Don Siegel got a bit fancy in his directing of the 1971 film, The Beguiled, and that the look is occasionally unpolished is not so bad. All the same, the film is built on a premise which I must regard as poor: during the Civil War, the female proprietor of a Southern boardingschool for girls (Geraldine Page) is disinclined to turn a badly wounded Union soldier (Clint Eastwood) over to Southern troops even after he is nursed back to health. Thus she is so foolish she fails to see what a dangerous situation she is creating, and yet this woman is not supposed to be dumb.
Even beyond the premise, though, there is feeble material. Not everything comes across convincingly (e.g., the Page character’s belief, if it exists, that the Union soldier must have his leg amputated in order to avoid gangrene). The final years of Siegel’s career saw a decline in his movies’ quality. But there are a couple of hard-hitting scenes here, and the performances of Eastwood, Page, Elizabeth Hartman and Pamelyn Ferdin (a youngster) are pleasurably true.