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Eighteen-year-old Esther has been deaf and blind since the accident which killed her mother. Wealthy Margaret Landi, a native of Esther's village in Ireland, is talked into helping to educate and possibly heal Esther. Margaret grows to love Esther as a daughter, but finds Esther's innocence threatened by sleazy promoters and her own sleazy ex-husband. Radiant performance by Heather Sears. Based on a book that nearly had Helen Keller's co-workers suing for libel due to perceived parallels between Carlo Landi and the husband of Annie Sullivan. Written by
Shot in the United Kingdom and the continent, The Story Of Esther Costello seems to be a hybrid production of The Miracle Worker and Johnny Belinda. Heather Sears's performance in the title role might have been worthy of Oscar consideration had not Jane Wyman already won an award playing a deaf mute.
Joan Crawford plays a wealthy American who is separated from her husband Rossano Brazzi and touring Ireland, specifically the village of her birth. While there the village priest Denis O'Dea introduces Joan to Sears who is deaf, blind, and mute. In a prologue we see why she is that way, as a child she found a cache of gunpowder and grenades left over from the Rebellion which explodes killing her mother and leaving her as she is.
Eventually Joan takes Heather from the squalid conditions she's living in courtesy of her aunt Maureen Delaney and gives her the Helen Keller treatment. When Sears becomes a celebrity of sorts, Brazzi reenters the picture see the cash cow Sears has become what with the charities organized in her name.
A rather unbelievable 'cure' for Sears mars what could have been a much better drama. The players all perform well, particularly Crawford who is in her best Mildred Pierce mode as an adoptive mother to a much more appreciative child than Ann Blyth.
Definitely one for Joan Crawford fans.
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