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One dark summer night, Francesca Cunningham, a once world famed pianist, escapes from her hospital room and tries to commit suicide by jumping off a local bridge. She is rescued and taken back to the hospital and undergoes psychological treatment by Dr. Larsen. Larsen, desperately wants to know the events and persons who drove her to this state and help her. He makes Francesca talk about her past - a past with a controlling guardian, Nicholas, no friends, kept apart from the man she loved and forced to practice the piano 5-6 hours a day. Written by
James Mason and Ann Todd had an affair while working on the film, as disclosed by Todd to Sheridan Morley when he was writing his 1989 biography of Mason, "Odd Man Out". See more »
When Peter writes a note to Francesca in a nightclub, she turns it over and writes her reply on its back. But when Peter holds up the note to read her answer, its back is blank; his original note is missing. See more »
Excellent psychological thriller about a repressed pianist (Ann Todd) and her equally repressed cousin (James Mason) who is also her guardian.
Slow but compelling story about a young girl with musical talent who is sent to live with her odd cousin. They seem to despise one another and have only music in common. He tries to mold her into a concert pianist but she falls in love with an American band leader (Hugh McDermott). He whisks her off to Europe to continue her education. She becomes a famous pianist but is always under the Svengali-like spell of her lame cousin until she attempts suicide by jumping off a bride. Enter the doctor (Herbert Lom) who tries to unlock her secrets.
The music is glorious but it's the stunning Ann Todd who is mesmerizing here. A cool icy blonde with a Garbo mouth, Miss Todd (once married to David Lean) is one of the greatly underrated English actresses of the 40s. She is just superb here as Francesca (not Francis and she's NOT Ann Harding as mentioned in other reviews here). Todd has an uncanny ability to play repressed yet volcanic women. She was equally excellent in films like SO EVIL MY LOVE, MADELEINE, TIME WITHOUT PITY, and THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS. She also got to work for Hitchcock in the US in THE PARADINE CASE.
As Todd and Mason play cat and mouse, the viewer is left to guess what their secrets are and how the men in her life fit in. Todd's story is basically told in flashback while she;s under hypnosis. We never learn Mason's story.
Handsome film and well worth sticking with. Also a word must be said for Todd's amazing piano-playing scenes. She displays about the best keyboard work in any film I can think of. Her scenes as the pianist as excellent; my guess is she could also play in real life.
While Deborah Kerr, Greer Garson, and even Margaret Lockwood became major stars and well-known in the US, Ann Todd remains virtually unknown. What a pity. She's superb.
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