Maggie Smith is so witty and commanding in this film, you might forget that the script paints Jean Brodie as an ultimately self-deluding spinster. Dame Maggie won the first of her two Oscars for playing a teacher in 1930s Edinburgh more in thrall to her romantic notions of art and beauty than the real world, a cultivator of worshipping "Brodie Girls." (She exalts the Mona Lisa and Mussolini with equal fervor.) Smith's expert playing makes many of the brogue-heavy Brodie-isms worth memorizing ("She seeks to intimidate me by the use of quarter-hours.") and raises the picture above its generally theatrical style. Real-life husband Robert Stephens plays Jean's married lover, Celia Johnson excels as the hostile headmistress, and Pamela Franklin is the deadpan whistle-blower within Miss Brodie's coven. The dippy music of Rod McKuen helps mark the movie as more of a reflection of the '60s than the '30s. --Robert Horton
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