The Promise (1979)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  6 December 1979 (Finland)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 528 users  
Reviews: 29 user | 2 critic

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 »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nancy McAllister / Marie Adamson
Michael Hillyard
Marion Hillyard
Laurence Luckinbill ...
Dr. Peter Gregson
George Calloway
Michael O'Hare ...
Ben Avery
Dr. Faye Allison
Doctor Wickfield
Katherine De Hetre ...
Wendy Lester
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.




PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 December 1979 (Finland)  »

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?


This was the last movie to play a regular engagement at Radio City Music Hall in New York City,New York. 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

Promise not to laugh........
2 May 2002 | by (Cincinnati, OH) – See all my reviews

***Spoilers Rampant***

This stupefyingly bad romantic drama deserves a place in the annals of movies that are so bad they become good for all the wrong reasons. In the beginning, Collins and Quinlan go through all the 1970's gum-commercial moments to show us that they are "in love", culminating in their burial of a carnival necklace to signify their love and spouting some of the most ludicrous dialogue ever written. This is played with utter sincerity although Quinlan is decked out in all sorts of face-altering make-up so that she'll look different (and hopefully better) in the last 2/3rds of the film. Smeared with tan pancake make-up, wearing a wig that Marlo Thomas vetoed on "That Girl", donned with eye and nose prosthetics that give her a homely appearance and speaking in a whiny, annoying voice, she is anything but what one would imagine as a dream lover. But that's not all! They also outfitted her with false buck teeth which leave her unable to fully close her lips, so many of her words come out jangled and unintelligible. For example, when confronted by Collins with the prospect of marriage, she replies, "I don't need a feece of fafer..." So she can barely open her eyes and can't close her mouth when she and Collins and his best friend (a total buffoon who rinses toothpaste out of his mouth with BEER!!) are smashed up in a horrific car collision with a truck. From this point on, not one logical thing happens and the story takes on such an orchestra of contrivances that it becomes science fiction. Collins' gorgon of a mother (who viewers know is evil because she smokes cigarettes constantly through a plastic holder) pays to have Quinlan's face put back on, but only if she'll stay away from Collins. The mother (played by Straight) doesn't want a love affair with :::gasp::: an orphan to mess with her plans for Collins' career. So she tells Collins that Quinlan is dead. He apparently takes her word for it without ever once looking into it or even trying to see if there's a grave! A complete set of wild contrivances finally reunite the long lost couple.......and he doesn't even recognize her! You see, she is now the "normal" Quinlan replete with trendy new duds and full on glamour make-up, so he has no clue it's the chipmunk who was in the car crash with him. (And she is quite lovely. She is showcased in a wide variety of hairstyles and outfits.) It all keeps spiralling until they wind up back at the carnival almost precisely the same time.....and have a "poignant" reunion. Astonishingly, this film, crazy and as bad as it is, still can manage to draw tears during that final scene from those who have gone along for the (insane!) ride! Collins gives a very heartfelt performance in it (however, Quinlan remains strangely stoic, which hurts the final clinch.) This movie is clearly inspired by such classic tear-jerkers as "Madame X" and "An Affair to Remember" and cribs from both of them. However, by 1979, that type of storytelling had lost all sense of even more so! It should have been a period piece. Amazingly, the director Cates had previously given audiences the stark and grim "I Never Sang For My Father" before offering up this hoot. Fans of soapy dramas who don't require much reality will love it. Fans of campy, unintentional humor will also eat it up. The only person who will likely hate it is any straight man. He will probably be off the couch and out the door before Melissa Manchester finishes howling the title song!

8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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