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A mousy woman discovers she has two other personalities.
Twenty-five-year-old Elizabeth Richmond is a mousy office worker at the Los Angeles County Museum who suffers from severe headaches and insomnia. Elizabeth's distress is compounded by the malicious and threatening notes signed "Lizzie" she has been receiving, but co-worker Ruth Seaton assures her the notes are merely pranks. Despite Ruth's attempts to befriend her co-worker, Elizabeth avoids socializing. One evening, when Elizabeth asks her spinster aunt Morgan, with whom she lives, about the notes and begins to question her own sanity, Morgan is too consumed with gambling and bourbon to take the girl's problems seriously. As Elizabeth turns her back while Morgan drunkenly rambles on, she suddenly calls Morgan a "drunken old slut." Morgan confronts Elizabeth, who, now quiet, feigns ignorance of her insult and runs to her room. Once at her dressing room mirror, Elizabeth's personality changes into that of a coquett and she applies heavy makeup and piles her hair on top of her head. Late that evening, she goes to Rick's Tavern, a nightclub where she brazenly flirts with men until museum janitor and playboy Johnny Valenzo recognizes her from work. Elizabeth introduces herself as "Lizzie" and insists on calling him "Robin." Johnny finds the new Elizabeth so irresistible that he agrees to play along with her. The next morning Elizabeth complains of having a headache, but has no recollection of the previous evening. Morgan reports her suspicions about Elizabeth's late night escapades to her neighbor, Walter Brenner, who suggests to Elizabeth that she see his psychiatrist, Dr. Neal Wright, about her "insomnia." Elizabeth at first refuses, but when Johnny calls her "Lizzie" at work and she finds another note, she decides to seek Wright's help. At the appointment, the kindly doctor asks her questions while she is under hypnosis. At first Elizabeth replies with her own name and circumstances, but when Wright presses her, the girl suddenly becomes a mean-spirited woman who calls herself "Lizzie" and says she wants to destroy Elizabeth and move away with Robin. After four more weeks' treatment, Wright decides to put Elizabeth into a deep hypnotic trance to reach further into her subconscious. The resulting personality, "Beth," has empathy for Elizabeth's sickness and confesses that she stopped talking when she was a little girl. Days later, Wright meets with Morgan and Walter, who have become closer through their shared interest in Elizabeth. Walter tells Wright that Elizabeth was distraught and broke off plans with co-workers on her last birthday. Wright explains Elizabeth has multiple personalities due to a mental block because of some past harmful incident. Wright then reveals his plans to develop the normal, lovely Beth so she can dominate the others. During another appointment, Beth, while under hypnosis, recounts a trip to the beach with her mother and her mother's boy friend Robin, during which the couple chastises the innocent girl for interrupting their romantic afternoon. Beth says the incident made her feel unwanted, prompting Wright to tell her that he cares for her. When the doctor persists with questions about Robin, Beth becomes too distraught to continue the session. One evening when Morgan leaves Elizabeth at home, Lizzie emerges and invites "Robin" to a night of drinking and sex at the house. When Morgan returns home later, she is shocked by Lizzie's slattern appearance and calls Wright for help. The doctor arrives at the house and slaps Lizzie, causing Elizabeth to return. Wright then has Elizabeth look in the mirror at "Lizzie." The following morning, Elizabeth's birthday, Morgan is so frustrated by the girl's unpredictable nature that she congratulates each of her three personalities on their birthday, thus provoking Elizabeth to become Lizzie. The young woman throws a glass at Morgan and runs from the house. Wright arrives soon after to speak with Morgan and Walter about the girl. He begs Morgan to have compassion for Elizabeth, but Morgan is tired of taking care of her niece and reveals that she resents her sister, Elizabeth's mother, an unprincipled woman who left the child in her care when she died. Morgan then recounts Elizabeth's thirteenth birthday when her mother returned home with Robin too late to celebrate the occasion. She had forgotten her daughter's birthday and was too drunk to console the little girl. Elizabeth was so hurt by her mother's neglect that she shook her. Weak-hearted from years of drinking, Elizabeth's mother fainted and died later that evening. Wright suspects that Elizabeth feels she is responsible for her mother's death and devises a plan to return to that fateful night. Later that day, Elizabeth receives a note from Lizzie suggesting that she kill herself. Elizabeth climbs the stairs to the roof and is about to jump, when Ruth sees the roof door open and finds Elizabeth. Not suspecting that Elizabeth is contemplating suicide, Ruth s reports that Wright is waiting for her in the lobby. Wright then drives Elizabeth to her house, explaining that Morgan has invited them to dinner. When Elizabeth opens the door, she finds a birthday cake lit with candles. Elizabeth breaks down and voices her fear that she caused her mother's death. Morgan tells Elizabeth about her mother's weak heart, but Elizabeth is oblivious to her surroundings and continues to remember the evening. After her mother was carried upstairs, Robin cornered Elizabeth on the stairs, forcing her into her bedroom where he raped her. Reliving the brutality of the event sends Elizabeth running to her room, where she hallucinates about being trapped in the museum searching for her mother among the statues and displays. When she looks in the mirror, Elizabeth sees Beth and Lizzie battling for control over her. As the voices escalate, Elizabeth screams and smashes the mirror. Wright rushes up the stairs, where he finds that Beth has won the battle. He explains to Morgan and Walter that the shattered mirror symbolizes Beth's dominance over the other personalities. Now confident that her niece is well on her way to recovery, Morgan apologizes to Beth for not being more understanding. After Wright encourages Beth to start a new life, she graciously thanks him.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1957||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.|
|Sound:||Perspecta Stereo (Westrex Recording System)||Production Co:||Bryna Productions, Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.|
Leonard Maltin Ratings & Review
LEONARD MALTIN MOVIE RATING
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User Ratings & Review
Disagree with Leonard M
I almost skipped this movie based on Leonard M's review..but I like Shirley Jackson and read The Birds Nest, Life among the Savages and of course, The...
I enjoyed this movie very much. It kept me in suspense the entire time. Eleanor Parker did a magnificent job playing her role! Richard Boone and Joan...
kevin sellers 2017-01-03
Nothing wrong with this movie that casting Joanne Woodward wouldn't cure.