However, none of these what might be termed Yankee Guignol films are as remarkable as The Beguiled. Ever since Tennessee Williams created Blanche DuBois, the image of the Southern Belle has been one that has breathed with barely repressed libido. The Beguiled hits that suppressed longing on the head and makes it squirm with something approaching Freudian brilliance. The film is an amazing play of sexual tensions and manipulations at one point, the women even come to regard their own side as the enemy. Clint Eastwood has never been more animated, playing with a handsome courtly charm beneath which he twists and manipulates the truth like a greased fish. And when it enters the realm of horror, the film becomes something unforgettable the scene where Geraldine Page, armed with only a medical book as guide and brandy as anaesthetic, removes Clint Eastwoods leg with a hacksaw, is truly grisly all the more shocking for the calm manneredness with which everybody involved plays.
The cast is extremely strong. One of the best performances comes from Elizabeth Hartman whose weak and watery innocent face is a perfect casting choice on director Donald Siegels part her seduction and downfall is spelled from the moment she is introduced. Equally good is Mae Mercer as the Black maid who gives a highly believable performance of considerable hard-bitten distrust.
Director Donald Siegel was known for his crime thrillers during the 1950s and of course the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). Siegel previously put Clint Eastwood through his pace in his seminal role as Dirty Harry (1971).
In 2016, a remake was announced by Sofia Coppola.