Starring Maggie Smith, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was a 1969 British Drama film, based on the novel by Muriel Spark and distributed by Twentieth Century-Fox Productions Limited. Although it only achieved moderate success, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was nominated for several awards and won several others.
Telling the story of a liberated young school teacher teaching her girls about the ways of life, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, follows a teacher at an Edinburgh Girl’s School. She chooses to ignore the mundane subjects on the curriculum and instead, teaches the girls about love, politics and art.
A successful Broadway production
The original Broadway production by Jay Presson Allen ran for 279 performances. It opened at the Helen Hayes Theater in New York on 16 January 1968. The lead role was offered to Maggie Smith but, due to film commitments, she declined. It was subsequently offered to Vanessa Redgrave.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Grim’s Dyke
Filmed in April 1968, the film was mainly filmed in Scotland. However there were two locations in England – Pinewood Studios at Ivor Heath in Buckinghamshire, where the film was made, and Grim’s Dyke House at Harrow Weald.
When the film was being made, Vanessa Redgrave was offered the role first. This time however, she declined it due to prior commitments. It is said that she phoned the director, Ronald Nearme, refusing to take that ‘proto-Fascist part’. Maggie Smith then took the role that was always meant to be hers.
An Oscar, several wins and even more nominations
The film was released on 24th February 1969 with a Royal Film Performance in London, and on 2nd March 1969 in New York. It was then shown at the Cannes Film Festival on 20th May 1969.
Maggie Smith won an Oscar for ‘Best Actress in a Leading Role’, along with a BAFTA for ‘Best Actress’. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe (Best Actress), a Golden Laurel (Female Dramatic Performance, a NSFC Award (Best Actress), and a NYFCC Award (Best Actress).
The Song ‘Jean’ was nominated for an Oscar, but won a Golden Globe (Best Original Song), whilst Celia Johnson won a BAFTA for ‘Best Supporting Actress’. Pamela Franklin was nominated for a BAFTA (Best Supporting Actress), but went on to win an NBR Award for ‘Best Supporting Actress’.
The film was also achieved Nominee status for various awards
- Golden Globes (Best Original Song and Best Motion Picture – Drama).
- Academy Awards (Best Music, Original Song)
- NBR Award (Top Ten film),
- Writers Guild of America, WGA Award (Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium) whilst Ronald Neame received Nominee status at the Cannes Film Festival for the Palme d’Or Award.