The Beguiled Cover Without putting too a finer point on it, it must be a right pain in the ass to be a 'casualty of war'. You'd have no hope. No underwear. And no legs either. Listen! I'm not messing with your melon, man! I saw it in this film Directed by Don Siegel; and Starring: Clint Eastwood, Geraldine Page, and Elizabeth Hartman. It was made in 1971, and lasted for a whole 105-minute's.

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?

Now her housekeeper, Hallie (Mae Mercer), has her suspicions -- relating to Martha's long-lost brother --but uncharacteristically keeps her opinions to herself. Her schoolmarm, Edwina Dabney (Elizabeth Hartman), on the other hand -- well -- she's too busy getting to know John, to even think about Martha's real motives! And as for the pupils in her school, some love him, others hate him, and one pupil in particular -- Carol-Anne (Jo Ann Harris) -- just wants to get into his pants.

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!

Clint and Seductress in The Beguiled

Clint and Geraldine in The Beguiled
My point does have some food for thought, though, doesn't it? Just like some of these filmic fact's I've cobbled together. (1) 'Universal Pictures' released this war-time melodrama on the 31st of March, 1971. (2) The screenplay was co-written by Albert Maltz -- who penned the previous Eastwood / Siegel collaboration, 'Two Mules for Sister Sarah' -- basing it on a Gothic novel devised by Thomas P. Cullinan, entitled 'A Painted Devil'. (3) The director of this film, Don Siegel, has publicly stated that it was the best film he's made. (4) Did you know that Clint Eastwood directed his first feature whilst making this movie? It was called 'The Storyteller'; and it was about how Don Siegel directed this movie. (5) Its a little known fact that Clint held the camera up, towards the girls, whilst they carried his character into the house for his introductory scene. (6) Before 'Universal' decided upon the name they eventually chose for this film, they previously considered calling it: 'Pussy-footing Down at the Old Plantation', and 'On One I Walked'. (7) Without giving too much away, Eastwood and Siegel fought 'Universal' to keep the ending of this adventure in, because the 'big wigs' didn't like it's somewhat bleak and baroque ending. (8) If you listen very closely to the whispered song sung at the beginning and the end of this movie, you'll notice that it's Clint singing this haunting lullaby. (9) Apart from those scenes shot in the studio, quite a bit of this production was recorded in Louisiana. Like at the 'Ashland-Belle Helene Plantation' in Geismer for example; and in Baton Rouge.

No Legs For Clint in The Beguiled

Clint's Directorial Debut in The Beguiled
Now another thing I really enjoyed about 'The Beguiled', was how the motives of each of the characters where highlighted in different ways. In the case of Clint's and Geraldine's characters; there was this fleeting flashback technique utilized -- juxtaposing what they were saying compared to what was the truth. And as for the rest of the girl's; there was a brief echo-like voice-over narration -- emphasizing what they couldn't say out loud to other people.

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.

Nuff said.


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.

RIP Elizabeth Hartman

THE BEGUILED THE BEGUILED Reviewed by David Andrews on April 03, 2013 Rating: 5
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