31 user 20 critic

Secret Ceremony (1968)

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"),
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 <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


No one admitted the last 12 minutes. 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?


Julie Christie turned down the role of Cenci. See more »


Leonora: Dear God, by whose mercy...
Cenci: Dear God, by whose mercy...
Leonora: ...I am shielded for a few hours...
Cenci: ...I am shielded for a few hours...
Leonora: ...let no-one snatch me from this heaven.
Cenci: ...let no-one snatch me from this heaven.
See more »

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User Reviews

Very cryptic film.
7 August 2002 | by See all my reviews

The idea (already described in other reviews) is both improbable and audacious, and the film is initially intriguing, but ultimately goes nowhere. There is a difference between not pandering to your audience and completely shutting it out, which is what director Losey has done here (especially regarding Mia Farrow's character and what she is all about). However, Robert Mitchum has a very challenging role - he plays a totally reprehensible character - and pulls it off beautifully. By the way, the previous reviewer is right on the money about the editing goof in the slapping scene; unacceptable for a director with such a big name. (**1/2)

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