One dark summer night, Francesca Cunningham, a once world famed pianist, escapes from her hospital room and tries to commit suicide by jumping off a local bridge. She is rescued and taken back to the hospital and undergoes psychological treatment by Dr. Larsen. Larsen, desperately wants to know the events and persons who drove her to this state and help her. He makes Francesca talk about her past - a past with a controlling guardian, Nicholas, no friends, kept apart from the man she loved and forced to practice the piano 5-6 hours a day.Written by
The idea for the film came about when Sydney Box was asked to make a documentary about rehabilitation of shell-shocked soldiers using hypnosis and truth drugs. Muriel Box suddenly thought what a wonderful film could be made about the rehabilitation of a famous dancer or violinist. See more »
When Francesca performs in her first concert, she is wearing a small cross necklace. When she faints at the end of the concert, the necklace has inexplicably disappeared in the close-ups of her on the stage floor. See more »
Dr. Kendall, a surgeon doesn't operate without first taking off the patient's clothes, nor do we with the mind. You know what, uh, Staples says? The human mind is like Salome at the beginning of her dance, hidden from the outside world by seven veils: veils of reserve, shyness, fear. Now with friends, the average person will drop first one veil, then another, maybe three or four altogether. With a lover, she will take off five, or even six, but never the seventh. Never, you see the human mind ...
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This is a great old film, with James Mason at his best as the brooding, aloof, complicated hero/villain. It contains a lot of cliches, not least of which is Hollywood's fervent faith in the almost occult power of hypnosis and psychiatry. But it also is full of great moments - the black and white photography seems to sing along with the glorious music. The scene where James Mason, from offstage, watches Ann Todd all alone at her piano, glowing in bright stage light against a blank background is superb. Sound and picture come together perfectly, and Mason's acting matches beautifully, as he expresses emotion struggling through layers of impassivity. The ending might seem a little dated to present-day audiences, with its implication that the heroine can be fully healed of her psychic wounds only by giving herself to one of her three suitors, but for those who like good old-fashioned happy endings, this is a fine one. Only one thing seemed rather obviously ridiculous: in the scene where the German psychiatrist is talking to the German painter who is in love with Francesca, they both carry on a long conversation in heavily-accented English, which becomes a bit comical once you realize how much more natural it would be for them just to speak German to each other.
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