Friday, 13 July 2007

The Nanny (1965)

A Hammer film starring Bette Davis is something you don’t really expect to see. But The Nanny, made in 1965, is such a film. It isn’t really a typical Hammer film at all – it doesn’t have the typically gothic Hammer trappings, and it’s in black-and-white. It is, however, scripted by Jimmy Sangster, who not only wrote an enormous number of films for Hammer but also wrote some of the best movies. The Nanny is in fact an exercise in psychological horror. And it’s a very fine movie indeed. A little girl has died under mysterious circumstances, and it appears that her brother was responsible for her death. Ten-year-old Joey has been spent two years in a home for disturbed children and now he’s coming home. And the child’s nanny (played by Bette Davis) is there to welcome him home, but young Joey and Nanny don’t get on. I won’t say anything more about the plot for fear of revealing spoilers. Davis is excellent, the young actor playing Joey is extremely good, and Pamela Franklin is outstanding as a 14-year-old girl who lives in the apartment upstairs and who befriends Joey. Wendy Craig is also good as Joey’s rather hysterical mother. Seth Holt’s direction is superb and contributes very effectively to the increasingly tense atmosphere of the movie. An excellent movie.

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