Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Chalk Garden (1964)

The Chalk Garden

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)

♥ ∞


girlsinwhitedresses said...

Thanks for the recommendation - I enjoy old movies too. They just evoke a less cynical time than we live in! I'm going to check this one out.

Iva said...

MB is more into the old movies than I am. But I might have to watch this sounds very interesting - and I really like Haley Mills.

Linda said...

I haven't seen this movie. Hey, I didn't get your email. smiles

Lavinia said...

Hello, I came here from Muse Swings. I love the movie Chalk Garden! It has been one of my favourites for years and years. It used to come on tv back in the 70's and 80's, once in a while and I tried never to miss it. I too love everything about it. The character of Madrigal, as well as the old lady and Hayley Mills did a great job as the rebellious teen who acted up and acted out because she was so deeply wounded inside. A great suspence movie and character study. I think the whole movie is on youtube, in segments. I would love to own this movie but like you, balk at the high price. Ouch indeed.

I did a post on Chalk Garden some months ago, I will try to find it and send you the link.

It's been good to find someone else who enjoys this movie!

Lavinia said...

For Heaven's sake, Sparky, I didn't even realize this was your blog! It looks so different! Now I read your header and realize its you, Musey's partner in crime, or is it Security you are in charge of? ha ha ha.....Ciao from lavinia!

Lanny said...

Ahhh what a wonderful way to waste a Sunday morning, watching a movie in pieces on youtube! I swing like a pendulum on whether I like or dislike Hailey Mills. "Mutha" it is fun to mimic her voice. I think watching these overly dramatic sixties movies has cause me permanant brain damage. "Oh dear, (hand sweeps up to forehead) I really must go, I must go prune those trees, (head begins shaking to and fro) how will I evea get done, how will life evea go on, how will spring evea come." (slowly leaves room, pausing to grasp the chair back for emphasis)"Oh deah."

Sparky ♥ ∞ said...

Susan, Iva ~ For me, it was a wonderful time too. Hayley Mills is one the actresses I enjoy. Her acting improved as she aged.

Linda ~ I'll try another e-mail. I accidently deleted the first one after it bounced. [sigh]

Lavinia ~ That's OK. I'm Janeen partner in crime ... no ... partner fighting crime! [lol] You just didn't know I changed the background. I may change it again as I notice the shamrocks are a bit TOO dark to read something comfortably. Yeah, I would like the link. I LOVE this movie! Thanks. :o)
BTW, did you see the sparkly at MuseSwings place? No touchy you bad girl!!!

Lanny ~ You are such a trip! I am laughing so hard I almost fell off my recliner! She does talk that way. As we used to say in the '80s "Too funny!" :o) ♥ ∞

Janeen said...

That's right my friend, set them straight! Crime prevention is our game.

Love the new background! Your always so clever with what you pick, I lurve it!

I love old classic movies too and DK is CLASSIC! You should definitely put this on your birthday wish list! Tell your girlfriends to go in on this one, it's keeper!

Sparky ♥ ∞ said...

Hi Janeen, "That's right, we bad!" LOL!!
That's a good idea about a DVD of this movie being a birthday gift. Hmmm ... I didn't think about that ... it would justify spending that much money. Thanks pal! ♥ ∞

Lavinia said...

Sparky, here's the link to the post I did on Chalk Garden last summer:

Lavinia said...

Sparky, here's the link to the post I did on Chalk Garden last summer: