The Beguiled : The Film - The Book
You would of thought Martha Farnsworth (Geraldine Page) had a lot on her plate already, by being a Headmistress of an all-girls school. So why does she do it? Huh? Why does she take in the badly wounded Yankee Corporal -- John McBurney (Clint Eastwood) -- when she knows he's an enemy soldier? Moreover, why does she also shield him, and instruct the members of her staff to take care of him, especially when she hardly has the resources to maintain her own educational establishment?
OK. I know what you're thinking to yourself: What about John? Right? How does he feel about being locked up-with a house full of secluded women? Bewildered? Confused? Or just kind of horny?
Yeah. That's about right. To all three point's actually. Especially the last one. Because one, by one, by one, John tries to wrangle his way into each of these lasses affections -- some more than others -- just so he can make his escape with a spring in his step.
Still, that's most probably why what next transpires commences when a badly wounded Yankee Corporal makes a very bad move. As legs have no kick - a Headmistress looses her wick - a schoolmarm shies at a scoff - and please be careful, I think the mushrooms might have gone off.
When I first watched 'The Beguiled' many moons ago, I have to confess, I wasn't too sure about it myself. In my eyes this old-school yarn felt very like 'The Man with No Name Verses a Girls School'. Plus it didn't have that rhythmical spark most of Clint's other movies had at the time.
However, now that I am a bit older, and can disassociate Mister Eastwood from his roles in the Sergio Leone films, I can categorically state for the record that this film is a masterpiece. Yeah. Straight up. It's like a Grimm's fairy-tale mixed in with a civil war melodrama -- amalgamating these two concepts into one, whilst dousing it with a heavy dose of temptation, suspense, and love.
Well, one of the most intriguing factors about this adventure; is how it manages to prompt us -- the viewer -- to think about who's in the wrong? Is it Clint's character: because of his underhanded ways? Is it Geraldine Page's character: because of her own controlling manner? Is it Elizabeth's and Joe's characters: because of there emotional temperaments? Or are all of them to blame? Every single one of them guilty or innocent, one way or another!
Also, yet another thing I enjoyed, were the montage sequences too. Not only were they very artistically done, but they complemented the overall story as well.
Honestly, this flick is a really great flick. If you like your melodramas, Gothic, timely, sexually-driven, and tinged with death, 'The Beguiled' is defiantly for you. Otherwise I'd say watch something by Ben Stiller instead, because that'll most probably be up your alley.
On a end note, I'd like to inform you that the actress who played Edwina Dabney in this film, Elizabeth Hartman, committed suicide in 1987, by jumping out of a fifth floor window. This article is dedicated to her memory.