1 September 2009 | blanche-2
Another excellent film by Jack Clayton
Seven children continue in "Our Mother's House" after she dies in this 1967 film starring Dirk Bogarde, Pamela Franklin, and Mark Lester, and directed by Jack Clayton. A very ill, religious woman, the mother of seven, dies suddenly at home. Her children, afraid of being separated, bury her in the garden and continue to live as if nothing had happened, forging her monthly annuity check. One day, their long-absent father (Bogarde) reappears.
Based on a novel by Julian Gloag, Haya Harareet (Heston's Ben Hur co-star) and Jeremy Brooks fashioned an excellent screenplay, beautifully directed by Jack Clayton, a true master (The Innocents, The Pumpkin Eater). With a dark, spooky atmosphere inside a big old house, he creates the world in which the children live, one where they care for one another, pray, and communicate nightly with their mother. When Charlie Hook, their father arrives, that all changes, and the world comes rushing in. At first, Charlie is what is needed - his presence means they're safe from the outside world, but gradually, even his supporters among the children begin to see that he's a danger.
Clayton manages to bring in an incestuous undertone without overtly showing any incest - in the days when directors needed to adhere to certain codes, they called upon their imaginations. It made film more subtle and definitely more interesting to watch.
The acting is superb. Bogarde is in top form as the at first lovable Charlie, who, as he does in "The Servant," gradually becomes more sinister. Pamela Franklin is marvelous as Diana, one of the older children; all of the children are excellent - Clayton was no stranger to directing children, and his deft hand is shown here.
Perhaps not a well-known film in the U.S., "Our Mother's House" will make a lasting impression.