It's difficult to know why Mitchum, slouching through a few scenes in the ill-fitting disguise of an ageing, bearded academic with little girls on his mind, should have accepted this part. Taylor, however, is very fine as a tacky madonna: a devout prostitute who's offered a respite from the streets when a regressive child-woman called Cenci (Farrow in long wig and Pollyanna tights) adopts her as substitute mother and moves her into a mansion of art-déco splendour. No wonder then that Taylor/Laura should fervently pray 'Oh Lord, let no one snatch me from this heaven'; and as the strange 'secret ceremonies' begin, her treatment of Cenci displays the same mix of greed and generosity. Losey's mannered direction, somehow entirely appropriate, makes for a memorable film.
Cast and crew