Tuesday, April 19, 2016


This week on Hit me with your best shot, we looked at an early 1970s drama that's set for a remake - Don Siegel's "The Beguiled". This fascinating film is set in a Southern girls boarding school during the Civil War and explores themes of lust and gendered power as an injured Union soldier stumbles into the school. Clint Eastwood stars as the titular beguiler John McBurney, as he charms his way into the hearts of headmistress and student alike, causing inevitable tension in the household.

In truth, the film isn't nearly as "messy" as it sounds. That is, until the events surrounding my choice for best shot...

After manipulating several of the women for his own survival and personal amusement, John's indiscretions finally catch up with him. He shuns the headmistress for a younger girl and then gets caught with his pants down by another jealous teacher. In retaliation, she throws him down the stairs, inflicting a severe injury. And that leads to the horrific amputation (carried out by the rejected headmistress) depicted in the shot above. It's truly like a scene from a horror movie, reflecting how the balance of power has abruptly changed at this point. It's both deliriously twisted and ambiguous, as we're left to decide if the amputation was done out of genuine concern for his well-being or whether it's an act of spite. And things get even more sinister thereafter. "The Beguiled" certainly isn't perfect, but this final act - and Geraldine Page's performance in particular - is melodramatic gold.

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