7 Things You Should Know About "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie"

graphic by Leslie Lozano

graphic by Leslie Lozano

This Friday, Jan. 27, we'll join the Bullock Museum for a screening of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), in partnership with their #femmefilmfridays series. After the screening, we'll participate in a group discussion with attendees about this particular movie and its role in the history of film. We hope you'll join us!

Learn a bit more about the film below:

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), based on the novel of the same name by award-winning author Muriel Spark, stars Maggie Smith as the whimsical teacher to a class of twelve-year-old girls. Miss Jean Brodie must navigate both her career as a teacher (constantly in tension with the strict headmistress) as well as her personal life. Maggie Smith’s rendition of Miss Jean Brodie has been described as “one of those technically stunning, emotionally distant performances that the British are so damn good at.”

Here are a few behind-the-scenes details about this movie that many miss:

1. Maggie Smith won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in this film, and to date, it’s one of her most iconic roles.

You might recognize Miss. Jean Brodie (Maggie Smith) as Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter film franchise, but her career has extended much further into the past. In 1990, Smith was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II for her services to the performing arts—she's truly an iconic performer.

2. Many of the young girls in the movie were played by much older women, and it was definitely a secret.

Most of the girls were actually just over eighteen. One woman was twenty years old—and a mother! The desks had to be raised to hide their true ages.

3. Other actresses considered for the Miss. Jean Brodie's role were Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews. Wendy Padbury was also asked to play a significant role but chose to do Doctor Who instead.

4. Don’t let this ruin the film for you, but it's rumored the film's director, Ronald Neame, never read the novel this film was based on.

5. Of the main cast, only Gordan Jackson, who plays Mr. Lowther (Miss. Jean Brodie's love interest), was actually Scottish. The rest employ fake accents.

6. Miss Jean Brodie's character was based in part on a teacher that author Muriel Spark had when she was young.

In her youth, Muriel Spark studied under Ms. Christina Kay for two years. Kay also encouraged Spark to become a writer. However, there were some oddities about her. For example, along with Renaissance posters, Ms. Kay also hung posters of Benito Mussolini and marching Italian fascists—something Miss. Jean Brodie shares.

7. In 2005, the novel was chosen by Time magazine as one of the hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to present.

The Bullock Museum, in partnership with #bossbabesATX's BABES FEST program, will screen The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on Jan. 27, 2017 from 6 to 9 PM at The Bullock Museum. You can get your $5 ticket here (all proceeds cover screening costs). See ya then!

Jane Claire Hervey