Friday 31 July 2015

The Nanny

As you might expect from a film that is about the death of a child and the devastating impact it has on a family, 'The Nanny' is a rather somber affair, by far the most restrained of the psychological thrillers that Hammer used to supplement their various horror franchises. There are very few twists and turns, just a slow piecing together of the true circumstances of what may or may not have been a tragic accident.

Bette Davis stars here as Nanny, ably supported by extraordinary eyebrows. The only child in the house hates and fears her, but that's irrelevant as her real duties are to stop the Mother of the family unraveling completely, which she does by treating her like a  baby, obsessively brushing her hair and feeding her steak and kidney pie from a spoon (yes, Social Services, I am aware that does not necessarily constitute responsible child care). Davis' performance is mannered and slightly grotesque, without ever being ridiculous. As things begin to unravel, Ms Davis resists the chance to go full psycho-biddy, as if her character is already at the extent of her strangeness. 

The lovely Pamela Franklin pops up as a lonely teenage neighbour who pretends to have loads of boyfriends but mainly sits in smoking and watching westerns on the telly, and is by far the most sympathetic character in a film filled with emotionally damaged and psychologically distant people. 

It's all a bit depressing, really, but it's well made and directed and doesn't rely on cheap shocks to tell its ultimately rather sad story. I fancy some steak and kidney pie now. I'll have a bath later. 

1 comment:

  1. Another fine choice Paul. I do have a copy of The Nanny on a Hammer Box Set (also includes Devil Rides Out, Quatermass and the pit, Drac Prince of Darkness) Your description of Bette Davis performance is spot on. It could have been over the top, but was at times very restrained. Thanks Paul.