During the Civil War an injured corporal , Clint Eastwood , is taken by the women of a girls' school to recuperate himself . As the Southern school is run by a housekeeper , Geraldine Page , and there appears a teacher : Elizabeth Hartman and six students and an African-American servant . The soldier becomes the catalyst for twisted situations with incidents full of hatred and jealousy among its inhabitants . He arranges to seduce both , a pupil -Jo Ann Harris- and a teacher -Elizabeth Hartman , but things go wrong.
Offbeat , rare and well paced psychological melodrama by the great team formed by Eastwood and Siegel , though disappointed the spectators faithful to his ordinary action films . Maybe the stranger , yet spellbinding combination of two genius -Clint and Donald- ever made , being based on the 1966 novel , "The Painted Devil" by Thomas P. Cullinan . The flick soon develops into a kind of full blood drama , smouldering with intrigue , suspense , tragic events and suppressed passions ; and all of them lead to an unpredictable and startling conclusion . Clint gives a nice acting as a squinty-eyed soldier who arrives in a seminary for young ladies and who soon reveals his opportunist nature . Excellent interpretation from Geraldine Page as zealous ruler , she is a fading Southern woman , brooding over the past , and Elizabeth Hartman as a naive South belle who falls for Eastwood .
Atmospheric and attractive musical score by Lalo Schifrin , including song sung by Clint Eastwood himself . Colorful and evocative cinematography by Bruce Surtees . This daring change of pace for director Donald Siegel was compellingly and methodically made . Being an unusual Donald fare , but for patient audiences a rewarding , rich movie and Siegel's favorite of all his movies . However , being commercially a failure because Universal Studios released it with advertisements that suggested it was an action movie . Siegel directed good films of all kinds of genres as Invasion of body snatchers , Madigan , Charley Varrick , The Shootist , Ríot in cell Block 11 , Flaming star , Big steal , Black Windmill , Private hell , Rough cut , and a lot of movies starred by Eastwood as Escape from Alcatraz , Two mules for Sister Sarah , Coogan's bluff and Dirty Harry