Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Nanny (1965)

It’s always the films that you have no expectations of that turn out to be real gems.  I certainly didn’t expect a tense thriller which kept me guessing as to who to believe right to the end of the film.  The nanny in question is played by the excellent Bette Davis, and she has worked for the Fane family for many years; however, about 6 years ago there was an accident which resulted in the death of the youngest Fane child, Susy.  Shortly after, Susy’s elder brother Joey was shipped out to a home for disturbed children; but now Joey is coming home, will the past catch up with everyone?

The film is full of mystery as it is not until a good way into the film that we start to get an idea of the history of the nanny (I don’t think she actually had a name), and even then we don’t know whose version to trust.  It is clear that Joey is very mistrustful of Nanny, and at the heart of this relationship is a wonderful performance from Bette Davis and William Dix who plays the role of the 10 year old Joey.  William (who actually was 10 when the film was released) is truly brilliant; he’s very sure of himself and is having none of the fussing that Nanny is foisting upon him.  He is a little cocky but stops short of being arrogant, consequently I loved every scene he was in, and his scenes with Bette Davis were full of an intensity you wouldn’t expect from one so young.

The black and white photography adds to the mysterious ambience of the movie, and there are a few noticeable tracking shots which help give an idea of the size of the Fane house and give the movie a more polished feel than perhaps you might expect.  Actually this might be expected of cameraman Kelvin Pike, who was good enough to get the attention of Stanley Kubrick, consequently he can list The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey on his CV.  Everything comes together beautifully; the intriguing plot, the marvellous relationship between Nanny and Joey, the cinematography and the camerawork to give an excellent final product that had me guessing all the way through.  A great and hugely enjoyable Hammer production.  But, well, you know, that’s just, like, er, my opinion, man.