By Jackie Shannon

Though a bona fide Hollywood icon, Clint Eastwood’s resume is dotted with a few oddball delights that would likely have casual observers scratching their heads. From the brooding horrors of his 1973 western, High Plains Drifter, to the kinky perversity of the 1984 cop thriller, Tightrope, and the proto-Fatal Attraction scares of 1971’s Play Misty For Me, Eastwood has proven that he’s not averse to toying with his tough guy image and doing something different.

By far his most unusual movie, however, is 1971’s The Beguiled, which was directed by his friend and regular collaborator, Don Siegel (Dirty Harry, Coogan’s Bluff), and marked a rare financial failure for them both. The box office, however, usually lies, and the film stands today as a bizarre cult curio and minor masterpiece of slithering menace. Gloomy, dark, and unsettling, this eerie slab of southern Gothic is set during The Civil War, and sees Eastwood’s lost and injured Union soldier, John McBurney, taking shelter in an all-girl boarding school in Louisiana. A charming cad, McBurney soon has the school’s student body and teaching staff in a lather, cutting deep into the until-then tedious lives of curious, big hearted twelve-year-old Amy (a truly great performance by Pamelyn Ferdin); sweet, repressed schoolteacher, Edwina (played extraordinarily by the gifted but tragic Elizabeth Hartman); and domineering headmistress, Martha Farnsworth (a towering Geraldine Page).

Geraldine Page and Clint Eastwood in 1971's The Beguiled
Geraldine Page and Clint Eastwood in 1971’s The Beguiled

A fascinating treatise on gender politics, the film is now set for a perfectly timed remake courtesy of Sofia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides, Lost In Translation, The Bling Ring), who will adapt Thomas Cullinan’s source novel herself. The Oscar nominee has also assembled a brilliant, spot-on cast, with Colin Farrell in the Eastwood role, along with frequent Coppola star, Kirsten Dunst, as the angelic Edwina, and Nicole Kidman as the fearsome Martha. Young Australian actress, Angourie Rice (The Nice Guys, These Final Hours), meanwhile, has snagged the plum role of Amy, while Elle Fanning will play fellow student, Carol.

We’re tipping something truly special on this one…and a few Oscar nominations too.


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