THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE
1969, 20th Century Fox, 116 min, UK, Dir: Ronald Neame

Miss Jean Brodie is a teacher at a Scottish girls’ school in the 1930s who rankles fellow faculty members with her free-thinking lessons and inordinate sway over her young charges. One of those is prize pupil Sandy (an exceptional Pamela Franklin), who comes to learn that her teacher has a manipulative side. Directed by Ronald Neame and adapted by Jay Presson Allen from her play, the film is a tour de force for Maggie Smith, who earned a Best Actress Oscar in the title role. (Rod McKuen’s bittersweet “Jean” also earned Academy recognition, garnering a Best Song nomination).


THE FOOD OF THE GODS
1976, 88 min, USA, Dir: Bert I. Gordon

In this cult classic adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel, a strange substance bubbling up on an island in British Columbia puts everything that eats it on a serious growth spurt; when a pro footballer (Marjoe Gortner) and his friends go camping on the island, giant killer wasps are just the beginning of their problems. Another enjoyable exploitation effort by director Bert I. Gordon (AIP’s go-to guy for nature-gone-bad flicks), FOOD OF THE GODS slips in sly winks at fundamentalists, ecologists and capitalists while critters the size of SUVs stalk the screen. Also starring Pamela Franklin, Ralph Meeker and the great Ida Lupino, who starts the whole thing off by feeding the mysterious goo to her chickens.


THE INNOCENTS
1961, 20th Century Fox, 100 min, UK, Dir: Jack Clayton

Director Jack Clayton also directed British New Wave gems ROOM AT THE TOP and THE PUMPKIN EATER, but his most famous film remains this goosepimple-inducing, shuddery adaptation of Henry James’ classic ghost story, “Turn Of The Screw.” Deborah Kerr is a repressed governess who is convinced that the ghosts of the previous governess and the woman’s equally dead, cruel lover, Quint (Peter Wyngarde), haunt the mansion and grounds of her innocent young charges (Martin Stephens, Pamela Franklin). Reality, superstition and warped psychology collide in this riveting, brilliantly photographed jewel of a film (lensed by future horror director Freddie Francis).


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