The Nightcomers (1972)

R | 95-97 mins | Drama | February 1972

Director:

Michael Winner

Producer:

Michael Winner

Cinematographer:

Robert Paynter

Production Designer:

Herbert Westbrook

Production Company:

Scimitar Films Ltd.
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HISTORY

The Nightcomers was a co-production between British director Michael Winner's Scimitar Productions and Americans Jay Kanter, Alan Ladd, Jr. and Elliott Kastner, the agent of the film's star, Marlon Brando. After the film was a hit at the 1971 Venice Film Festival, it was picked up for distribution by Avco Embassy Pictures Corp. According to Var , in 1976 Joseph E. Levine and Avco Embassy Pictures were sued by real estate owner-builder Sigmond Sommer, who claimed that they owed him nearly $400,000 from his $1,000,000 investment in The Nightcomers . The outcome of that suit is unknown.
       The events in The Nightcomers precede those of Henry James's short story "The Turn of the Screw," in which the characters of "Miss Jessel" and "Peter Quint" have already died and return as ghosts who visit the children. For other works based on James's short story, see the entry above for the 1961 film The Innocents ... More Less

The Nightcomers was a co-production between British director Michael Winner's Scimitar Productions and Americans Jay Kanter, Alan Ladd, Jr. and Elliott Kastner, the agent of the film's star, Marlon Brando. After the film was a hit at the 1971 Venice Film Festival, it was picked up for distribution by Avco Embassy Pictures Corp. According to Var , in 1976 Joseph E. Levine and Avco Embassy Pictures were sued by real estate owner-builder Sigmond Sommer, who claimed that they owed him nearly $400,000 from his $1,000,000 investment in The Nightcomers . The outcome of that suit is unknown.
       The events in The Nightcomers precede those of Henry James's short story "The Turn of the Screw," in which the characters of "Miss Jessel" and "Peter Quint" have already died and return as ghosts who visit the children. For other works based on James's short story, see the entry above for the 1961 film The Innocents . More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
24 Jan 1972.
---
Box Office
28 Feb 1972
p. 4466.
Daily Variety
9 Sep 1971
p. 3.
Daily Variety
26 May 1972.
---
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 84-86.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 1971
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 1971
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 1972.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 May 1972.
---
New York Times
16 Feb 1972
p. 26.
Sight and Sound
Jan 1998
pp. 16-19.
Time
13 Mar 1972.
---
Variety
8 Sep 1971
p. 26.
Variety
16 Nov 1976
p. 33.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Kastner Ladd Kanter Scimitar Production/A Michael Winner film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITOR
Supv ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Const mgr
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd recordist
Sd recordist
Dubbing ed
Dial ed
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdressing
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Inspired by the short story "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James in his The Two Magics. The Turn of the Screw and Covering End (London, 1898).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
February 1972
Premiere Information:
Venice Film Festival screening: 30 August 1971
New York opening: 15 February 1972
Production Date:
26 January--mid March 1971 in Cambridgeshire, England
Copyright Claimant:
Avco Embassy Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
15 February 1972
Copyright Number:
LP40881
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
95-97
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Young Miles Tyrrell and his sister Flora live at Bly House, their family’s secluded country estate in England, while their parents tour the world. After their parents are killed in an automobile accident in France, their father’s cousin is appointed the children’s guardian and comes down from London to make arrangements for their care. The master of the house has little interest in the children or the countryside, and so delegates their supervision to the children’s governess, Margaret Jessel, the estate’s housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, and Irishman Peter Quint, who once served as Mr. Tyrrell’s valet, but who now is assigned the task of gardener. The guardian then leaves for London without informing the children of their parents' death. That task falls to Quint, who plays hide and seek with them and crafts dolls for them that look like Mrs. Grose, Miss Jessel, Miles, Flora and Quint. To help them deal with their loss, Quint reassures Flora and Miles that the dead will come back and stay with them forever, leading Flora to believe that to truly love, one has to die. Later, when the slovenly Quint dresses up in one of Tyrrell’s formal suits, Mrs. Grose, who detests him, calls him scum and threatens to have him fired. That night, Quint plays with the children and sticks pins in the doll that resembles Mrs. Grose. Afterward, Quint sneaks into Miss Jessel’s bedroom, where he ties her up with a rope as a prelude to having sex. Unknown to the lovers, Miles is watching them through the window. The next morning, Mrs. Grose catches Miss Jessel taking a drink, and ... +


Young Miles Tyrrell and his sister Flora live at Bly House, their family’s secluded country estate in England, while their parents tour the world. After their parents are killed in an automobile accident in France, their father’s cousin is appointed the children’s guardian and comes down from London to make arrangements for their care. The master of the house has little interest in the children or the countryside, and so delegates their supervision to the children’s governess, Margaret Jessel, the estate’s housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, and Irishman Peter Quint, who once served as Mr. Tyrrell’s valet, but who now is assigned the task of gardener. The guardian then leaves for London without informing the children of their parents' death. That task falls to Quint, who plays hide and seek with them and crafts dolls for them that look like Mrs. Grose, Miss Jessel, Miles, Flora and Quint. To help them deal with their loss, Quint reassures Flora and Miles that the dead will come back and stay with them forever, leading Flora to believe that to truly love, one has to die. Later, when the slovenly Quint dresses up in one of Tyrrell’s formal suits, Mrs. Grose, who detests him, calls him scum and threatens to have him fired. That night, Quint plays with the children and sticks pins in the doll that resembles Mrs. Grose. Afterward, Quint sneaks into Miss Jessel’s bedroom, where he ties her up with a rope as a prelude to having sex. Unknown to the lovers, Miles is watching them through the window. The next morning, Mrs. Grose catches Miss Jessel taking a drink, and noticing the bruises inflicted on her by Quint the night before, assumes that she suffering from a broken heart. When Mrs. Grose finds the doll in her image festooned with pins, she forbids Quint to ever enter the house again. That night, in the children’s shared bedroom, Miles pretends he is Quint and Flora Miss Jessel as he ties his sister to the bed. Upon opening the bedroom door, Mrs. Grose sees the children tussling on the bed and Miles explains that they are “doing sex.” The next day, Quint, Flora and Miles watch from the shore of the small lake on the estate as Miss Jessel climbs into a wooden rowboat and paddles to an island in the middle of the lake. That night, Quint sneaks into the house for a tryst with Miss Jessel, but is confronted on the stairway by Mrs. Grose, who levels a rifle at him. Daring her to pull the trigger, he is about to walk upstairs until Mrs. Grose threatens to write to the master and have him fired. Mrs. Grose then proceeds to Miss Jessel’s room, where the governess is eagerly awaiting her lover, and denounces her. As a result of Mrs. Grose's rebuke, Miss Jessel decides to stop seeing Quint, who enlists Miles’s help in arranging a rendezvous. Meanwhile, Miss Jessel and Flora are rowing the boat in the lake when Miss Jessel confides that she cannot swim. Afterward, Miles connives to trick Miss Jessel into meeting Quint by telling her that Quint does not care about her any more, prompting her to demand a meeting with Quint so that he can tell her to her face. The following day, Miles invites the unsuspecting Mrs. Grose into his tree house, and once she is inside, Flora removes the ladder, trapping her. That evening, Miles leads Quint to a turret, where Miss Jessel is waiting for him. As the children watch through a window, the governess, who is flattered that Quint would risk his job for her, begins to seduce him. However, when she declares that she is ending their relationship and insults him, Quint, enraged, begins to slap her and throws her to the ground. Frightened by the violence, the children run off and Miles finally releases Mrs. Grose from the tree house. The next morning, the children reenact the fight in the turret, and Miss Jessel, realizing that she is a bad influence on them, decides she must resign. When Flora begs her to stay, the governess states that even though she loves Quint, she must leave. Later, as Quint is playing with Flora and Miles, Miles asks him about love and death, to which Quint replies that sometimes you want to kill someone you love. The night before Miss Jessel is to leave, Miles uses an axe to punch a hole in the side of the boat, then slips a note under her door asking her to meet Quint on the island. After casting off from the dock, the boat begins to sink and panicking, Miss Jessel falls overboard and drowns. From the shore, Flora watches and declares that she must stay with them because they love her. Miss Jessel’s body washes up on the shore, where Quint finds it and carries it to drier land. At dinner, Mrs. Grose tells the children that Miss Jessel left to visit a sick relative, but Flora insists that she will come back. That dawn, the lonely Quint is strolling the marshes when Miles shoots him in the side with an arrow. After apologizing, Miles says that Miss Jessel is waiting for Quint, then shoots him in the head and pushes him into a bog. Soon after, the new governess arrives and Mrs. Grose introduces the children to her as “exquisite young angels". +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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