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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Maggie Smith's tour-de-force performance as a school-teacher slipping into spinsterhood is one of several notable achievements in this sentimental and macabre personal tragedy.

Maggie Smith’s tour-de-force performance as a school-teacher slipping into spinsterhood is one of several notable achievements in this sentimental and macabre personal tragedy.

Jay Presson Allen adapted her own play [based on a novel by Muriel Spark]. The story, set in 1930s Edinburgh, treats in a tenderly savage way the decline of an age-resisting school-marm who lives too vicariously through a select group of prodigy-stooges. The telling involves elements of warm humor, biting sarcasm, pity, contempt, betrayal, and despair.

Smith’s performance is a triumph. Other cast principals, all of whom project excellent performances, include Robert Stephens, the art teacher, Pamela Franklin, cast as a mysteriously-adult child and the eventual betrayor of Smith, and Gordon Jackson is impressive as the pitiable, gutless music teacher. Celia Johnson’s key adversary role as the school head-mistress comes off magnificently.

1969: Best Actress (Maggie Smith).

Nomination: Best Song (‘Jean’)

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

UK

  • Production: 20th Century-Fox. Director Ronald Neame; Producer Robert Fryer; Screenplay Jay Presson Allen; Camera Ted Moore; Editor Norman Savage; Music Rod McKuen; Art Director John Howell
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1969. Running time: 116 MIN.
  • With: Maggie Smith Robert Stephens Pamela Franklin Gordon Jackson Celia Johnson Jane Carr
  • Music By: