Penn's remarkable screen version of William Gibson's play about Helen Keller, which he directed on Broadway. It's a stunningly impressive piece of work, typically (for Penn) deriving much of its power from the performances. Patty Duke as the young girl born deaf and blind, and Anne Bancroft as the stubborn Irish governess who helps her overcome her inability to speak, spark off each other with a violence and emotional honesty rarely seen in the cinema, lighting up each other's loneliness, vulnerability, and plain fear. What is in fact astonishing is the way that, while constructing a piece of very carefully directed and intelligently written melodrama, Penn manages to avoid sentimentality or even undue optimism about the value of Helen's education, and the way he achieves such a feeling of raw spontaneity in the acting.
Cast and crew