The Nanny (1965)

As I’ve mentioned before, at length, I’ve never really wanted children. I’m a pretty selfish person at heart, and have never been keen on the idea of allowing something to stretch out my stomach any more than years of binge eating has, vacating my body like a house guest you never wanted to come and stay in the first place, then having the nerve to start draining you of money, sleep, and time for the rest of your natural existence while disappointing you every step of the way by reading Twilight and developing a crush on Justin Beiber.

Though I don’t really possess the maternal instinct, I’m sure that if I was so shackled, that I wouldn’t be all that enamoured with the idea of leaving a rugrat in the care of a complete stranger. Nannies, Mannies, Au Pairs … whatever you are calling them these days, it just seems weird to me that if you love your child and don’t want some stranger teaching their own ways and values to your most precious bundle of snot (which could be anything from creationism to hitting them with a metal bar when they break a plate), you shouldn’t really be trusting a couple of references and a resume to bestow you enough peace of mind to give a person who could have just walked out of a mental hospital the day before, the responsibility to raise junior while you aren’t around.

I must admit, that my knowledge of children could be written on the back of a postage stamp and I could have mixed it up with some of the rules of keeping a Mogwai, but if someone this child friendly thinks that something’s a bit iffy, it probably is.

Also you’re dealing with the fact that Mary Poppins is fictional, so your nanny experience will never turn out exactly as you’d hoped.

The Nanny is the story of a young boy named Joey, fresh home from an institution after drowning his little sister in the bath two years previously. His insistences that his Nanny is responsible are met with disbelief and growing suspicion when his own mother is poisoned. Could it be that the old lady with the crazy eyebrows is giving the family something a little less desirable than a spoonful of sugar?

Bette Davis is formidable and just the right amount of creepy as the sickly sweet Nanny, in this often overlooked classic from the Hammer studios. The ten year old Joey acted superbly by William Dix (no sniggering) is more than a match for the aging Davis and though the other cast are excellent in their roles, they are far outshone by this unlikely pairing. Bound by a mutual hatred and distrust, they are left to act out their battle of wills uninterrupted, due to neurotic, uncaring parents, too wrapped up in their own melodramas to deal with a precocious child and his apparently baseless accusations.

This is a first class chiller that’s a must for horror and Davis fans alike. Understated, brilliantly shot, with some decidedly nasty moments, The Nanny is a good, old fashioned creep fest meandering (albeit a little too slowly at times) towards a stunning conclusion. Proving once again, that you don’t have to be dripping in gore and holding the severed head of your victim to put the frighteners on your audience.

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