6.6/10
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31 user 21 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.

Director:

Writers:

(short story "Ceremonia secreta"),
Reviews
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Leonora
...
Cenci
...
Albert
...
Hannah
Pamela Brown ...
Hilda
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

No one admitted the last 12 minutes. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 October 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ceremonia secreta  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,200,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 This severely amended version was, fortunately, withdrawn from circulation eventually.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 »

Quotes

Leonora: I had a daughter once, a very unusual child.
Albert: What happened to her?
Leonora: She vanished.
[snaps her fingers]
See more »

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User Reviews

Secret Ceremony: A First-Rate Psycho-Drama.
29 May 2001 | by (cincinnati, ohio) – See all my reviews

Joseph Losey's brilliant psychological drama follows the strange relationship between a prostitute(Elizabeth Taylor) and a waif-like girl(Mia Farrow) who resembles her deceased daughter. Taylor also bears an incredible likeness to Farrow's deceased mother, enabling the two women to create a world of their own where they can live as mother and daughter. Their secret world is disrupted, however, when Farrow's lecherous stepfather(Robert Mitchum) enters the scene. "Secret Ceremony" features expert performances from all, but it is Elizabeth Taylor who walks away with the honors, delivering a truly moving portrayal of an emotionally broken woman searching for some stability in her life. It's one of her most daring roles, and Miss Taylor handles it like the consummate actress that she is. The screenplay is by George Tabori, based on the prize-winning short story by Marco Denevi. (Universal later cut footage from the film and added extra scenes to make the picture acceptable for a television audience. Luckily, the video version is the original, uncut theatrical release).


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