The Witches (1966)

DIRECTOR: Cyril Frankel
CAST: Joan Fontaine, Kay Walsh, Alec McCowen, Ann Bell, Ingrid Boulting, Martin Stephens, Michele Dotrice, John Collin, Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies, Duncan Lamont, Leonard Rossiter, Bryan Marshall

A teacher (Fontaine) takes on a new post at an English village school, but her past brushes with voodoo in Africa seem increasingly to haunt her.

The Witches is an underrated thriller, intelligently and suspensefully scripted by Nigel Kneale from a novel by Norah Lofts. It benefits from two strong performances from Kay Walsh and Alec McCowen; surprisingly, Fontaine's performance is merely adequate, rather than impressive. Her character, incidentally, is reminiscent of Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock's The Birds (1963) - she even bears a physical resemblance at times - where the mid-movie narrative shift echoes James Stewart's transformation in Vertigo (1958).

The village exteriors were filmed at Hambleden, in Buckinghamshire.

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David L Rattigan 2005
 

 

 

 

 

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