6.4/10
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37 user 23 critic

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

Robert Douglas and Michael Strong were not in this film, appearing only in scenes added to it for American TV showings. These scenes were shot in Hollywood by a different director and crew several months after the film's cinema release. Joseph Losey neither authorized nor approved of these changes, which he described as "absolutely illegal". This severely amended version was, fortunately, withdrawn from circulation eventually. See more »

Quotes

Leonora: [singing] Hush little baby, cry no more. Father's gone fishing, mother's a whore. Back in the morning, to guard your life, with two short prayers, and a carving knife.
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

 
Very cryptic film.
7 August 2002 | by gridoonSee all my reviews

The idea (already described in other reviews) is both improbable and audacious, and the film is initially intriguing, but ultimately goes nowhere. There is a difference between not pandering to your audience and completely shutting it out, which is what director Losey has done here (especially regarding Mia Farrow's character and what she is all about). However, Robert Mitchum has a very challenging role - he plays a totally reprehensible character - and pulls it off beautifully. By the way, the previous reviewer is right on the money about the editing goof in the slapping scene; unacceptable for a director with such a big name. (**1/2)


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