I so enjoy old movies. One of my favorite actresses is Deborah Kerr and for me her best movie was "The Chalk Garden" (January 1964).
The movie in a nutshell is about Madrigal (Deborah Kerr), an Englishwoman recently released from prison after serving time for murder, arrives at the home of Mrs. St. Maugham (Edith Evans) to apply for the position of governess and companion to the elderly woman's 16-year-old granddaughter, Laurel (Hayley Mills).
She is hired, despite her lack of references, primarily for her knowledge of gardening because Mrs. St. Maugham has difficulty raising anything in the chalky earth of her garden. Madrigal keeps her past a secret, but Laurel, who lives in a partial fantasy world (she hates her mother whom she believes abandoned her when she divorced and remarried) tries to uncover the secrets of her new governess. Maitland (John Mills), the butler, becomes attracted to Madrigal and tells her that Laurel's wild tales are untrue. When the judge (Felix Aylmer) who convicted Madrigal comes to lunch, he does not recognize her, but they get into a heated discussion about the case.
Laurel suspects that Madrigal is the murderess in question but makes a pact with Maitland never to reveal her suspicion. Madrigal realizes that Laurel is much the same as she was at 16 and fears that Laurel might make the same mistakes if she is not told the truth about her mother. She tells Mrs. St. Maugham that Laurel's mother should be allowed to have her, and Laurel, overhearing them, realizes that she was never abandoned. When her mother arrives, Laurel is ready to go with her, and Madrigal remains at the house as companion to Mrs. St. Maugham.
Synopsis Courtesy of Turner Classic Movies
The Chalk Garden is an intense, wonderful psychological game of cat and mouse. It has excellent performances from all involved and the writing and direction is superb. I want so much to order it on DVD. (It's $30 new ... OUCH!!)
"At our last meeting, I died. It alters the appearance." A quote from the character from Madrigal/Constance speaking to the judge in a chance meeting. I can so relate to her character. I've never been jailed, of course, but I was in a mental jail from an abusive parent. My mother died in 1966 and my father tore up his parent card. When I allowed Christ to come into my life at the age of 14, God mercifully gave me the Key to get out ... and I did. I ran to that mental door and freedom!
Anyway, The Chalk Garden speaks volumes to me. Does anyone else enjoy this movie? Or are there any others you'd like to recommend?
I also like the old horror movies from the 1960's and 1970's. It's fun to curl up on the sofa with husband and watch them with popcorn on Halloween. Reminds me of when I was a little kid, mom was still alive, and I would watch those old movies on our 'big' 12 inch console TV that sat on the floor. Such delightful memories. :o)