Beguiled, The (1971)

Beguiled, The (1971)

“I’ve got the strangest feeling that I’m some kind of prisoner in a girls’ school.”

When a wounded Yankee colonel (Clint Eastwood) seeks refuge in a southern girls’ school run by middle-aged Miss Martha (Geraldine Page), he quickly finds himself presented with multiple opportunities for flirtations — including with sexually forward Carol (Jo Ann Harris) and demure Edwina (Elizabeth Hartman).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Civil War
  • Clint Eastwood Films
  • Don Siegel Films
  • Elizabeth Hartman Films
  • Geraldine Page Films
  • Historical Drama
  • Love Triangle
  • Strong Females
  • Womanizers

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, “Don Siegel directed this gothic horror tale (in which females are the ‘monsters’) that surely is one of Clint Eastwood’s oddest films (and one of his rare money-losers).” When Eastwood’s “injured Yankee soldier” is suddenly “surrounded by females of all ages,” he “can’t understand them and underestimates them.”

Because he’s “afraid of being turned over to the rebel army,” this “least moral of Eastwood’s characters lies his way into the passionate hearts” of numerous women — but quickly “learns about the wrath of woman scorned.”

I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that this “Southern Gothic” cult classic more than delivers on its potential. The cast — from Eastwood and Page to all supporting players — is top-notch; Bruce Surtees’ cinematography is luminous; Lalo Schifrin’s score is appropriately haunting; and we’re kept on our toes from the first moments of Albert Maltz’s screenplay (based on a novel by Thomas P. Cullinan) until the very end. There are numerous twists and turns, unpredictable character arcs, and sequences of genuine horror which nonetheless play out as entirely realistic within this particular bounded universe (I won’t share any of them here because the fun is in the watching). Be forewarned that nobody here is really who they seem — and yet they are each, very much, exactly who they are.

Note: Apparently this was Don Siegel’s favorite of all his movies, which makes sense — though I suppose it also makes sense that viewers at the time expecting more of Eastwood’s typical action fare would be disappointed (it was a failure at the box office).

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Clint Eastwood as Corporal John McBurney
  • Geraldine Page as Miss Martha Farnsworth
  • Elizabeth Hartman as Edwina Dabney
  • Jo Ann Harris as Carol
  • Pamelyn Ferdin as Amy
  • Mae Mercer as Hallie
  • Fine location shooting
  • Bruce Surtees’ cinematography
  • Lalo Schifrin’s score

Must See?
Yes, as a strong cult classic by a noted director.


  • Cult Movie
  • Important Director


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