PlotWith her marriage to womaniser Carlo Landi (Brazzi) in ashes, wealthy and childless Margaret Landi (Crawford) finds an emotional outlet in patronising a 15-year-old deaf, dumb, and blind Irish girl named Esther Costello (Sears). Esther's disabilities are the result of a childhood trauma and are psychosomatic rather than physical. As Costello makes progress with Braille and sign language, she is seen as an example of triumph over adversity. Carlo gets wind of Margaret's new life and re-enters the scene. He views Esther as a source of cheap financial gain and arranges a series of exploitative tours for her under a mercenary manager (Ron Randell). One day when Margaret is absent from the Landi apartment, Carlo seduces and rapes the now 16-year-old Esther. The shock restores the girl's sight and hearing. When Margaret learns of her husband's business duplicities and the rape, she consigns Esther to the care of a priest and a young reporter who loves her (Lee Patterson), then kills Carlo and herself.
CastThe cast further includes Denis O'Dea as Father Devlin, Fay Compton as Mother Superior, John Loder as Paul Marchant, and Bessie Love as Matron in Art Gallery.
Production notesThe film is based on a book by Nicholas Monsarrat that nearly had Helen Keller's co-workers suing for libel due to perceived parallels between Helen's story and Esther's. In particular, the book seemed to slur the character of Anne Sullivan's husband, writer-publicist John Macy, who was close to Keller's age. A relationship between John and Keller has long been a subject of speculation. Esther's reporter friend was reminiscent of Keller's highly-publicised attempt to elope with reporter-secretary Peter Fagan.
ReceptionThe New York Times noted, "Miss Crawford, Mr. Brazzi, and Mr. Patterson and all the minor players are professional throughout." William K. Zinsser in the New York Herald Tribune wrote, "It wouldn't be a Joan Crawford picture without plenty of anguish...And her fans will have their usual good time...this plot enables Miss Crawford to run a full-course dinner of dramatic moods, from loneliness to mother love, from pride in the girl to passion with her husband, and finally to smouldering rage...Somehow she pulls it off. This may not be your kind of movie but it is many women's kind of movie and our Joan is queen of the art form."
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