28 February 2010 | ruby_fff
Such delight to be able to view "The Chalk Garden" again on DVD, finally released by Universal Vault Series.
Hayley Mills has always been one of my favorite teen actors since "The Parent Trap" circa 1961 with a fantastic Disney ensemble cast of Brian Keith and Maureen O'Hara as Susan & Sharon's parents, with unforgettable Una Merkel as Verbena, Joanna Barnes unmistakably as Vicky, and Leo G Carroll as the wistful Reverend Dr Mosby. "The Chalk Garden" 1964 is the rare occasion where Hayley got to truly deliver an in-depth performance involving complex emotions and character development. Playing opposite Deborah Kerr, Dame Edith Evans, and her father John Mills must had been a thrill for her.
It seems they don't make simple straightforward drama delivered as stylish as the Ross Hunter Productions did. 'Straightforward' in the sense of no gimmick, no special effects - just simply excellent performances all round - a handful of characters weaving a meaningful, intriguing story. A believable set design and complementing art direction, skillful cinematography and right dose of music score applied. Directed by Ronald Naeme (who gave us "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" 1969 and blockbuster disaster hit "The Poseidon Adventure" circa 1972), you can say it's a perfect film experience, in spite of the 'damaged' teenager fighting for love and self-esteem subject. It was wonderful to see this film all over again, twice, thrice - well, there's no chapters option, the DVD simply plays and loops itself. (Hence the 'Vault Series' with no fanfare.) Guarantee deeper appreciation of this production and the performances with repeat viewing.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who very much misses the other gem of a movie with Hayley Mills acting with her father John Mills again in the 1965 "The Truth About Spring" (directed by Richard Thorpe), a fun romp and buoyantly merry (sea adventure) with James MacArthur as Spring's (Hayley's character) opposite attraction. Sure hope a DVD revival version will soon sprout up! It IS a Universal Pictures - both production and distribution!
Note: Notice Ronald Naeme was born in 1911. He'd be 100 next year in 2011. What an illustrious cinematic life in film-making achievements, and having been with the masters, Alfred Hitchcock and David Lean.