Vicky recently lent me the film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on DVD. I'd heard of but never seen it. Things did not bode well initially as I fell quickly into a short succession of naps whilst viewing. Being the soldier that I am, I gamely went back and picked up where I left off each time.
Accolades aside, what shall remain with me First, Last, Always! is the gathering of one of the most hideous female casts of all time. I think she's enormously talented but come on, don't you think that when Maggie Smith was born, someone had to have thought if not exclaimed aloud 'oh my, she looks 40 already'.
My gerrrrrls indeed: The headmistress, her near mute secretary, the other denizens of the school - ruff rough ruff. The young students weren't as jarring to look at with perhaps the exception of poor Mary MacDonald, our girl of the sideways looks, those eyes may haunt me for some time. And Mary with a stutter as well, doomed from the start.
It was a treat to see 'Hudson' from Upstairs, Downstairs (Gordon Jackson) in the cast and interesting to learn afterward that the art teacher Teddy Lloyd (Robert Stephens) was Maggie's real life husband at the time.
The film follows Jean Brodie teachings and attempts at molding her young students with what she believes to be a progressive vision of what a modern young woman should be. In a conservative school for gerrrrls, this causes a great deal of friction between Jean and the headmistress. Being a force of nature and a redhead however, there's no stopping her.
Jean's a bit lost and rather contemptible as you learn through shifts in your perception as events unfold. There's a definite tribute due the director, material and the performers in the subtlety of how this plays out. The climactic showdown between teacher and student Sandy who refuses to accept that Miss Brodie in indeed in her prime and qualified to pass on her wisdom is well worth the rather long viewing time.
Repetitive in parts, it was overall, a fine and enjoyable piece of work -- one of those films that the more you think about, the more it grows on you.