Secret Ceremony

Synopsis: 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.
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Director(s): Joseph Losey
Production: Universal Pictures
  Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
109 min

What are you doing, a big girl like you?

On Sundays, Mummy,

you always let me wash your back.

- Is it Sunday?

- Oh, you're a silly Mummy.

I'd better get out before I fall asleep.

And drown?

What do you know about drowning?

- Ducks don't drown. Look.

- No! No, let it be!


I'm so glad you're back.

Can I crawl into bed with you?

Please, Mummy, can I?

It's so nice, isn't it?

You used to say, remember,

"All one needs is a great big bed

with all the people one loves in it. "

When you're older, you'll appreciate

the advantages of sleeping alone.

I'm scared when I sleep alone.

There's nothing to be scared of.

- What about the moon dog?

- The what?

The moon dog.

He sits up there watching me.

Oh, that's just a nice old man

who forgot to shave.

Nobody's just a nice old man.

Sometimes he shows his teeth

and goes, "Grrr!"

Well, you just say, "Down, boy. Down. "

Down, boy! Down!

- He's gone.

- See?

He'll be back.

Not if you say your prayers.

Prayers? In the afternoon?

That's when the good Lord

has time to listen.

Why? What does he do at night-time?

He worries.

I don't know any prayers.

Dear God, by whose mercy...

Dear God, by whose mercy...

.. I am shielded for a few hours...

.. I am shielded for a few hours...

.. let no one snatch me from this heaven.

.. let no one snatch me from this heaven.

Since you're so clever,

why can't you understand that my

virginity is the only thing I possess?

Ha-ha. I know it's funny.


Mother is asleep.

But I warn you,

I will do absolutely nothing

to hurt her feelings.

Will you stay in that chair? Do you hear?

Eat this.

Mother is Mother.

Now, that's something to be.

You're a teacher.

You can put that in your passport.

What have I got?




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Marco Denevi

Marco Denevi (May 12, 1922 – December 12, 1998) was an Argentine author of novels and short stories, as well as a lawyer and journalist. His work is characterized by its originality and depth, as well as a criticism of human incompetence. His first work, a mystery novel titled Rosaura a las diez (1955), was a Kraft award winner and a bestseller. In 1964, it was translated into English as Rosa at Ten O'Clock. Other famous works of his include Los expedientes (1957), Ceremonia Secreta (1960), El cuarto de la noche (1962), and Falsificaciones (1966). Ceremonia Secreta was filmed as Secret Ceremony in 1968 starring Elizabeth Taylor, Mia Farrow, Robert Mitchum, and Peggy Ashcroft. It was directed by Joseph Losey, with a screenplay written by George Tabori. In his edition of this and other Denevi works (Macmillan, 1965), Donald A. Yates mentions Denevi's admiration for Wilkie Collins, whose work this novella resembles. He is less known as an essayist, but he also cultivated that genre with his República de Trapalanda (1989), a late work, where he took on Ezequiel Martínez Estrada and Domingo Faustino Sarmiento's view of the Argentine republic. He was born in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and at a young age he began playing the piano and reading. He graduated from college in 1939, and did not receive his law degree until 1956. In 1987 he was inducted into the Argentine Academy of Letters. It is important to note Denevi's desire to be a playwright. He wrote many dramatic pieces but felt he was not talented enough to write for the theater in Spain. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Secret Ceremony" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 28 Nov. 2020. <>.

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