Loss of Innocence (1961)

Loss of Innocence (1961)

“He’s interested in that young girl, and there’s nothing you can do about it!”

When their mother (Joy Shelton) suddenly falls ill while vacationing in France, a teenager (Susannah York) and her three younger siblings — Hester (Jane Asher), Wilmouse (Richard Williams), and Vicky (Elizabeth Dear) — stay in a hotel run by brusque Mademoiselle Zisi (Danielle Darrieux), whose lover (Kenneth More) quickly develops an attraction towards pubescent York.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Coming of Age
  • Danielle Darrieux Films
  • Love Triangle
  • May-December Romance
  • Susannah York Films

Susannah York’s breakthrough cinematic leading role was in this adaptation — directed by Lewis Gilbert — of a 1958 novel by Rumer Godden called The Greengage Summer. Unfortunately, it comes across as melodramatic and not quite believable, thanks in part to the miscasting of Kenneth More as an avuncular presence who not only falls for an underage girl within his care, but for some reason has a shockingly shady past. While it’s easy to see why he would be attracted to beautiful York (actually 21 at the time of filming):

… the drama that plays out between all the various parties — including not just the triangle of York, More, and Darrieux, but Darrieux’s [coded] lesbian lover (Claude Nollier):

… as well as a resentful young teenager (David Saire) working at the hotel:

… comes across as too many subplots vying for space; and this doesn’t even account for the sudden appearance of a police inspector (Raymond Gérôme) who More is keenly interested in hiding from.

Poor Darrieux is relegated to playing a jealous middle-aged woman who deeply resents the children for intruding on her affair with More; many of her lines are quite laughable, as when she says to York: “I had not understood that any of you were so… so big!”

You can skip this one unless you’re curious.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Susannah York as Joss Grey

Must See?
No; this one isn’t must-see.


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