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The Beguiled
Film poster by Bob Peak
Directed by Don Siegel
Produced by Don Siegel
Written by Thomas Cullinan (novel)
Albert Maltz (screenplay)
Irene Kamp (screenplay)
Starring Clint Eastwood
Geraldine Page
Elizabeth Hartman
Jo Ann Harris
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Cinematography Bruce Surtees
Editing by Carl Pingitore
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) March 31, 1971 U.S. release
Running time 105 min.
Language English

The Beguiled (1971) is a drama film directed by Don Siegel, starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page. The script was written by Albert Maltz and is based on the 1966 Southern Gothic novel written by Thomas Cullinan, originally titled A Painted Devil.


Close to the end of the American Civil War, injured Yankee soldier John McBurney is rescued on the verge of death by a twelve year old girl from an all-girl boarding school in Louisiana. At first the all-female staff and pupils are scared, but as John starts to recover, he charms them one by one and the sexually repressed atmosphere becomes filled with jealousy and deceit. A few of the girls go after him as well.

After rejecting the headmistress for a younger girl, McBurney gets his comeuppance in the form of some painful Freudian symbolism — he falls down the stairs. Eventually his leg is amputated by the headmistress, so as to avoid gangrene. After going on a rampage that scares all of the women, he reforms and announces his intention to marry one of the teachers, but it is too late; he has alienated the youngest girl, the one who first found him, by killing her pet turtle after throwing it aside in a drunken rage. In response, she is coached to pick mushrooms that the headmistress and girls use to poison him.


  • Clint Eastwood as Corporal John 'McBee' McBurney
  • Geraldine Page as Martha Farnsworth
  • Elizabeth Hartman as Edwina Dabney
  • Jo Ann Harris as Carol
  • Darleen Carr as Doris
  • Mae Mercer as Hallie
  • Pamelyn Ferdin as Amelia 'Amy'
  • Melody Thomas Scott as Abigail
  • Peggy Drier as Lizzie


Screenwriter Albert Maltz had originally written a script with a happy ending, in which Eastwood's character and the girl live happily ever after. Both Eastwood and director Don Siegel felt that an ending more faithful to that of the book would be a stronger anti-war statement, however, and the ending was altered so that Eastwood's character would be killed.[1]

Made right before Dirty Harry, this was a bold early attempt by Eastwood to play against type. It was not a hit, likely due to uncertainty on Universal's part concerning how to market it, eventually leading them to advertise the film as a hothouse melodrama: “One a strange house!" "His love... or his life..."

Eastwood had recently signed a long-term contract with Universal but became angry with the studio because he felt that they botched its release. This eventually led to him leaving the studio in 1975 after the release of The Eiger Sanction, which he directed as well as starred in. He wouldn't work with Universal again until 2008's Changeling.

Two of the main stars of the film, Elizabeth Hartman and Geraldine Page, died in the same week. Hartman died on Wednesday, June 10, 1987 of suicide. Page died Saturday, June 13, 1987 of a heart attack.


  1. Ciment, Michel (May 1990). "Entretien avec Clint Eastwood". Positif (351): 5–11. 

External links[]

Template:Don Siegel Films

fr:Les Proies (film, 1971) it:La notte brava del soldato Jonathan ja:白い肌の異常な夜 pt:The Beguiled tr:Kadın Affetmez