Eye of the Devil

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Eye of the Devil
Original film poster
Directed by J. Lee Thompson
Produced by John Calley
Martin Ransohoff
Screenplay by Robin Estridge
Dennis Murphy
Based on Day of the Arrow 
by Philip Loraine
Starring Deborah Kerr
David Niven
Donald Pleasence
David Hemmings
Sharon Tate
Music by Gary McFarland
Cinematography Erwin Hillier
Edited by Ernest Walter
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1966,original) Warner Bros. (2011, DVD)
Release dates
  • July 1966 (1966-07)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Eye of the Devil is a 1966 British crime/horror film with occult and supernatural themes directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Deborah Kerr and David Niven. The film is set in rural France and was filmed at the Château de Hautefort and in England.[1] Eye of the Devil is based on the novel Day of the Arrow by Robin Estridge and was initially titled Thirteen.[2]


from the film's trailer

David Niven plays the owner of a vineyard, who is called back to the estate when it falls on hard times. Accompanied by his wife (Deborah Kerr), the couple are confronted by a beautiful witch (Sharon Tate), who also lives on the estate with her brother (David Hemmings). As time passes it becomes clear that a blood sacrifice is expected to return the vineyard to its former glory.


Eye of the Devil was filmed in 1965 with Kim Novak initially cast as the wife, but in November 1965, and with only two weeks of shooting to be completed, Novak injured her back in a riding incident. While doing an important scene on location in France, she was thrown from a horse.[3] Unable to complete the picture, she was replaced by Deborah Kerr.[4] As a result, many scenes had to be reshot, with Novak seen only in some long shots.[4] However, David Hemmings recalls in his autobiography that he witnessed a bitter argument between Kim Novak and Martin Ransohoff near the end of filming led Kim Novak to be sacked and the film to be reshot with Deborah Kerr.[5]

The film went through several directors, including Michael Anderson, the first director, Sidney J. Furie, and Arthur Hiller, before J. Lee Thompson was brought in to complete the film.[6] Terry Southern was brought in to do an uncredited "tighting and brightning" of the screenplay.[7]

To give the pagan rites some authenticity, Alex Sanders, an English occultist and Wiccan, was hired as a consultant to the film.[8]


Critical reception and box office[edit]

The film features the debut performance of Sharon Tate, cast by Filmways executive Martin Ransohoff, who hailed her as his great discovery. Released two years after filming had completed, the film attracted little attention and had little impact on Tate's career. A The New York Times review referred to Tate's "chillingly beautiful but expressionless" performance.

Although Eye of the Devil was not a commercial success in the United States when first released, it was popular in Europe, and it has acquired a degree of cult status, largely due to its surreal themes, and the 1969 murder of Tate. The film is also notable for its distinguished supporting cast,[4] which includes veteran actors Donald Pleasence, Flora Robson, Emlyn Williams, Edward Mulhare and John Le Mesurier.


Eye of the Devil was released to DVD by Warner Home Video on February 21, 2011 via its Warner Archive DVD-on-demand service as a Region 1 widescreen DVD.


  1. ^ Crowther, Bosley (7 December 1967). "Screen: 'Eye of the Devil' Begins Run". New York Times. 
  2. ^ p.307Chibnall, Steve J. Lee Thompson Manchester University Press, 2000
  3. ^ Kleno, Larry Kleno (1980). KIM NOVAK on Camera. LaJolla, California: A.S. Barnes & Company. pp. 230–231. 
  4. ^ a b c Capua, Michelangelo Capua (2010). Deborah Kerr: A Biography. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. pp. 148–49. ISBN 978-0-7864-5882-0. 
  5. ^ p.125 Hemmings, David Blow Up... and Other Exaggerations: The Autobiography of David Hemmings Robson, 2004
  6. ^ Statman, Alisa & Tate, Brie Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family's Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice HarperCollins, 21 February 2012
  7. ^ Hill, Lee A Grand Guy: The Art and Life of Terry Southern HarperCollins, 20 February 2001
  8. ^ Ellis, Bill (2000). Raising the Devil: Satanism, New Religions, and the Media. University Press of Kentucky. p. 157. ISBN 0-8131-2170-1. 

External links[edit]