Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Damned (1962)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Damned (1962, UK) (aka These Are the Damned)

In director Joseph Losey's bleak, post-war hybrid of drama, sci-fi, and horror, based on H.L. Lawrence's novel The Children of Light, and with the tagline: "Children of Ice And Darkness! They Are the Lurking Unseen Evil You Dare Not Face Alone!" [Note: It was similar to the previous film Village of the Damned (1960, UK), but not related to Luchino Visconti's The Damned (1969, It.) (La caduta degli dei)]:

  • the stunning title credits sequence: an aerial bird's eye view of waves far below crashing on a remote shore near a rocky cliff (on the south coast of England), where grotesque bronze sculptures were set along its edge - one of the disfigured, fragmented figures (looking like charred remains of humans) was a bust of an equine face on a wooden platform positioned looking away from the sea, and another of a prone or fallen human
  • in the dramatic opening sequence - there was a montage, beginning with a distant view of the coastal Southern England resort of Weymouth, accompanied by an un-named rock band singing Black Leather Rock: "Black leather, black leather, rock-rock-rock. Black leather, black leather, ta-ta-ta. Black leather, black leather, hip-hip-hip. I got that feeling - black leather rock!..."; the camera panned downward from the town's clock tower to reveal a set-up - Simon Wells (MacDonald Carey), a recently-divorced, middle-aged American tourist (and insurance executive drop-out) was on vacation in his Dolce Vita yacht moored in Weymouth; he was lured to follow sexy 20 year-old local Joan (Shirley Anne Field), who was being used as bait for a mugging, to steal his wallet and watch; she was associated with a menacing, leather-clad motorcycle gang known as the Teddy Boys, led by thuggish King (Oliver Reed) wearing a checkered-plaid jacket and wielding a knife-tipped umbrella; King was soon identified as Joan's over-possessive, semi-incestuous, unstable brother
  • both on the run from King and after having sex together, the defiant Joan and Simon made a cliff-side discovery of a top-secret military compound attached to an underground bunker with a network of caves; the property was owned by the sultry, cynical bohemian sculptress Freya Neilson (Viveca Lindfors) who had an art studio (or 'birdhouse') on the cliff-side
  • Freya's boyfriend Bernard (Alexander Knox), a government bureaucrat and scientist, was in charge of nine imprisoned children (all eleven years old) with ice-cold body temperatures and skin; isolated from the world, the children were the subjects of experiments; they were being educated by closed-circuit TV, and monitored by a bank of video cameras
The Nine Mutant, Radioactive Children in a
Secret Military Compound on a Cliffside
  • the nine parentless, mutant children were named after the Queen and Kings of England: Victoria, Elizabeth, Anne, Mary, Richard, Henry, William, George, and Charles; the isolated and lonely children soon regarded Joan and Simon as their parents
  • the sequence of the liberation of the children, who were dangerously radioactive; they were led out of the caves by Joan and Simon to discover a small flower - and to briefly enjoy the sunlight during an aborted escape attempt
  • the children's sad round-up by soldiers (in radiation suits), under Bernard's supervision, who were dragged back to the bunker; confronting Bernard who stood above him, Simon yelled out: "I've seen you before. You're the man that knows all about violence, aren't ya? You're the man who knows all the answers, aren't ya? Why are you doing this? What's it all for? What are you trying to make out of these children? What do you want with us? Answer me. Will you answer me?"
  • the gradual reveal - later explained by Bernard to Freya, was that the British government was preparing the "nine precious" school-children to inherit a post-apocalyptic world (they were all born as the result of a nuclear accident with their mothers and exposed to radiation - and therefore resistant to a future and inevitable nuclear horror and its fallout): "To survive the destruction that is inevitably coming, we need a new kind of man. An accident gave us these nine precious children - the only human beings who have a chance to live in the conditions which must inevitably exist when the time comes. Every civilized nation is searching, searching for the key to survival that we have found...My children are the buried seeds of life. When that time comes, the thing itself will open up the door, and my children will go out to inherit the Earth"
  • Freya was aghast at the imprisonment of the children and Bernard's ghastly plan: "After all that man has made and still has to make, is this the extent of your dream? To set nine ice-cold children free in the ashes of the universe. I have no choice, I have no choice at all!" - and she firmly refused to endorse his plan, and returned to her sculpting
  • meanwhile, one boy Henry had begged and received a ride in King's stolen car to get away, although King knew it would be fatal to him - he drove the boy away, then ordered him from the car when overcome by radiation sickness: ("Get out now. I can't take you anywhere. Go back, Henry...Get out of the car. Look after yourself...You're poison. Don't you know you're poison? You're killing me"); however, two helicopters intercepted them and descended, surrounded the car, and kidnapped Henry, while King drove off and deliberately (and suicidally) crashed his car off a bridge
  • the chilling conclusion: after exposure to radiation and lethal contamination from being in contact with the children, Simon and Joan departed on his yacht (to try to escape to France) with a mechanical helicopter (like a vulture) trailing them and hovering above, readied to destroy them after their inevitable deaths from radiation poisoning; they spoke their final words to each other before kissing: (Simon: "We can start again, Joan. We can go back again to the beginning" Joan: "We can't, Simon. We can't leave the children")
  • after Bernard shot and assassinated his mistress Freya at her cliff-side studio as she sculpted one last time, there was one final image -- the camera panned along the coastline, overhearing the distressed screaming and cries of the children ("Help! Help! Help! Help! Please help us! Someone help us! Someone help us! Please help us! Help! Help! Please, help us, please. Someone help us! Please help. Help! Help! Please help us. Someone help us. Help! Help! Help us!") - a distant view of vacationing beach-goers at Weymouth meant that the children were unable to be heard

Title Credits

The Set-Up: Joan (Shirley Anne Field) Followed by American Tourist Simon Wells (MacDonald Carey)

The Menacing Gang of Teddy Boys Led by King (Oliver Reed)

Simon with Joan

Simon and Joan in a Confrontation With Bernard

Forbidden Car Ride: Mutant Henry with King

Yacht Escape by Lethally-Poisoned Simon and Joan, Trailed by a Helicopter


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