Plot: What’s it about?
Imagine if you’re a soldier in the heated times of war and you become injured while in the field. When you’re discovered and taken away from the horrors of the battlefield, you awake to find you’re in the hands of the other side. This is what happens to Corporal John McBurney (Clint Eastwood), a Yankee soldier fighting for his side in the Civil War, only he finds himself in an even stranger situation. You see when McBurney was found by a young teenage girl, she takes him back to her school where the all female staff and students seem to be scared of this newcomer. As he recovers he wonders if these women can be trusted, because if they were to turn him in he could find himself in grave danger. But he has no choice at the time so he decides to wait things out while trying to regain his strength. As he does so, he begins to feel the pangs of lust and soon finds himself in a game of cat and mouse with some of the women at the school. But soon he learns that this was a mistake, as the jealousy has grown between the women and it seems like the trouble for McBurney is just starting…
This title is released by Universal, but thanks to a special agreement it has been issued in a special case as part of Warner’s Clint Eastwood Collection. But you can purchase this title alone and the content is exactly the same, so no worries on either count. I wish Warner had done more with this title once they secured it, like added some bonus features but no such luck. But while the disc lacks supplements to be sure, the movie is worth the price of a rental without a doubt. When you think of Clint Eastwood movies you might think of westerns or shoot em ups, but this is a slow paced almost thriller. I said almost, because its not a typical thriller by any means, but it does have some well laid suspense. This movie is more than a drama, but not quite a full blown thriller so it lands somewhere in the middle I suppose. I don’t think the suspense works all the time, but it is effective enough to warrant a watch or two. I don’t think this has much repeat viewing value, but as a I said it is worth a look. I recommend this movie to those Eastwood fans, Civil War lovers, and anyone who wants a decent suspense movie to check out.
This film was directed by Donald Siegel, who also directed Clint Eastwood in several other solid pictures. This movie has a wonderful visual style, as the costumes and location seem perfect and sometimes dazzle the eyes. But as dazzling as the production design is, the camera work of Siegel is even better and conjures up a terrific atmosphere for this film. The unique camera angles place us into the movie in strange ways and make us look at things from a different perspective, which is very good in this case. I also like how Siegel uses flashbacks and fantasies in this movie and how those help us to explore characters and their motivations. Not your average Siegel/Eastwood movie to be sure, but well worth a look. If you want to see more of Siegel’s movies I recommend Escape From Alcatraz, Dirty Harry, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, and Two Mules For Sister Sara. While it is kind of strange seeing Eastwood (In The Line Of Fire, Unforgiven) in the role of not the hero, he comes across well at all times. He’s still the tough guy we all know and love, but here he gives that persona a new spin. I suggest all fans of Eastwood check this out just for his performance alone. The supporting cast also includes Jo Ann Harris (American Hot Wax), Darleen Carr (Piranha, Death Of A Gunfighter), Elizabeth Hartman (The Fixer, Full Moon High), and Geraldine Page (Interiors, The Happiest Millionaire).
Video: How does it look?
The Beguiled is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. While this transfer shows some problems in terms of the source print, it still manages to deliver a solid visual presentation in the end. The colors are intentionally muted somewhat, so don’t flip out when the reds aren’t as red as you think they should be. The flesh tones seem natural also and never display any distortion, which is always good. I found no issues with the contrast either, as shadows looked complex and I never noticed any detail loss. Aside from a somewhat dated source print, this is a terrific transfer.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release uses the original mono track and while it has the usual mono limitations, it manages to get the job done. I’d love a nice surround track as much as the next guy I assure you, but since this movie doesn’t call for much speaker presence, I won’t complain too much on the issue. The music sounds adequate and what little atmospheric effects emerge come through with no problems at all. The dialogue is clear at all times and I never had to adjust the volume.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains production notes, talent files, and the theatrical trailer.