The wheelchair-bound matriarch of an English family uses her handicap to cynically manipulate all those around her. She coldly destroys a daughter's relationship with a man she truly loves,... See full summary »
The wheelchair-bound matriarch of an English family uses her handicap to cynically manipulate all those around her. She coldly destroys a daughter's relationship with a man she truly loves, and her machinations almost drive the son's fiance to suicide. As the family realizes what she is doing, she becomes even more calculating - and mentally unbalanced. Written by
SUSAN PETERS had been an Oscar nominee already(RANDOM HARVEST) and a star-on-the-rise when a hunting accident led to paralysis. But this gifted young performer did not stop acting. Despite difficulties, she starred in THE SIGN OF THE RAM and gave a remarkable performance. As a manipulative, youthful stepmother, she creates dangerous problems for all those around her. Ms. Peters' performance is all the more striking, because it is not the kind of sympathetic role one might expect from a true-life actress in pain. She blithely moves from decent, lovely, caring woman to a woman desperately seeking control of all those around her. Her growth in the characterization is powerful, and she deserved award consideration. Everything else in the film works well -- from the work of Alexander Knox, Peggy Ann Garner, Phyllis Thaxter, Allen Roberts, Dame May Whitty, etal. to the cinematography of the cliffside house, to the art direction, music, etal. John Sturges' direction manages to avoid the pitfalls of melodrama as much as possible. But it is Susan Peters' charisma that makes this an important, albeit forgotten, work of art. She would go on to touring the country in THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET and onto TV in the MISS SUSAN series, but she deserved further critical acclaim. This film should be given more prominence; it is a strong work starring a fine actress.
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