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Secret Ceremony (1968)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  23 October 1968 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 1,205 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 18 critic

A penniless woman meets a strange girl who insists she is her long-lost mother, and becomes enmeshed in a web of deception, and perhaps madness, in this powerful psychological thriller.



(short story "Ceremonia secreta"),
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Title: Secret Ceremony (1968)

Secret Ceremony (1968) on IMDb 6.5/10

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Pamela Brown ...


Leonora, a prostitute, mourns the death by drowning years earlier of her daughter. She encounters a strange waif-like girl, Cenci, who bears a strong resemblance to her lost child. Cenci is herself struck by the great resemblance of Leonora to her own mother, whose death the mentally unstable Cenci has been unable to accept or even acknowledge. The two women quickly develop a symbiotic relationship, moving in and out of the illusion that each is the lost loved one of the other. The complicating factor is the arrival of Albert, Cenci's stepfather, whose incestuous attachment to her may well be the cause of her mind's unbalance. With Albert's arrival, no one in the strange trio is safe. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's time to speak of unspoken things... See more »


Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

23 October 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ceremonia secreta  »

Box Office


$3,200,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Robert Douglas and Michael Strong were not in this film, appearing only in scenes added to it for American TV showings. These scenes were shot in Hollywood by a different director and crew several months after the film's cinema release. Joseph Losey neither authorized nor approved of these changes, which he described as "absolutely illegal". This severely amended version was, fortunately, withdrawn from circulation eventually. See more »


Cenci: You missed a fabulous dinner, mummy!
Leonora: You bet your sweet ass.
See more »

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User Reviews

A bizarre fantasy world concocted by two disturbed women
16 February 2001 | by (Weaverville, NC) – See all my reviews

Interesting film about two women who use each other to concoct a fantasy world of instability that ends in tragedy. Mia Farrow is an unstable young heiress whose mother has died. Elizabeth Taylor is a middle aged hooker whose daughter died in childhood. Farrow spies Taylor on a bus and is struck by her physical similarity to her mother. Farrow, in a long brown wig, resembles Taylors daughter. Taylor reluctantly allows Farrow to take her home, feed her tea and sausages, and slowly comes to fill the role of the dead mother, even dressing in the woman's clothes and confronting some thieving elderly aunts. The psychological charade is complicated when the two go on holiday as mother and daughter and happen to encounter Farrow's stepfather, played by Robert Mitchum.

A fascinating psychological study of two damaged women and their own disturbed inner worlds, SECRET CEREMONY is a great movie for anyone looking for something different. Elizabeth Taylor gives a nuanced performance in this film, despite having chomped scenery unchecked in some other films from this era(BOOM, X Y AND ZEE). Highly recommended.

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