The Children Are Watching: Ruminations on Jack Clayton

Harold Pinter, Anne Banecroft & Jack Clayton on the set of THE PUMPKIN EATER (1964)

I really enjoyed TCM’s British New Wave Mondays in March and I made time to revisit some of my favorite films included in the series such as Jack Clayton’s THE PUMPKIN EATER. I hadn’t seen the film in years but I found it even more powerful and chilling than I had remembered it. I couldn’t resist writing about the film so this week I shared some thoughts about THE PUMPKIN EATER and director Jack Clayton at The Movie Morlocks. Here’s an outtake from my blog post:

“One of the most frightening aspects of Clayton’s work is the ways in which he makes monsters out of children. Adults in Clayton’s film procreate beyond reason and without responsibility. They give birth to babies they can’t financially or emotionally care for in some vain attempt to fend off their own mortality or fill some bottomless void. While it’s easy to see the children in Clayton’s films as victims of circumstance, it’s impossible to ignore the cruelty they often display towards adults and one another. Clayton began his career as a child actor and he often talked about how much he enjoyed working with kids. He was able to get some incredibly nuanced performances from the young actors in his care. But it’s wrong to assume that his films simply depict children who are corrupted by the adult world when their roles are much more complex and far reaching than that. In THE INNOCENTS and OUR MOTHER’S HOUSE, children aren’t just pliable blameless creatures. They’re menacing, malicious and bloodthirsty. They often display a viciousness that’s more organic than conditioned. Even in films like ROOM AT THE TOP (1959), THE GREAT GATSBY (1974) and THE LONELY PASSION OF JUDITH HEARNE (1987) children act as barriers (or bad mistakes), blocking the adult’s road to happiness while depriving them of true love and financial security.”

Follow the link to read the whole piece:

“The Children Are Watching” @ TCM’s Movie Morlocks blog>

I also created a Fickr gallery with images from the film that you can find here.