The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)

116 mins | Drama | 2 March 1969

Director:

Ronald Neame

Producer:

Robert Fryer

Cinematographer:

Ted Moore

Editor:

Norman Savage

Production Designer:

John Howell
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HISTORY

Jay Presson Allen’s play, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, based on Muriel Spark’s 1961 novel of the same name, debuted on 5 Apr 1966 in Torquay, England. Vanessa Redgrave won rave reviews in the leading role, and the play became a hit. Within weeks of the British opening plans for a Broadway production, to be produced by Robert Whitehead, were already underway, according to the 27 Apr 1966 Var. Later that year, the 13 Dec 1966 NYT announced producer Robert Fryer’s plans to make a screen adaptation for Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. Fryer, who had just signed a multiple-picture deal with the studio, was formerly a Broadway producer for over fifteen years.
       Vanessa Redgrave was sought to reprise her role in the picture, but the 18 Dec 1966 NYT stated that the idea bored her. Redgrave was quoted in the 26 Dec 1966 LAT, commenting about the character, “I shudder at the thought of being trapped inside her again. She was an absolute fabrication for me, quite unlike the other parts I’ve done.” The following year, an item in the 19 Jul 1967 DV announced the casting of Maggie Smith, and stated that filming would begin on 5 Apr 1968 in Great Britain. Ronald Neame was brought on to direct, as reported in a 5 Feb 1968 LAT item, and Smith’s husband, Robert Stephens, was cast in the co-starring role of “Teddy Lloyd.” Filming was slightly delayed until 29 Apr 1968, according to a 26 Apr 1968 DV brief. Ten days of rehearsal preceded the start of production, as noted in the ... More Less

Jay Presson Allen’s play, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, based on Muriel Spark’s 1961 novel of the same name, debuted on 5 Apr 1966 in Torquay, England. Vanessa Redgrave won rave reviews in the leading role, and the play became a hit. Within weeks of the British opening plans for a Broadway production, to be produced by Robert Whitehead, were already underway, according to the 27 Apr 1966 Var. Later that year, the 13 Dec 1966 NYT announced producer Robert Fryer’s plans to make a screen adaptation for Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. Fryer, who had just signed a multiple-picture deal with the studio, was formerly a Broadway producer for over fifteen years.
       Vanessa Redgrave was sought to reprise her role in the picture, but the 18 Dec 1966 NYT stated that the idea bored her. Redgrave was quoted in the 26 Dec 1966 LAT, commenting about the character, “I shudder at the thought of being trapped inside her again. She was an absolute fabrication for me, quite unlike the other parts I’ve done.” The following year, an item in the 19 Jul 1967 DV announced the casting of Maggie Smith, and stated that filming would begin on 5 Apr 1968 in Great Britain. Ronald Neame was brought on to direct, as reported in a 5 Feb 1968 LAT item, and Smith’s husband, Robert Stephens, was cast in the co-starring role of “Teddy Lloyd.” Filming was slightly delayed until 29 Apr 1968, according to a 26 Apr 1968 DV brief. Ten days of rehearsal preceded the start of production, as noted in the 21 Jul 1968 NYT.
       Principal photography began at Pinewood Studios in London, England.
The 22 May 1968 Var reported that, after ten weeks of filming at Pinewood, production would move to Edinburgh, Scotland, for one week of exteriors. Filming sites in Edinburgh included the historic Grassmarket and Greyfriars Kirkyard.
       The 10 Jun 1968 LAT listed Margaret Gordon as a cast member, and the 27 Jun 1968 DV noted that Maggy Maxwell would choreograph dancing sequences.
       The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was scheduled to premiere on 24 Feb 1969 as the “1969 Royal Command Film Performance,” to be attended by Queen Elizabeth, at Odeon Leicester Square in London. An item in the 24 Dec 1968 LAT stated that the charitable event was set to raise money for the Cinema and Television Benefit Fund. A New York City opening followed on 2 Mar 1969 at the Baronet Theater. The picture was met with largely positive reviews, and Maggie Smith received consistently high praise for her turn as “Jean Brodie.” One month after the U.S. release, the picture was invited to play as a British entry at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1969, the 10 Apr 1969 DV noted.
       Maggie Smith won an Academy Award for Best Actress, and the song “Jean” by Rod McKuen was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Music (Song—Original for the Picture). “Jean” won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, and became a popular tune: by early 1970, it had been recorded a total of eighty-nine times, according to a 30 Jan 1970 DV brief. As noted in the 2 Jan 1970 NYT, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was named one of the top ten movies of 1969 by the National Board of Review, which also honored Pamela Franklin with a Best Supporting Actress accolade.
       On 22 Jul 1970, a Var news item credited Maggie Smith’s Academy Award win with boosting the domestic box-office gross to over $2.5 million. Internationally, the film was said to be doing twenty-five percent better than expected, and additional bookings had been added. After “the initial wave of single dates” following its spring 1969 release, the picture had been shown in the U.S. on a double bill with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969, see entry).
       The film was released with an “M” rating (for mature audiences) from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Jul 1967
p. 3.
Daily Variety
15 Mar 1968
p. 38.
Daily Variety
26 Apr 1968
p. 12.
Daily Variety
27 Jun 1968
p. 8.
Daily Variety
13 Feb 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1969
p. 11.
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1970
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
26 Dec 1966
Section D, p. 27.
Los Angeles Times
5 Feb 1968
Section C, p. 27.
Los Angeles Times
10 Jun 1968
Section F, p. 31.
Los Angeles Times
27 Jul 1968
p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
24 Dec 1968
p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
2 Mar 1969
Section S, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
4 Mar 1969
Section H, p. 1, 11.
New York Times
13 Dec 1966
p. 57.
New York Times
18 Dec 1966
p. 15.
New York Times
11 Aug 1967
p. 19.
New York Times
21 Jul 1968
Section D, p. 17.
New York Times
2 Mar 1969
Section D, p. 16.
New York Times
3 Mar 1969
p. 30.
New York Times
2 Jan 1970
p. 34.
Variety
27 Apr 1966.
---
Variety
22 May 1968
p. 16.
Variety
23 Jul 1969
p. 9.
Variety
22 Jul 1970
p. 28.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Color cost des
Color cost des
Ward supv
MUSIC
Orig mus comp
Arr & cond
MAKEUP
Chief makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Loc adv
Casting
Dial coach
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (London, 1961) by Muriel Spark and the play of the same name by Jay Presson Allen (Torquay, England, 5 Apr 1966).
SONGS
"Jean," music and lyrics by Rod McKuen.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
2 March 1969
Premiere Information:
London premiere: 24 February 1969
New York opening: 2 March 1969
Los Angeles opening: 5 March 1969
Production Date:
began 29 April 1968
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Productions
Copyright Date:
31 December 1968
Copyright Number:
LP36762
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
De Luxe
Duration(in mins):
116
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
21992
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1932, Miss Jean Brodie, a middle-aged spinster, teaches at Edinburgh's exclusive Marcia Blaine School. A romantic devoted to art and music, as well as a fascist sympathizer, Miss Brodie belittles those who do not share her enthusiasms. From her students she recruits a coterie, including the attractive Jenny; the impressionable Mary McGregor, a wealthy orphan; and the subtle Sandy, who proves to be her nemesis. Courted by Lowther, a retiring music instructor at whose ancestral home she spends the weekends, Miss Brodie carries on an affair with Lloyd, an earthy art teacher and the father of a large Catholic family. Miss Brodie's antagonist is the humorless headmistress, Miss MacKay, who repeatedly attempts to dismiss her. Jealous of Miss Brodie's eulogies to Jenny's beauty and stung by the teacher's indifferent prediction that she will make a superior secret service agent, Sandy takes Lloyd as her lover. When she discovers that his portrait of her resembles Miss Brodie, she breaks with the artist, assuring him that he is an aging mediocrity. Learning that Mary's brother has run off to Spain, Miss Brodie assumes that he has joined Franco's forces and encourages her to join him. En route to Spain, her train is bombed and Mary is killed. At a school convocation Lloyd informs Miss Brodie of Lowther's impending marriage to the chemistry teacher, Miss Lockhart. Shortly thereafter, Miss Brodie is dismissed for propagandizing in the classroom. Stunned, she asks Sandy who has betrayed her. Sandy spitefully proclaims her liaison with Lloyd and reveals her treachery, citing as justification the absurdity of Mary's ... +


In 1932, Miss Jean Brodie, a middle-aged spinster, teaches at Edinburgh's exclusive Marcia Blaine School. A romantic devoted to art and music, as well as a fascist sympathizer, Miss Brodie belittles those who do not share her enthusiasms. From her students she recruits a coterie, including the attractive Jenny; the impressionable Mary McGregor, a wealthy orphan; and the subtle Sandy, who proves to be her nemesis. Courted by Lowther, a retiring music instructor at whose ancestral home she spends the weekends, Miss Brodie carries on an affair with Lloyd, an earthy art teacher and the father of a large Catholic family. Miss Brodie's antagonist is the humorless headmistress, Miss MacKay, who repeatedly attempts to dismiss her. Jealous of Miss Brodie's eulogies to Jenny's beauty and stung by the teacher's indifferent prediction that she will make a superior secret service agent, Sandy takes Lloyd as her lover. When she discovers that his portrait of her resembles Miss Brodie, she breaks with the artist, assuring him that he is an aging mediocrity. Learning that Mary's brother has run off to Spain, Miss Brodie assumes that he has joined Franco's forces and encourages her to join him. En route to Spain, her train is bombed and Mary is killed. At a school convocation Lloyd informs Miss Brodie of Lowther's impending marriage to the chemistry teacher, Miss Lockhart. Shortly thereafter, Miss Brodie is dismissed for propagandizing in the classroom. Stunned, she asks Sandy who has betrayed her. Sandy spitefully proclaims her liaison with Lloyd and reveals her treachery, citing as justification the absurdity of Mary's death. +

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

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