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Johnny Belinda (1948)

Unrated | | Drama | 14 September 1948 (USA)
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In post-war Cape Breton, a doctor's efforts to tutor a deaf/mute woman are undermined when she is raped, and the resulting pregnancy causes scandal to swirl.

Director:

Jean Negulesco

Writers:

Irma von Cube (screenplay) (as Irmgard VonCube), Allen Vincent (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jane Wyman ... Belinda McDonald
Lew Ayres ... Dr. Robert Richardson
Charles Bickford ... Black MacDonald
Agnes Moorehead ... Aggie MacDonald
Stephen McNally ... Locky McCormick
Jan Sterling ... Stella McCormick
Rosalind Ivan ... Mrs. Poggety
Dan Seymour ... Pacquet - Storekeeper
Mabel Paige ... Mrs. Lutz
Ida Moore ... Mrs. McKee
Alan Napier ... Defense Attorney
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Storyline

Dr. Robert Richardson, a dedicated young general practitioner, seeks to establish himself in an isolated fishing village on Cape Breton Island off the Nova Scotia coast. The population is poor and the struggling physician generally gets paid for his efforts in barter. When he meets Belinda McDonald, a young deaf mute callously dismissed by family and neighbors as "the dummy," he alone senses her innate intelligence. He overcomes the initial skepticism of her flinty, gruff father and indifferently cold aunt, who operate a hardscrabble grist mill and farm, and devotes himself to teaching the young girl sign language and lip-reading. Hopes are even raised that she might even eventually qualify for a medical procedure that might improve her condition. Her optimism is crushed, however, when she raped by Locky McCormick, a brutish local fisherman. Traumatized, she is unable to communicate the outrage to her family, who are baffled and angry when they learn she is pregnant. The local gossips... Written by duke1029

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

She was alone with terror - and torment! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

14 September 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Belinda See more »

Filming Locations:

Fort Bragg, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original Broadway production of "Johnny Belinda" by Elmer Harris opened at the Belasco Theater & ran for 321 performances. See more »

Goofs

When Belinda fires one barrel of what looks like a 12 gauge, double-barreled, shotgun at Locky McCormick, there is no recoil of any kind, not even a slight twitch. That seems very unlikely given the size of the gun. See more »

Quotes

Aggie McDonald: It's hard to be born and it's hard to die.
See more »

Connections

Version of Johnny Belinda (1969) See more »

Soundtracks

The Maple Leaf Forever
(uncredited)
Music by Alexander Muir
Played during opening narration
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Silence Yields Oscar Gold
28 January 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The movies had been talking for 20 years when Johnny Belinda came out in 1948. Those first Oscars were awarded for silent films and it took 20 years for another Oscar to be awarded for a performance without a single word of dialog.

Jane Wyman, who for the first ten years or so of her film career, played a lot of second leads, proves she could have competed with Mary Pickford or Gloria Swanson in the silent era, got an Oscar for her career role as Belinda McDonald. Belinda is a deaf mute who gets raped and impregnated by the town lout and because of what she is, she can neither name her attacker or speak out against the small minds that inhabit the town she lives in.

The story takes place in one of the Canadian isles off Nova Scotia and it begins with the arrival of a new doctor, Lew Ayres in town. One night he gets a call for a veterinary problem from farmers Charles Bickford and his sister Agnes Moorehead. While there he meets Bickford's mute daughter, Jane Wyman.

It's a rough life on that farm which doesn't yield much for creature comforts. Rough of course for Wyman, but also rough for Bickford who brought his sister in to help raise the child after his wife died in childbirth with Wyman. They're hard people, but they have a tender side also which is brought out as the film develops.

Johnny Belinda brought home a flock of Oscar nominations, for Ayres as Best Actor, for Bickford as Best Supporting Actor, for Agnes Moorehead as Best Supporting Actress, for the film itself, for Director Jean Negulesco. But only Wyman got the prize on Oscar night.

The closest performance I can think of to Wyman's in more modern times is that of Hilary Swank as trans-gender Brandon Teena. Swank hasn't the education to articulate her feelings either just as Wyman doesn't until Ayres teaches her to sign, still an audience made of statues will understand and be moved.

In addition to those already mentioned, look for fine performances from Stephen McNally as the lout and Jan Sterling as his wife.

But most of all look to be terribly moved by Jane Wyman.


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