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The Promise (1979)

A rich student's fiancee has her face destroyed by a car accident, and refuses to return to him fearing the loss of his love.



(based on a story by), (based on a story by) (as Paul Heller) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Nancy McAllister / Marie Adamson
Marion Hillyard
Dr. Peter Gregson
George Calloway
Dr. Faye Allison
Doctor Wickfield
Katherine De Hetre ...
Wendy Lester
Paul Ryan ...
Doctor Fenton
Tom O'Neill ...
Kirchy Prescott ...
John Allen Vick ...
First Cab Driver
Dan Leegant ...
Second Cab Driver
Jerry Walter ...


Two college students, one from a rich background, and the other from a poor one, decide to elope. They are involved in a serious car wreck, with the young girl's face severely injured. In order to get the necessary surgery, the mother of the young man injured in the accident offers a deal to the young woman - to stay out of her son's life permanently, and in return, get the plastic surgery to restore her face. What comes after that is something none of them expected. Written by Marinelle K. Szenasy

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A haunting story of love and betrayal. See more »


Drama | Romance


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 August 1979 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Face of a Stranger  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film's screenplay was later novelized by Danielle Steel. It was a huge success, effectively cementing her career as a romance novelist. See more »


Pattern of blood on Michael's lip changes repeatedly during his fist fight with Gregson. See more »


Ben: Mike? Happy Birthday, hooligan!
Michael: Yeah, that's right, my day all day.
Ben: Hey, you know who else's birthday it is? I read it in the San Francisco Chronicle. Julius Ceasar!
Michael: Julius Caesar! How the hell do they know?
Ben: Because they are fiendishly clever, man!
See more »


Remade as Yeh Vaada Raha (1982) See more »


The Promise (I'll Never Say Goodbye)
Lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Music by David Shire
Sung by Melissa Manchester
See more »

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User Reviews

Oh God, I actually sort of like this movie...
6 January 2003 | by See all my reviews

In 1979, I was 14, and I can remember that this was the big movie that all the kids at school wanted to see. I actually remember loving it then. Years later, all I can do at the age of 37 is cringe with embarrassment that I actually still like this thing.

How unrealistic can you get? With the exception of some make up and hair manipulation, there really is no difference between the Nancy and Marie faces. Most of the change is effected through Quinlin's acting ability (as well suddenly changing her wardrobe to the 70's disco chic that was popular at the time). It's not the only lapse in reality in the film, but it's by far the biggest. It takes a great deal of work on the part of Quinlan, Collins, and Straight to get you to come anywhere near believing the difference exists.

Laurence Luckinbill plays a truly predictable character as the Pygmalionesque doctor who creates the physical Marie. His character is more or less a plot device (as is Bibi Besch's), and his performance reflects it. On the other hand, Beatrice Straight (who was always one of the most underrated actresses in the business) gives a fantastic performance as Michael's mother. Her face says it all when she runs out of the hospital room and the impact of the lie that she has just told hits her.

Gibert Cates, who unfortunately has not been able to truly repeat his critical success in "I Never Sang for my Father", at least tries to do something with the script. It is hard, however, when the story is basically formula and schmaltz. In the end, it is Quinlan, Collins, and Straight who succeed in getting the film to rise above it. Their performances get you to continue to watch and find something good even though you really want to hate it.

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