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The Chalk Garden
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The peculiar antics of Laurel (Hayley Mills), an emotionally troubled young girl, are the focus of The Chalk Garden - a stately household drama set on the cliffs of the English south coast. Edith Evans plays a matriarchal grandmother who, in raising her granddaughter, has neglected her other love - a barren chalk garden. Mayhem ensues as Laurel's behavior frightens away a succession of governesses until an enigmatic one (Deborah Kerr) is hired in spite of her mysterious references. She skillfully sets about tending to the girl's reckless emotions and the pitifully failed garden. John Mills (Hayley's real-life father) plays the compassionate butler working overtime to maintain order in this unpredictable environment.
- Aspect Ratio : 1.78:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medNotRated NR (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 7.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches; 3.5 Ounces
- Item model number : USMD5199DVD
- Director : Ronald Neame
- Media Format : Color, NTSC, Widescreen
- Run time : 1 hour and 46 minutes
- Release date : January 11, 2010
- Actors : Deborah Kerr, Hayley Mills, John Mills, Dame Edith Evans, Felix Aylmer
- Producers : Ross Hunter
- Studio : Universal Pictures
- ASIN : B0033PSH54
- Writers : John Michael Hayes
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #29,293 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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First of all, I'm very happy with the quality of the DVD. It's obvious that it isn't digitally inhanced in any way, but still I have no complaints with the color and clarity.
Second, the movie itself is one that I think will continue to be enjoyed by many for years to come. The performances were absolutely stellar. Hayley Mills was totally believable as Laurel the obnoxious teen who did and said outragous things to get attention. She recognized immediately that she had met her match with Miss Madrigal and it was fun watching them banter with one another. Deborah Kerr, as usual, was absolutely stunning as the cool and keenly observant Miss Madrigal. From the moment she came on the scene, I could hardly take my eyes off of her. I loved how her beauty was even more enhanced by everything about her being toned down. That is something that I don't think was hard to do with Deborah Kerr! Yes, I'm a huge fan! The conversation on the bus between Miss Madrigal and Laurel is one of my favorites from any movie. The older woman's facial expressions were fantastic. John Mills was witty and likeable as, Maitland, keeper of the asylum, so to speak. The exchange between him and Laurel towards the end when Laurel finally realizes that she's taken things too far was amazing. Dame Edith Evans was just right as the pearl-clutching, selfish, and over indulgent Mrs. St. Maugham. She had a difficult time realizing that in trying to preserve her legacy, she was destroying the keeper of it. Oh, and I chuckled everytime she would trill her Rs. It reminded me of another dame, Wendy Hiller, in "Anne of Avonlea".
All in all, it is a really good film and I will enjoy many more times before it's all said and done. My favorite line from this film is one that I will remember for a long time. At the end when Maitland asks Miss Madrigal what she will do next, she replies, "Continue to explore the astonishment of living." Now that is something to give one pause.
Top reviews from other countries
Enid Bagnold, later Lady Jones, wife of the Chairman of Reuters, was born in Rochester, Kent in 1889. She had an interesting life, working as a nurse and then as a driver in France, in WW1. Her major claim to fame in the world of film, was as the author of the 1935 novel ‘National Velvet’. This became an iconic American film in 1944, starring a very young Elizabeth Taylor.
In 1955, Bagnold wrote a play, ‘The Chalk Garden’, set in Kent and inspired by the family house, in Rottingdean, near Brighton. The house had originally been owned by the artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones. Bagnold anticipated a British production, but fate dictated an American premier, and the play opened, to enthusiastic reviews, on Broadway in October 1955, then transferred successfully to the UK. It had quite starry associations from the beginning, with American film director George Cukor masterminding it’s development in the US, and Cecil Beaton designing the costumes. Ross Hunter, the American producer responsible for such hits as ‘Magnificent Obsession’(1954) and ’Pillow Talk’(1959) ensured that Universal acquired the film rights, and initially advocated the action be moved to Carmel, California, because he thought the British setting ‘dreary’! Fortunately he changed his mind.
Hunter and the director, Ronald Neame ~ who became very successful with ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’(1969) and ‘The Poseidon Adventure’(1972) ~ had several disagreements, over the look of the film, and some of the cast. In particular, Hunter wanted Ingrid Bergman in the governess role taken by Deborah Kerr, and Gladys Cooper (who had the role on Broadway) as the elderly and single-minded grandmother. For various reasons his choices were unavailable, and he was persuaded to agree to Edith Evans taking the role of the grandmother, after meeting her. Evans had been in the role on the London stage. In the event, she was OSCAR-nominated, and both she and Kerr were BAFTA-nominated.
Far from being ‘dreary’, this is handsome and beautifully filmed, up on the chalk cliffs and in the nearby house. The music is by composer Malcolm Arnold. Kerr and Evans are superb, as they struggle with and disagree over, the care of troubled teenager Hayley Mills. Mills, aged 18 but playing 16, is affecting, annoying, troubling, in equal measure, whilst dad, John Mills, gives able support as the butler. This is quite a strange but rather seductive drama, perhaps a little stagy, but intensely English and very entertaining.