The Miracle Worker
THE MIRACLE WORKER (PG)
D: Arthur Penn
United Artists/Playfilms (Fred Coe)
W: William Gibson [based on his play]
DP: Ernest Caparros
Ed: Aram Avaklan
Mus: Laurence Rosenthal
PD: George Jenkins & Mel Bourne
Cos: Ruth Morley
Anne Bancroft (Annie Sullivan), Patty Duke (Helen Keller), Victor Jory (Capt. Keller), Inga Swenson (Kate Keller), Andrew Prine (James Keller), Beah Richards (Viney)
A moving, incredibly well-acted, real life drama about the childhood of Helen Keller, left blind, deaf and dumb from an illness during infancy, and the efforts from her tutor Annie Sullivan to help her communicate again using a sign language method, which is met with incredulity by the young girl's family, particularly the overbearing, traditionalist father.
The performances of Anne Bancroft & Patty Duke carry this biographical film, which does occasionally veer into over-hysterical melodrama, when a more down to earth approach to the subject matter could have been just as effective, that being said, the scene towards the end when Helen finally realises that she is being taught the methods to communicate is very uplifting.
The two lead performances certainly struck a chord with audiences at the time of the film's release, winning Oscars for Best Lead Actress and Best Supporting Actress.
Personally, I felt there were better female acting performances in 1962, but it's perfectly understandable why Oscar decided to reward these two ladies, especially Patty Duke, who, at 16 years old, became the youngest recipient of a Supporting Actress Oscar (until eclipsed by Tatum O'Neal for Paper Moon in 1973)