23 May 1962

Miracle workers

The Miracle Worker, Arthur Penn’s groundbreaking film dealing with severe physical disability, was released on this day in 1962. Based on the stage play of the same name, it told the story of Helen Keller, a deaf and blind girl who is tutored by Anne Sullivan, an extraordinary student from the Perkins School for the Blind. Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke won Academy Awards for their intense empathetic performances as Sullivan and Keller respectively, and the film was praised for its sensitivity and compassion. But it was not to everyone’s taste, as this letter to a London newspaper showed…

Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft


From the Evening Standard, 1962

I took my two young sons to see the “Miracle Worker” film at the Empire cinema in Leicester Square, and by and large we enjoyed the experience. I was annoyed, however, when they showed a short film about a school for blind children, passed round collecting tins. I am surely not alone in regarding this as gross impertinence.

I’m normally the first to cough up for a good cause, and have nothing but sympathy for the poor kiddies. But when all is said and done, I go to the cinema to get away from these people.

Mr Eric Naisby, Bexleyheath

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