The Nanny | Hammer 1965 | Bette Davis, Wendy Craig

The Nanny | Hammer 1965 | Bette Davis, Wendy Craig

Anyone who saw Bette Davis in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane will recall the veteran actress’ skill in conveying buried but bubbling hysteria. Released three years later, The Nanny benefits from a similarly accomplished performance, and in the hands of director Seth Holt (also responsible for episodes of cult 1960s TV series ‘Danger Man’) it develops into a chilly psychodrama, calibrated for maximum tension.

The story centres round the matronly nanny (Davis) as she takes charge of the disturbed boy Joey Fane (Dix). Joey’s been in a mental hospital following the mysterious death of his sister, and his attitude towards his nanny is one of undisguised contempt. He won’t take her food. He won’t go to his room. In short, he’s an obnoxious little brat. But when he runs to his mother (Craig) claiming his nanny is trying to kill him, it’s assumed that finally he’s gone too far. As the balance of power between nanny and child becomes increasingly precarious, however, it begins to look as if he’s actually right.

It begins deceptively quietly and throughout the first half Holt cunningly takes the nanny’s side. As a woman burdened with at least two dreadful secrets, Davis gives a performance that’s shot through with desperately contained repression. Flashbacks and a last-minute confession reveal the true source of her condition, yet the back-story proves grimly credible. Craig, who went on to play a rather different sort of nanny on TV in the 1980s, is effective as Joey’s simpering mother, and Jill Bennett ably supports as the boy’s ill-fated aunt.

cast
Bette Davis as Nanny
Wendy Craig as Virginia ‘Virgie’ Fane
Jill Bennett as Aunt Pen
James Villiers as Bill Fane
William Dix as Joey Fane
Pamela Franklin as Bobbie Medman
Jack Watling as Dr. Medman
Maurice Denham as Dr. Beamaster
Alfred Burke as Dr. Wills
Harry Fowler as Milkman
Nora Gordon as Mrs. Griggs

crew
Production Design: Edward Carrick
Painter: Michael Finlay
Camera Operator: Kelvin Pike
Director Of Photography: Harry Waxman
Wardrobe Master: Mary Gibson
Costume Consultant: Rosemary Burrows
Makeup Artist: Tom Smith
Hairstylist: A.G. Scott
Continuity: Renée Glynne
Second Assistant Director: Ariel Levy
Assistant Director: Christopher Dryhurst
Director: Seth Holt
Supervising Editor: James Needs
Assistant Editor: Robert C. Dearberg
Editor: Tom Simpson
Production Secretary: Vicki Deason
Production Manager: George Fowler
Producer: Jimmy Sangster
Music Supervisor: Philip Martell
Recording Supervision: A.W. Lumkin
Sound Editor: Charles Crafford
Sound Recordist: Norman Coggs
Original Music Composer: Richard Rodney Bennett
Screenplay: Jimmy Sangster
Novel: Marryam Modell

UK | Hammer | 91 minutes | 1965

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