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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

4.5 out of 5 stars 178 customer reviews

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(Jul 06, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Based on Muriel Spark?s best-selling novel, the film The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie earned a Best Actress Oscar for its star, Maggie Smith, in 1969. The theme song, ?Jean? written by Rod McKuen, was also nominated for a Best Song Academy Award. An inspiration to the young girls she teaches and a challenge to the 1932 Edinburgh school who retains her services, Jean Brodie (Smith) espouses her wisdom on art and music, defends fascism, and otherwise encourages fiercely independent thinking in her students. As she engages in ongoing battles with the school?s rigid heads and bewilders two men in love with her, Miss Brodie also faces the biggest trial of her life when her career and livelihood become threatened.

Special Features

  • Still gallery

Product Details

  • Actors: Maggie Smith, Gordon Jackson, Robert Stephens, Pamela Franklin, Celia Johnson
  • Directors: Ronald Neame
  • Writers: Jay Presson Allen, Muriel Spark
  • Producers: James Cresson, Robert Fryer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 1.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: July 6, 2004
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001US78G
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,575 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Here's a film whose reputation seems to have declined over the years. Highly regarded and hugely successful when it first came out, it now seems a bit static with a plot that is a tad too predictable. The main attraction of the film was always the mesmerising and award-winning performance of Maggie Smith. But today some people might find her acting overly mannered or too theatrical. However, I am not one of them. I have always thought that Maggie Smith was one of the finest actresses ever. And a genuine eccentric.

The film consists of lots and lots of dialogue delivered in quaint Scottish accents. (The accents are not as much a problem for American audiences as they are in other films such as Gregory's Girl.) There is an occasional glimpse of old Edinburgh but, for the most part, the settings are confined to interiors. The film is directed and photographed professionally and unobtrusively. The 1930's period is nicely byt subtly evoked. The one discordant element is the rather twee musical score by Rod McKuen. The emphasis, as in a play, is on the characters.

The supporting cast are just that but most of them manage to have their moments. Robert Stephens (married to Maggie Smith at the time) is quite good as a slightly bohemian art teacher. Gordon Jackson steps somewhat out of his usual typecasting to portray a wimp of a music teacher. Celia Johnson is positively evil as the jealous and strait-laced headmistress. Best of all is Pamela Franklin as Miss Brodie's pet pupil - a nicely shaded and slightly underplayed performance that both contrasts and complements Maggie Smith's flamboyant turn.

And it is Maggie Smith that you will be mostly watching.
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By A Customer on December 30, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
First you must understand that I am not an easy critic, I notice all the little things in a movie that others might overlook or just choose to ignore.
That said, this is a brilliant (but not perfect)movie.
The acting of Maggie Smith is superb beyond words. She starts out as a heroine, just the type of teacher we would all like to have. As the movie progresses, the character of Miss Brodie moves closer and closer to a breakdown. What's brilliant is that this peril is obvious to the viewer, but not to Miss Brodie herself, a most difficult task for a screen-writer, a director, and an actress to accomplish.
The depiction of Edinburgh in the 30's is so realistic that you really feel as though you've been put into some sort of time machine- this is one of my favorite aspects of the film, and also the beautifully haunting soundtrack. I truly admire when a film is able to transport you to another place and time and make you truly feel it.
The movie is quite different from the book to be sure (aren't they all?) but the location filming, and the truly brilliant acting overcome any drawbacks.
The film is also notable for the performance of Pamela Franklin.
If you've only seen her in Disney movies, be prepared for a very different Pamela Franklin this time around.
I have watched this film over 10 times now and still do not fully understand it. Is Miss Brodie the Miss-understood heroine? Or is she truly a dangerous person intent on using others so that she can live vicariously through them? Is the film a warning to all of us that evil lurks where least expected? Or is it a trip inside our souls, in those deep somber moments where we have all been betrayed by our dearest and most trusted friends?
Watch the film and decide for yourself. Either way, you will have a beautiful journey thru the very mind and soul of a most complex character, in a nostalgic era, brilliantly portrayed by Maggie Smith.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
You only begin to understand what the writer and screenwriter of "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" is trying to say when you realize that the student who ultimately becomes the most like Miss Brodie (Maggie Smith) is Sandy (Pamela Franklin), and that the story is really being told from Sandy's point-of-view. She learns to be as judgmental and irresponsible as her teacher, full of misguided ideals and grievances, and totally confident that the world is as simplistic as she wants it to be. Which is why the film begins with a shot of Miss Brodie on her way to the school and goes out on a shot of Sandy leaving the school, with a Brodie voice-over about her teaching philosophy.

Once you understand that the Sandy transformation is the principle dynamic, the rest of the story fits together rather smoothly. The on-going struggle between Miss Brodie and the headmistress is almost a Hitchcock McGuffin, providing a lot of character motivation but ultimately of little importance.

Another key is the use of Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott". "When the Moon was overhead, Came two young lovers lately wed; "I am half sick of shadows," said The Lady of Shalott."

In the poem she is a magical being who lives alone on an island upstream from King Arthur's Camelot. Her purpose is to look at the world outside her castle window in a mirror, and to weave what she sees into a tapestry. She is forbidden by the magic to look at the outside world directly. Looking at the world in a mirror and depicting it in a work of art is an allegory for the life of a teacher viewing the world from an ivory tower and interpreting it for her young students. And Miss Brodie's often fearless lifestyle is much like the heroic action taken by Tennyson's lady which leads to her doom.
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