THE CRUCIBLE (1996) C 123m dir: Nicholas Hytner

w/Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder, Joan Allen, Paul Scofield, Bruce Davison, Rob Campbell, Jeffrey Jones, Peter Vaughan, Karron Graves, Charlayne Woodard

From The Movie Guide: "After more than 40 years, a classic of the American stage comes to the screen with powerful performances and an adaptation penned by playwright Arthur Miller himself.

"Salem, Massachusetts, 1692. Respected citizen John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) has committed adultery with his young servant, Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder). After her dismissal by Proctor's prim wife, Elizabeth (Joan Allen), the scorned maid and a dozen other girls convene in the woods for a shamanistic ritual, during which Abigail calls for Elizabeth's demise and the return of Proctor's affections. The 'coven' is spied by the passing Reverend Parris (Bruce Davison), and rumors begin to circulate about witchery. ...

"The Salem Witch Trials, a moment during which mad authority came cloaked in piety, are a famous metaphor for the McCarthy witch-hunts of the 1940s and '50s. But Miller's play is also a timeless tale of the necessity of taking a principled stand against the ill winds of popular fascism. The notion of someone choosing death over 'life with a bad name' may be a head-scratcher in our morally ambiguous culture, but director Nicholas Hytner (THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE) infuses Miller's spellbinding argument with a passionate kineticism. Day-Lewis, the embodiment of rough-hewn nobility, and Ryder, a dervish of fierce emotionality, head a superb cast, with Allen in particular turning in a remarkably precise, high-strung performance."

Allen was Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actress, as was Miller for Best Screenplay.