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


I anoint you with this saving oil

in Christ Jesus Our Lord,

that you may have eternal life.


Do you believe in God, the Father

Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

I do believe.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ,

His only Son, Our Lord,

who was born and suffered for us?

I do believe.

Do you believe in the Holy Ghost,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of Saints,

the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection

of the body and life everlasting?

I do believe.

Are you willing to be baptised?

I am.

Joseph, I baptise you

in the name of the Father,

and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.


May Almighty God,

the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

who has given you new life

through water and the Holy Ghost,

and forgiven you all your sins,

Himself anoint you with saving chrism

in the same Jesus Christ Our Lord,

- that you may have eternal life.

- Amen.

- Peace be with you.

- And with you.

Take this white garment,

and see that you carry it without stain

before the judgment seat

of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

that you may have eternal life.

Take this burning light

and keep true to your baptism

throughout a blameless life.

Keep the commandments of God,

that when the Lord shall come

like a bridegroom to His marriage feast...

.. you, in company with all the Saints,

may meet Him in the heavenly courts

and there live forever.



Go in peace, Joseph,

and the Lord be with you.


You... you... Wait here.


Mummy! Mummy!

I'm not who you think I am, kid.

Now, there's a good girl. Let go.

Will you let me go?!

What the hell do you want from me?

Can't you say something?

The cat got your tongue?

Would you like some breakfast?



Oh, that was delicious!

Thank you. I've never had a more...

.. scrumptious breakfast.


You didn't prepare that all by yourself,

did you?

Nobody helped you?

Don't you remember?

- Don't I remember what?

- You let Nanny and the cook go.

- Oh, I did?

- Fired them ruthlessly.

Are you here all alone?

There's nobody else downstairs?


Is anybody coming later on?


Where's Daddy?

You know damn well where he is!

Well, I wouldn't have asked

if I'd known, would I?

The last postcard was from Philadelphia.

- It was?

- You tore it up yourself.

I haven't the faintest recollection.

You said never to mention his name again

in this house.

Well, I can change my mind, can't I?

It's my house.

After his scandalous behaviour

in the kitchen?

- You mind your manners.

- It wasn't me who threw the inkwell.

- Don't be fresh with me.

- It wasn't me who ordered him out.

- Cut that out!

- "I don't want to hear his name again. "

We all have our days.

I may have lost my temper.

- Albert, Albert, Albert...

- I don't want to hear that name again!

Are you still jealous?

Young lady, you go to your room at once.

He touched me.

Oh, excuse me. Won't you?


Oh, you poor little doll.

I don't know what came over me.

It was like having my ears blown out.


Would you like me to move in with you

for a while, to take care of you?

What do you mean?

You've always taken care of me.

You've got fever.

Every time you went out,

shopping or to the doctor's,

you said, "I'll be back. I'll be back,"

and you always came back,

except the last time when the pain was bad

and the wind knocked down the cherry tree.

I'm back now.

I don't usually take a nap during the day,

but I might now.

Oh, I just might.

You're sweet.

Where did you get these awful stockings?

Would you like me to wash your back?

No, thank you. I can reach it myself.

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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, 2022. Web. 9 Dec. 2022. <>.

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