Review: ‘The Witches’

Despite a very professional cast, this Nigel Kneale script [from Peter Curtis' novel The Devil's Own] doesn't spark off enough horror and tension to make the picture more than routine entertainment. This one has the air of a film that has lost its way.

Despite a very professional cast, this Nigel Kneale script [from Peter Curtis’ novel The Devil’s Own] doesn’t spark off enough horror and tension to make the picture more than routine entertainment. This one has the air of a film that has lost its way.

Joan Fontaine is a schoolmistress who endures a horrible traumatic witch-doctor experience in an African mission. She seeks a new, peaceful life in a British village as headmistress of the local school, but she realizes that the village is under some strange spell.

Cyril Frankel has directed the slightly phony script with skill. But, mainly, it is the acting that keeps this pic alive. Fontaine brings a sensitive air to her thesping, but there’s not enough fiber in her role to give her full scope. Kay Walsh is excellent as an enigmatic journalist and Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies, making one of her rare screen appearances, is dominating as the grandmother.

The Witches

UK

Production

Hammer. Director Cyril Frankel; Producer Anthony Nelson Keys; Screenplay Nigel Kneale; Camera Arthur Grant; Editor James Needs, Chris Barnes; Music Richard Rodney Bennett; Art Director Bernard Robinson

Crew

(Color) Extract of a review from 1966. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Joan Fontaine Kay Walsh Alec McCowen Ann Bell Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies Ingrid Brett
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