'Secret Ceremony' was Joseph Losey's follow up to the preposterous 'Boom' and once again stars Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor plays Leonora, a middle-aged prostitute who finds herself playing the role of mother substitute to a disturbed young girl, Cenci, played by Mia Farrow.
Leonora is still grieving for her drowned daughter so, for a while at least, the arrangement works out well, especially as money is no object and they are cooped up together in the most incredible art nouveau mansion in Kensington. If the relationship wasn't complicated and fragile enough,however, Cenci's feckless and predatory step-father (Robert Mitchum) turns up and starts picking the pair apart with, as they say, tragic consequences...
|People in Art Deco houses...|
|It's - all - too - much.|
|& they say milk is good for you...|
|The End (ish).|
A very odd little production, 'Secret Ceremony' is nowhere near as pretentious or camp as 'Boom', but it is just as baffling. Losey specialised in psychodramas in nice surroundings, and always provided roles where his actors could emote, and emote they surely do. Taylor plays her usual fabulous fishwife role, Farrow is darkly offbeat, and Mitchum, in a chin strap beard and tweed hat, seems to be revisiting his role as Reverend Harry Powell in 'Night Of The Hunter', just posher and better educated. It's not a particularly good film, or even particularly good drama, but it's absolutely of its time, and a great example of Losey's slightly florid style.