May 28th: Southern Hospitality

beguiled

119. The Beguiled (Don Siegel, 1971)

Don Siegel directed five films starring Clint Eastwood and this is perhaps their least known collaboration and apparently Siegel’s favourite of his own films. Eastwood is Union soldier Cpl John McBurney. He is taken in to a Confederate girls’ school when he is found wounded. During his stay the repressed feelings of the students and teachers are exploited by McBurney and a web of lies and deceit grows. This is an oddly creepy thriller with gothic overtones and is held together by Eastwood’s distasteful soldier, a man who repeatedly lies until there is no way of trusting anything that he says. It seems an odd role for Clint, he is completely hateful from start to finish manipulating everyone he meets. It’s all shot in Siegel’s trademark rough’n’ready style and infused with sense of physical and moral decay. An intriguing and intelligent film and one that shows the man Clint in a very different light, as a tortoise owner myself I turned against him when he mistreated the turtle.

Note: The Beguiled is listed in the Neon book 1000 Essential Movies on Video under Clint Eastwood Movies.