The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Jean Brodie (Maggie Smith) is a teacher of art and music at a posh private school for girls. She inspires her students to learn but also has an obsessive admiration for people like Franco and Mussolini. Her political ideas often clash with the head of the school Miss MacKay (Celia Johnson). The middle aged spinster Brodie has eyes for fellow teacher Gordon Lowther (Gordon Jackson), but his Catholic marriage prevents him from committing to her. She also has lesbian leanings for her impressionable … More

Rating: PG
Genre: Drama, Romance, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Muriel Spark, Jay Presson Allen
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 6, 2004
20th Century Fox Film Corporation

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as Jean Brodie

as Teddy Lloyd

as Miss MacKay

as Gordon Lowther

as Mary McGregor

as Emily Carstairs

as Miss Campbell

as Miss McKenzie

as Miss Lockhart

as Miss Gaunt

as Miss Alison Kerr

as Miss Kerr

as Mr. Burrage

as Schoolgirl

as Schoolgirl

as Schoolgirl

as Schoolgirl

as Schoolgirl

as Schoolgirl

as Schoolgirl
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (3)

Maggie Smith's tour-de-force performance as a school-teacher slipping into spinsterhood is one of several notable achievements in this sentimental and macabre personal tragedy.

Full Review… | June 12, 2008
Top Critic

Maggie Smith is handed a part in the eccentric, trite, purposeful and finally pathetic Jean Brodie which allows her to play to all her considerable strengths.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Maggie Smith in one of those technically stunning, emotionally distant performances that the British are so damn good at.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

As is so often the case, you can't help thinking that Oscar voters are easily impressed. Watching the film today, Maggie Smith's flamboyant acting looks awfully hammy,

Full Review… | March 10, 2011
Movie Talk

Maggie Smith deservedly won the 1969 Best Actress Oscar for playing a charismatic, authoritarian teacher in a Scottish girls school in the early 1930s.

Full Review… | January 1, 2011

...stripped of [star Maggie Smith's] presence, there's no doubt that the film would be a complete bore.

Full Review… | July 21, 2004
Reel Film Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

I hope Maggie Smith isn't crestfallen to have me say "wow, I didn't realize she WAS so beautiful," but she was definitely a beauty in this movie. Not that she isn't now, but there are no qualifiers on the younger her. Her acting and sheer presence carried the movie which was rather ruderless--although I guess we were waiting to see when she would get the az and I loved hearing everyone's Scottish brogues....mai leetle gels. Indeed!

Bathsheba Monk
Bathsheba Monk

Super Reviewer

A tyrannical but occasionally charming teacher indoctrinates her students at a boarding school.
This is a profoundly interesting film. The educator initially appears to be of the "nurturing love" variety, but as we get to know Jean Brodie, we realize that her support of Mussolini and Franco isn't just the absent mutterings of a naive teacher but the cornerstone of her pedagogy. As my colleague explained, after we watch films like Dead Poets Society we think, "If only those stuffy administrators would leave geniuses alone to genius-ify their students ..." But after we watch films like The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, we think, "For God's sake, don't leave teachers alone with students." Maggie Smith's almost irresistible charm makes our introduction to Brodie smooth, but her phenomenal characterization make Brodie more interesting, more tragic, and more frightening as we get to know her. If ever there was a performance that deserved an Oscar, this is it. The supporting performance by Pamela Franklin as Brodie's one disloyal charge is also excellent, but the supporting work by the male actors leaves something to be desired as they are often stale cliches.
Overall, this is a must-see in the genre of educator films, and Maggie Smith makes it quite an enjoyable time.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


It's been many years since I've seen this movie starring Dame Maggie Smith, who won an Oscar for Best Actress in the titular role. I'm reminded once again of how powerful an acting force she is, how amazingly all encompassing and robust she is in delivery, in expression, in gesture. A consummate acting professional is every sense. If you only know Smith from her more recent supporting work in the Harry Potter series, you must seek out some of her earlier work to understand just how stunning a screen presence she is. Here, as the aging, unwed teacher, shaping her students according to her passionately insular mindset, Smith is staggering in her determined, although blinded, pursuit of "true" education. When her high-minded yet sadly naive and idiosyncratic curricular bent leads to a student's unfortunate death, she must face the truth of her shortcomings in a world far more dangerous than she could ever bring herself to realize. Offbeat and perhaps harmful though her life lessons may be, you cannot help but admire Miss Brodie's iron-willed dedication to teaching them, her absolute conviction of the necessity of peculiarly shaping young, susceptible minds, hearts, and spirits. Maggie Smith is a living treasure who must be cherished for every appearance she makes on screen.

Lanning : )

Super Reviewer

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