The Chalk Garden

1964

Drama / Mystery

6
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 71%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 76%
IMDb Rating 7.4 10 1888

Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
May 14, 2021 at 01:47 PM

Director

Cast

Hayley Mills as Laurel
Deborah Kerr as Miss Madrigal
Edith Evans as Mrs. St. Maugham
John Mills as Maitland
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU 720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
976.87 MB
1280*694
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 46 min
P/S 0 / 14
1.77 GB
1920*1040
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 46 min
P/S 1 / 9
976.82 MB
1280*700
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 46 min
P/S 2 / 5
1.77 GB
1904*1040
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 46 min
P/S 0 / 3

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by JamesHitchcock 7 / 10

The Green and the White

Hayley Mills is perhaps today best known, at least in America, as the teenage heroine of the series of family-oriented comedies which she made for Disney in the 1960s. She did, however, also make a number of films in Britain, often on serious themes, and "The Chalk Garden" is one of these. (Other examples include "Tiger Bay" and "Whistle Down the Wind").

The story is set in an old manor house in Sussex. (The house used is a real one, in the village of East Dean on the South Downs near Eastbourne). A mysterious woman calling herself Miss Madrigal arrives at the house to be interviewed for the position of governess to Laurel, the teenage granddaughter of the owner, Mrs. St Maugham. Although Miss Madrigal has no references and no previous experience as a governess, she gets the position, largely because Laurel is such a badly-behaved child that none of the other candidates can bear the thought of looking after her.

This is, however, no comedy about an amusingly naughty girl. It soon becomes clear that Laurel's behaviour is far more than childish mischief or teenage rebellion, and that she is in fact a deeply unhappy and disturbed young woman. She seems to be preoccupied with crime, especially murder and arson, and the roots of her unhappiness appear to lie in her upbringing. Her father is dead and her mother abandoned her when she married for a second time, leaving the girl to be brought up by her imperious and eccentric grandmother, who has neglected her. Laurel's mother Olivia, however, has now reappeared and is intent on reclaiming custody of her daughter, a prospect Mrs. St Maugham views with abhorrence as she regards Olivia as an unfit mother.

The title "The Chalk Garden" refers on a literal level to the alkaline chalky soil in Mrs. St Maugham's garden, an unsuitable medium for growing the sort of flowers which the old lady is trying to plant, especially rhododendrons which need acid soil. (In other parts of Sussex they grow like weeds). Metaphorically, it is used to suggest that Laurel, symbolically named after a plant, has also been raised in the wrong type of environment.

The film was directed by Ronald Neame who was also responsible for "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie". In both films he makes symbolic use of colour. Here the predominant colours are green (representing the "garden" element of the title) and white (representing "chalk"). The green of the vegetation predominates in the outdoor scenes, white in the indoor ones, and many scenes feature a prominent white object- a nightdress, a glass of milk, the cliffs of Beachy Head or the Seven Sisters. Symbolically, green can be seen as symbolising youth and growth, white with innocence but also with aridity and sterility. Other colours are associated with particular characters who are often seen dressed in them- yellow with Laurel, blue with Miss Madrigal, purple (the colour of both royalty and mourning) with Mrs. St Maugham, who is both imperious and unhappy. The bright reds, pinks and oranges which played an important part in "Jean Brodie" are not much used.

As in "Jean Brodie", Neame elicits some fine performances from his stars, especially the women. (In both films the female roles are more prominent than the male ones). Apart from three silent movies in the 1910s, Edith Evans was an actress who came late to the cinema, not making her first "talkie" until she was in her sixties, but quickly carved out a niche playing haughty upper-class ladies, most famously Lady Bracknell in "The Importance of Being Earnest". Here, as Mrs St Maugham, she shows that she could play this sort of role in serious drama as well as comedy. Deborah Kerr, as Madrigal, is suitably mysterious and inscrutable in the early scenes, more passionate in the later ones after the secret of her past (I won't say what it is) has been revealed. There is also a good contribution from Hayley's father John as the butler Maitland (who may also hide a secret of his own). John Mills also acted with his daughter in three other films, including "Tiger Bay".

Hayley Mills is brilliant as the disturbed, unhappy Laurel, one of her best roles and a more challenging one even than Gillie in "Tiger Bay" or Cathy in "Whistle Down the Wind". Seeing this film made me all the more surprised that she did not go on to become a bigger star as an adult. This is one of a number of films in which Hayley plays a child or teenager growing up in something other than the traditional two-parent family- in "Whistle Down the Wind" she is being raised by her widowed father, in "Tiger Bay" and "Pollyanna" she is an orphan and in "The Parent Trap" she plays twin sisters whose parents are divorced.

I would not rate this film quite as highly as "Tiger Bay", "Whistle Down the Wind", or "Jean Brodie", three of the classics of the British cinema. The plot, based upon a play by Enid Bagnold, can seem a bit too neat and schematic when the secret of the mysterious Miss Madrigal's own past is finally revealed, and there is some rather trite moralising. Nevertheless, it is a well-acted and well-photographed piece of film-making, and I am surprised that it is not better known. 7/10

Reviewed by moonspinner55 9 / 10

Terrific Hayley Mills performance

In her A&E "Biography", it was revealed that child actress Hayley Mills apparently got her first mediocre notices from critics with this film, but I do not know why. Mills is engaging and colorful as a 16-year-old with a mind of her own: willful, stubborn, and bratty, she's wonderful on-screen. Deborah Kerr is also very fine, cool-headed and mysteriously reserved playing the new governess in an emotionally-unbalanced household run by haughty matriarch Edith Evans. Talky but entertaining, lively adaptation of Enid Bagnold's play (the title a metaphor for growing something in an improper environment). Exceptionally well-directed by Ronald Neame, who carefully allows the story to unfold like a marvelous novel--one you can get lost in. All the performers, including John Mills as the chief caretaker, are first-rate. Worth finding. ***1/2 from ****

Reviewed by theowinthrop 8 / 10

Good acting - reasonably good play turned film

Based on a play by Enid Bagnold, THE CHALK GARDEN is the story of the need to bring love - real love - to children. Deborah Kerr is Miss Madrigal, a newly hired nanny/companion at the home of Mrs. St. Maugham (Edith Evans), a wealthy and slightly eccentric old woman who has been at war with her daughter Olivia (Elizabeth Sellars) for some time. Olivia has a daughter Laurel (Hayley Mills) who has emotional problems, and whom Mrs. St. Maugham has legally taken away from Olivia. The old lady pretends that only she can give the love and care to the girl that her own daughter fails to give, but in reality she allows Laurel to have full freedom. As Laurel is an arsonist and liar this is not the best policy. The household is completed by the wryly humorous butler Maitland (John Mills). He sees the blundering by his employer, and he would like to tell a few things to Laurel, but he restrains himself because of his status as an employee.

Madrigal, of course, having just arrived is more willing to openly confront Laurel. She does so in an effort to understand her. Laurel appreciates having a new person to toy with, and opens up to an extent (revealing a love of old murder cases), but she is trying to find out the secret that Madrigal is holding back on - which she assumes can prove quite wounding if exposed, and she would love to expose it.

At points the secret comes near to the surface, but it keeps getting closed as quickly as it seems to appear. In the meantime Madrigal tries to get her employer see the need for Laurel to have her mother back into her life, and even gets Olivia into the house at one point. This does not sit well with Mrs. St. Maugham.

The explosion finally occurs when a friend of Mrs. St. Maugham, Justice McWhirry, comes for a visit encouraged by a malicious Laurel. What result is too much even for the young girl, who learns that some matters should remain secrets.

I saw this fine film at Radio City in 1964, but I imagine my parents took me and my sister there because Hayley Mills was given star treatment in the newspapers for this film. At that time, due to her string of movies with Walt Disney like POLLYANNA, the reference to Mills' name in any movie to an American audience suggested a "kid's flick". That she had started her career with TIGER BAY (also with her father John and Holst Bucholst) regarding a young girl helping a young man trying to avoid arrest for murder was relatively unknown - that film, like THE CHALK GARDEN, was made in England. Only Hayley's American films like THE PARENT TRAP (again with Disney) were for kids. The subject matter here, on what damage can be done to a young child by warring adults and lack of needed affection, was not ignored by Disney but was usually sugar coated somehow. Films like THE CHALK GARDEN did not sugar coat the subject matter, and so they did not do as well with American audiences as British ones.

If you see this one listed on Turner Classics grab it. Hayley gives a fine performance as a malevolent and sharp imp. Kerr holds her own as the woman who offers help but is heavily handicapped. Evans (after a great West End stage career) began really coming into films in the late 1940s, but in sharp character roles like in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST or TOM JONES or THE QUEEN OF SPADES. It was a later entrance than Peggy Ashcroft's or John Guilgud's, but it proved highly rewarding. John Mills is excellent as usual in his role of the wiser but (by social situation) quieter butler (who finally does get his moment to tell off Laurel). Sellars has a shorter role than one would like, but makes the most of it confronting Evans. And my old favorite Aylmer has a moment of recognition that few Judges like to ever experience.

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