The Miracle Worker (1962)
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Movie InfoBased on William Gibson's Broadway play and retaining its acclaimed cast, Arthur Penn's The Miracle Worker tells the true story of Helen Keller (Patty Duke), an Alabama girl struck blind and deaf as a baby after an elevated fever. Enter Annie Sullivan (Anne Bancroft), a partially-blind woman assigned the task of teaching Helen sign language. After first separating Helen from her over-protective parents (Victor Jory and Inga Swenson), Annie begins the arduous process of teaching the girl. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for The Miracle Worker
The centerpiece is a one-room, nine-minute war of attrition, as a tutor (Anne Bancroft) imposes table manners on her feral charge (Patty Duke). It's a heaving, shin-cracking donnybrook, done with complete commitment.
Where the picture really excels, outside of its inherent story values, is in the realm of photographic technique.
It's a stunningly impressive piece of work, typically (for Penn) deriving much of its power from the performances.
Anne Bancroft is superb as Annie Sullivan, the teacher who finally reached into Helen Keller's darkness, and Patty Duke is chillingly real as the young Helen.
Two well-deserved Oscars grace this unflinching portrait of selfishness in direct resistance to selflessness.
Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke give intense, powerful Oscar-winning performances in Arthur Penn's successful screen version of the Helen Keller story, based on William Gibson's play.
Beautiful black-and-white cinematography, startling performances, and harrowing physicality… the cathartic final scene is nothing short of transcendent.
Notable not just for its earnestness and two outstanding performances (both won Oscars) -- it's also got one of the longest catfights in cinema history.
Portrays a literal war for a girl's soul, making that war so ugly that it's impossibly beautiful.
Potentially soft material is handled with just the right severity; marvelously acted.
The eight-minute sequence featuring a physical fight between Bancroft and Duke as the teacher attempts to teach the pupil some manners stands as one of the most electrifying and honest ever committed to film.
Much aided by its magnificent central performances, Penn's adaptation works like a dream as a film...Despite the subject matter, Penn manages to resist the temptation to manipulate our emotions.
Audience Reviews for The Miracle Worker
Intense from the get-go, in both style and acting; still cinematographically modern in a lot of ways and dominated by a fiery performance by Anne Bancroft. It struck me as unusual for a film of its era to start SO in media res, with the stakes already so high and the parents already so distraught, but it's for the better. Stark and powerful, even if it slows into a somewhat repetitive groove after a while. Definitely see it once, it's a classic, winner of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress Oscars... given that it's largely a two-hander of a script, it kind of makes you wonder how it wasn't nominated for Best Picture, too, but 1962 was a deep year... Lawrence of Arabia (winner), To Kill a Mockingbird, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Music Man and The Longest Day got that nomination, which means that other great films like The Manchurian Candidate, Days of Wine and Roses, Long Day's Journey Into Night and Birdman of Alcatraz also didn't get the nod. There's one argument in favour of the return to (up to) 10 nominees for the big prize! I digress, though; The Miracle Worker is a fine film and may well have cast the die for future "inspirational caregiver, teacher, etc." films.More
How many films have fight scenes? You'd lose count trying to figure it out. But how many feature an all out back and forth between teacher and her student? Bancroft and Patty Duke in one of the most thrilling fight scenes ever filmed ... and a child gets rescued at the end of this heartwarming piece. An astounding work. Recently seen again, and even better than remembered, justifying my life long unrequited love affair with Patty Duke, who looks to be playing herself throughout.More
Few get to men and women's hearts than this movie. When it does, it goes deep and buries itself so that when years later after seeing it, it's still pretty much there to incite again the momentous experience. Power is the word that describes, from the characters that everyone with a heart will care about, and the retelling of the one of the most brilliant stories ever told, not mere fantastical tale, but something that really actually happened.More
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