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Deborah Kerr

 

BLACK NARCISSUS

The Archers, 1947.   Directed by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger.   Camera:  Jack Cardiff.    With Deborah Kerr, Flora Robson, Jean Simmons, David Farrar, Sabu, Esmond Knight, Kathleen Byron, Jenny Laird, Judith Furse, May Hallatt, Shaun Noble, Eddie Whaley, Jr., Nancy Roberts, Ley On.

British filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger once again deliberately courted controversy and censorship with their 1947 adaptation of Rumer Godden's novel.  Deborah Kerr and Kathleen Byron play the head nuns at an Anglican hospital/school high in the Himalayas.  The nuns' well-ordered existence is disturbed by the presence of a handsome British government agent (David Farrar), whose attractiveness gives certain sisters the wrong ideas.

Meanwhile, an Indian girl (Jean Simmons) is lured down the road to perdition by a sensuous general (Sabu).  While Kerr would seem most susceptible to fall from grace—we are given hints of her earlier love life in a long flashback—she proves to have more stamina than Byron, who delivers one of moviedom's classic interpretations of all-stops-out, sex-starved insanity.

The aforementioned flashback was removed from the US release version of Black Narcissus so as not to offend the Catholic Legion of Decency.  While the dramatic content of the film hasn't stood the test of time all that well, the individual performances, production values, and especially the Oscar-winning Technicolor photography of Jack Cardiff are still as impressive as ever.

Allmovie Guide