Tam Lin


1h 46m 1971

Film Details

Also Known As
Games and Toys, The Ballad of Tam Lin, The Devil's Widow, The Devil's Woman, Tom Lynn, Toys
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1971
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Commonwealth United Corp.; Winkast Film Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Edinburgh, Scotland, Great Britain; Iver Heath, England, Great Britain; London, England, Grat Britain; London, England, Great Britain; Peebles, Scotland, Great Britain; Scotland, Great Britain
Screenplay Information
Based on the legend of Tam Lin and a ballad adapted by Robert Burns (ca. 1792).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 46m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

The wealthy and enchanting Mrs. Michaela Cazaret attempts to delay middle age by surrounding herself with adoring young people, who live decadently at her expense, playing silly games and having no obligations except to please her. Micky's favorite among her followers is twenty-one-year-old Tom Lynn, whom she has taken as a lover. Although he expresses love for her, Micky worries about how long his devotion will continue. At Micky's whim, her entourage travels from her London abode to Carter Hall, a manor house she has bought in the border country of Scotland. There, in the beautiful countryside, Tom becomes attracted to the vicar's daughter, Janet Ainsley, and they make love. Their encounters do not remain secret from Micky's intuition, or the many eyes of her followers and the skulking observance of Elroy, who has been her personal secretary and accountant for almost twenty years. Increasingly repulsed by his idle lifestyle, Tom attends a church service conducted by Janet's father Julian and afterward refuses to return home when he is sent for. Instead, he, Janet and Lottie, a village child, go on a picnic. When he returns to Carter Hall, Oliver, one of the followers who envies Tom's position with Micky, taunts him publicly about Janet. Their interaction comes to blows, prompting Micky to interrupt and order Oliver to stop making trouble or leave. After beckoning Tom to a private conversation, Elroy first reminds Tom how much he has to lose if he spurns Micky. When Tom seems unmoved, Elroy tells him about previous young lovers who decided to leave Micky and shows Tom pictures he had taken of the gruesome fatal accidents the men encountered. Elroy cryptically warns Tom that he is in charge of keeping "all the accounts." Upon entering the bedroom he shares with Micky, Tom is startled when Micky appears wearing a mask and demands that she stop playing games. She replies that games and toys are all anyone has to share. Claiming that she is wasting his life, he declares he wants to leave, but Micky insists that he belongs to her, and then seduces him. On another day, when Tom meets with Janet, he is quiet and distracted, wanting to be free of Micky's companionship, yet sensing he cannot. When Janet logically suggests that Micky cannot kill him for leaving her, Tom, upset, insists that she cannot understand his situation and returns to the house. Later, Janet realizes she is pregnant and consults good-hearted, older Miss Gibson, who casts horoscopes and has helped other girls in similar predicaments. Although the woman warns Janet that she will regret having an abortion, she arranges for her to visit a doctor in Edinburgh. Meanwhile, Tom, without consulting Janet, announces to Micky that he is going away to think, begging her to free him. Micky agrees to allow him to leave, if he will first spend a romantic evening with her. However, after a night in the city with Micky that ends at a nightclub, Tom prepares to leave and Micky angrily tells him that he has one week before she hunts him down and kills him. After returning to Carter Hall alone, she orders the young people away and tells Elroy to find her new people with whom to play. Soon after, Oliver tries to replace Tom in Micky's esteem and is told that he must earn the "glittering prize." Two days later, Janet arrives looking for Tom, and Micky manipulates her into admitting that she is pregnant and ambiguously suggests that she might help her. Later, seeing no other option, Janet proceeds to the doctor's office to have the operation. At the door, she is met by Tom, who has arrived prompted by an unsigned postcard, presumably from Micky, telling him about Janet's condition. Tom takes Janet to a riverside trailer where he is now living. One week after the day he left Micky he spots Elroy lurking nearby and realizes he is in danger. Hastily, he decides they must go to London and tells the confused Janet that he loves her, but that she must hold on to him. However, before they can get away, Tom is abducted by Elroy, Oliver and their cohorts and taken to Carter Hall. Accepting his doom, Tom tells Micky she can arrange for his death but cannot control his feelings. Promising to give him an "outside" chance of surviving, Micky convinces Tom to drink from a drugged goblet. Oliver then announces to the group that they will play a party game, in which he will be the murderer and Tom the victim. As the drug begins to take effect, sounds and sights become distorted for Tom. He tries to get away, but is toyed with by the group, until he falls down the stairs. When Oliver announces he is dead from a broken neck, Micky orders Elroy to bring him back to life and, at Elroy's touch, Tom awakens. Given a three-minute lead to drive away before the others come after him, Tom stumbles out of the house, where Janet, who has just arrived, gets in the car with him. Under the influence of the drugs, Tom drives wildly until he swerves off the road and abandons the car, running. In his drug-induced state, he imagines that he is fighting with a bear, but Janet comes to his rescue. Breaking free of her, he runs to a lake, where he hallucinates that a cobra is twisting around him, but again, Janet's arrival causes the vision to recede. Still out of his senses, he runs off, believing that he is burning alive, despite the water around him. Janet catches up and holds him. Micky, Elroy and Oliver approach, but before Micky orders the group to kill Tom, Oliver intervenes. Claiming that their plan failed and that "it is over," Oliver convinces Micky and the others to abandon their game and leave, after which Tom begins to regain his senses. Later, as the group jets to some new destination, Oliver, who is now Micky's lover, confirms with her that she still has plenty of money.

Film Details

Also Known As
Games and Toys, The Ballad of Tam Lin, The Devil's Widow, The Devil's Woman, Tom Lynn, Toys
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1971
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Commonwealth United Corp.; Winkast Film Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Edinburgh, Scotland, Great Britain; Iver Heath, England, Great Britain; London, England, Grat Britain; London, England, Great Britain; Peebles, Scotland, Great Britain; Scotland, Great Britain
Screenplay Information
Based on the legend of Tam Lin and a ballad adapted by Robert Burns (ca. 1792).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 46m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Working titles of the film were The Ballad of Tam Lin, Tom Lynn, Toys and Games and Toys, and re-release titles included The Devil's Widow and The Devil's Woman. The title on the viewed print was The Ballad of Tam Lin. Although there is a 1971 copyright statement for Winkast Film Productions, Ltd. onscreen, the film was not registered for copyright at the time of its release. It was copyrighted on March 3, 1999 under the number RE-671-589. Hollywood Reporter and Motion Picture Herald reviews list the running time as 107 minutes, while the Variety review lists the duration as 104 minutes. The sequence set in London precedes the opening credits. Afterward, as the characters enter Scotland, director Roddy McDowall is heard in voice-over talking about a story belonging to that part of the country in which a young man is held enthralled by a beautiful lady. The contemporary musical group The Pentangle sings their version of "The Ballad of Tam Lin" on the soundtrack, as well as rock-style songs, intermittently throughout the film.
       After seeing each other briefly near the manor house, "Tom Lynn" and "Janet Ainsley" encounter each other by accident while walking in the countryside. Their immediate attraction is shown using a montage of still photographs, ending with still and motion shots of their kisses superimposed over each other. Slow-motion photography and other optical effects were used to convey Tom's state of mind when he is drugged. Early in the film "Micky" gives her sunglasses to Tom to wear, an act that implies her control over him. Later, when he breaks free of her, the sunglasses are returned to Micky and, at the end of the film, "Oliver" wears them.
       The story of Tam Lin is an ancient legend from the Scottish border region. Variants of a ballad based on the legend were collected by Francis James Child, and both Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns published versions of the story, which has intrigued folksingers into the late twentieth century. The story is about a young mortal man who is captured by the queen of the fairies until a mortal woman, with whom he has fallen in love, rescues him by holding tight to him as the queen turns him into various frightening beasts. Many details in the film, such as Janet's pregnancy, parallel various versions of the story. The film often hints at the supernatural elements of the original story and the onscreen credits list several of the actors as belonging to Micky's "coven [an assembly of witches]," but Micky is never overtly labeled a witch and some details, such as Tom's transformation into various beasts, are given a conventional explanation.
       According to a March 1969 Variety news item, Tam Lin was the first of three pictures made as part of a co-production deal between Commonwealth United Corp. and the Jerry Gershwin-Elliott Kastner production company. As reported by a July 1969 Variety news item, portions of the film were shot on location around Peebles, Scotland, and interiors were shot at Pinewood Studios outside London. The July Variety news item named Gerald Vaughan-Hughes as the screenwriter, but he was not listed in the onscreen credits and the extent of his contribution to the final film has not been determined.
       According to Filmfacts, Commonwealth United folded shortly after Tam Lin's principal photography was completed in late October 1969, and the unfinished property was acquired by American International Pictures, where it remained uncompleted. According to a November 1971 Variety article, McDowall offered personally to handle the post-production work in order to get the film on the market. As reported by the January 26, 1973 Chicago Sun-Times review, McDowall said his intention in directing the film was to produce a tribute to Ava Gardner, who portrayed Micky and was then forty-seven years old. The film was previewed in late 1971, but received unfavorable reviews, which resulted in the distributor canceling the opening engagements. According to the January 1973 Chicago Sun-Times review, the film was re-released in 1973 as The Devil's Widow, and other, mostly unpublicized bookings, were made of the film under that title or The Devil's Woman. Eventually the film was shown on television with its original title, Tam Lin.
       Tam Lin marked McDowall's only directorial effort and the first major film role of Stephanie Beacham, who portrayed Janet. The character "Elroy" was Richard Wattis' only dramatic role. Although his appearance in the film has not been confirmed, a June 1969 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Gary Burton to the cast.
       In a filmed interview for the 1998 restoration of Tam Lin, McDowall said that the picture disappeared until it seemed his print of the film was the only remaining one. McDowall reported that Martin Scorsese viewed the film, tracked down the copyright and with Republic Pictures, retrieved the elements of the film and restored it.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1971

Released in United States 1971