There have been dozens of adaptations of Henry James’ classic ghost story novel The Turn of the Screw but nothing has been as good as the 1961 adaptation The Innocents.

Deborah Kerr has just been hired to be the governess for two orphaned children. Their parents were killed and now they are in the care of their uncle. The uncle doesn’t want anything to do with the kids and has hired the governess to handle everything, and he means everything. He doesn’t want to receive any messages about anything from the governess or ever be bothered with a problem concerning the kids. It should be noted that the previous governess has died while looking after the kids for a year. Kerr arrives at the country estate where she meets the housekeeper and the girl Flora. The boy Miles is at boarding school but he has been expelled and is coming home. Soon Kerr starts noticing strange things. She soon starts to believe that the children are being haunted by the previous governess and her lover, the valet Peter Quint. But are there really ghosts or is it all in the governess’ head?

James’ original novel was published in 1898 but the story is timeless. It’s also somewhat ambiguous. It’s never really clear if there are ghosts or not. It’s a little harder create that ambiguity on film but director Jack Clayton tries. The script was co-written by Truman Capote and the excellent cinematography was the work of Hammer director Freddie Francis. The results are creepy film that builds atmosphere until the shocking conclusion.