6.4/10
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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:

Joseph Losey

Writers:

Marco Denevi (short story "Ceremonia secreta"), George Tabori (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Elizabeth Taylor ... Leonora
Mia Farrow ... Cenci
Robert Mitchum ... Albert
Peggy Ashcroft ... Hannah
Pamela Brown 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 | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

BECAUSE OF THE UNUSUAL ENDING No one will be admitted during the last 12 minutes. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 October 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ceremonia secreta See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

French certificate: -13. See more »

Quotes

Leonora: Get off my back, you little bitch!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Network TV version is eight minutes shorter than the theatrical release, removing some scenes and featuring alternative footage for others. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Gothic Triangle
16 April 2017 | by duffjerroldorgSee all my reviews

What an unexpected, odd, treat. Films that travel undetected, spotted by accident - as it was in my case. I was reading about this startling Argentinean writer, Marco Denevi, when I discovered that one of his short stories had been adapted for the screen, directed by Joseph Losey of "The Servant" fame and with a cast to die for. Elizabeth Taylor as a prostitute that takes advantage of a peculiar girl, played with real zest by Mia Farrow who mistakes her for her mother, and Robert Mitchum, as the disruptor. This classy if bizarre production also includes Pamela Brown and Peggy Ashcroft in the cast. I enjoyed the weirdness thoroughly. It unsettled me and made me wonder how this film had been received in 1968. Apparently not very well. The one thing that made people talk about Secret Ceremony at the time was an infamous still with Elizabeth Taylor and Mia Farrow in a bathtub together. For lovers of the odd and unique this is a real treat.


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