Muriel Spark, the Scottish author who died last Thursday, was probably better known in the literary world than in the movie industry. However, several of her novels were adapted successfully into movies in the 1960s and 1970s; the most popular and memorable of these adaptations was the 1969 film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Jay Presson Allen adapted the 1962 novel into a stage play and later into the movie.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was a breakout film for its 35-year-old star Maggie Smith (above), who received a Best Actress Oscar for her work in the title role. Decades later, Smith also starred in another adaptation of a Spark novel, the 1992 made-for-TV British film Memento Mori. Although The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was remade as a TV miniseries in 1978, Miss Brodie and Smith are inextricably linked for many of us. However, the book was partially autobiographical, so perhaps we should be thinking of Spark when we recall the free-thinking, domineering Scottish schoolteacher for whom the book and movie were named.