film is fully justified by the disappointment that follows—it would be nice to be able to praise the film for its good intentions alone.
(Henry James' The Turn of the Screw has been interpreted as an outpouring of the children's governess narrating the story, a fantasy resulting from her neurotic repression. This is her first position, she is obviously virginal, from a country parsonage, etc., etc., but James himself treated the story as cold fact and the demonic possession as actually having taken place. Clayton has also adopted this straightforward viewpoint in the film, though in this case it might have been more rewarding if there had been a hint of more than a trifle of mental unbalance in Miss Giddens' perception).