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Johnny Belinda (1948)

 -  Drama  -  14 September 1948 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 2,544 users  
Reviews: 50 user | 16 critic

In post-war Cape Breton, a doctor's efforts to tutor a deaf/mute woman are undermined when she is raped, and the resulting pregnancy causes scandal to swirl.

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Title: Johnny Belinda (1948)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Stephen McNally ...
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Rosalind Ivan ...
Dan Seymour ...
Mabel Paige ...
Ida Moore ...
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Storyline

Dr. Robert Richardson, a dedicated young general practitioner, seeks to establish himself in an isolated fishing village on Cape Breton Island off the Nova Scotia coast. The population is poor and the struggling physician generally gets paid for his efforts in barter. When he meets Belinda McDonald, a young deaf mute callously dismissed by family and neighbors as "the dummy," he alone senses her innate intelligence. He overcomes the initial skepticism of her flinty, gruff father and indifferently cold aunt, who operate a hardscrabble grist mill and farm, and devotes himself to teaching the young girl sign language and lip-reading. Hopes are even raised that she might even eventually qualify for a medical procedure that might improve her condition. Her optimism is crushed, however, when she raped by Locky McCormick, a brutish local fisherman. Traumatized, she is unable to communicate the outrage to her family, who are baffled and angry when they learn she is pregnant. The local gossips... Written by (duke1029@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

There was temptation in her helpless silence...and then torment See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

14 September 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Belinda  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Max Steiner received an Oscar nomination for his score, one of 10 that he provided for movies in 1948. Other notable films from that banner year that benefited from his input included two for John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and Key Largo (1948). See more »

Goofs

The adoption papers from the council misspell the possessive "its" as "it's." See more »

Quotes

Mrs. McKee: Mrs. Moore is her own worst enemy.
Mrs. Poggety: Not while I'm alive, she isn't!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Year of the Tick (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Wedding March
(1843) (uncredited)
from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Played at the church after the wedding
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Silence Yields Oscar Gold
28 January 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The movies had been talking for 20 years when Johnny Belinda came out in 1948. Those first Oscars were awarded for silent films and it took 20 years for another Oscar to be awarded for a performance without a single word of dialog.

Jane Wyman, who for the first ten years or so of her film career, played a lot of second leads, proves she could have competed with Mary Pickford or Gloria Swanson in the silent era, got an Oscar for her career role as Belinda McDonald. Belinda is a deaf mute who gets raped and impregnated by the town lout and because of what she is, she can neither name her attacker or speak out against the small minds that inhabit the town she lives in.

The story takes place in one of the Canadian isles off Nova Scotia and it begins with the arrival of a new doctor, Lew Ayres in town. One night he gets a call for a veterinary problem from farmers Charles Bickford and his sister Agnes Moorehead. While there he meets Bickford's mute daughter, Jane Wyman.

It's a rough life on that farm which doesn't yield much for creature comforts. Rough of course for Wyman, but also rough for Bickford who brought his sister in to help raise the child after his wife died in childbirth with Wyman. They're hard people, but they have a tender side also which is brought out as the film develops.

Johnny Belinda brought home a flock of Oscar nominations, for Ayres as Best Actor, for Bickford as Best Supporting Actor, for Agnes Moorehead as Best Supporting Actress, for the film itself, for Director Jean Negulesco. But only Wyman got the prize on Oscar night.

The closest performance I can think of to Wyman's in more modern times is that of Hilary Swank as trans-gender Brandon Teena. Swank hasn't the education to articulate her feelings either just as Wyman doesn't until Ayres teaches her to sign, still an audience made of statues will understand and be moved.

In addition to those already mentioned, look for fine performances from Stephen McNally as the lout and Jan Sterling as his wife.

But most of all look to be terribly moved by Jane Wyman.


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