The Ceremony


1h 45m 1963
The Ceremony

Brief Synopsis

A convicted bank robber bargains with his wife's life to escape prison.

Film Details

Also Known As
La ceremonia
Genre
Drama
Crime
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1963
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 25 Dec 1963
Production Company
Laurence Harvey Productions; Magla
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Location
Spain
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel La cérémonie by Frédéric Grendel (Paris, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

After a bank holdup in Tangiers, in the course of which a guard is killed, Irishman Sean McKenna, the leader of the gang responsible for the crime, is arrested for the murder. Though he is innocent, the sadistic French public prosecutor, LeCoq, is determined that an example be made, and Sean is sentenced to death by the firing squad. Catherine, his girl friend, persuades his brother, Dominic, to help arrange an escape by promising to run away with him once Sean is freed; and they are aided in the plan by Sean's friend Nicky. Aided by a bribed jailer, Dominic disguises himself as a priest and is permitted to enter the death cell. After changing clothes with his brother, Dominic blows up the prison power house and then escapes by rope ladder. Garbed in the priest's clothing, Sean walks out of the prison gates during the confusion. Reunited with Catherine and Dominic, Sean learns of their affair, and a violent fight ensues. With the arrival of the police, the three escape. As Dominic leads police away from his brother, his car crashes and bursts into flame. His face burned beyond recognition, Dominic is mistaken for Sean and brought back to the prison. The priest, Father O'Brien, hears Dominic's confession but is unable to give absolution because Dominic refuses to reveal his true identity. Sean learns of the situation and rushes to the prison, but Dominic has already been executed, even though most of the firing squad refused to fire their guns. Sean carries his dead brother's body into the prison.

Film Details

Also Known As
La ceremonia
Genre
Drama
Crime
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1963
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 25 Dec 1963
Production Company
Laurence Harvey Productions; Magla
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Location
Spain
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel La cérémonie by Frédéric Grendel (Paris, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Articles

The Ceremony -


In the climax of Laurence Harvey's The Ceremony, a man disfigured in a fiery car crash is carried inside a Tangier prison and propped up before a firing squad -one of many strange and disturbing moments that comprise this adaptation of the 1951 political allegory by Frédéric Grendel. The first of only two features directed by the star of Room at the Top (1959) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962)--not counting Harvey's efforts to complete A Dandy in Aspic (1968) after the death of Anthony Mann-The Ceremony is a glimpse into the hearts and minds of men charged with maintaining order in a state of chaos-in this case, an international zone that has become a magnet for lawlessness. Recalling House of Numbers (1957), in which Jack Palance played twin brothers on opposite sides of prison walls, The Ceremony is structured around a prison break spurred on by a romantic triangle of condemned man Harvey, kid brother Robert Walker, Jr. and lover Sarah Miles, and complicated further through the intervention of Ross Martin (as a seething public prosecutor who seems to get a sexual kick from capital punishment), The French Connection's Fernando Rey, John Ireland and Jack MacGowran. Shooting conditions in Morocco were bitterly cold and leading lady Sarah Miles was stricken not only with influenza but a touch of frostbite. In the end, The Ceremony failed at the box office, though several critics lauded the courage of Harvey's artistic convictions.

By Richard Harland Smith
The Ceremony -

The Ceremony -

In the climax of Laurence Harvey's The Ceremony, a man disfigured in a fiery car crash is carried inside a Tangier prison and propped up before a firing squad -one of many strange and disturbing moments that comprise this adaptation of the 1951 political allegory by Frédéric Grendel. The first of only two features directed by the star of Room at the Top (1959) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962)--not counting Harvey's efforts to complete A Dandy in Aspic (1968) after the death of Anthony Mann-The Ceremony is a glimpse into the hearts and minds of men charged with maintaining order in a state of chaos-in this case, an international zone that has become a magnet for lawlessness. Recalling House of Numbers (1957), in which Jack Palance played twin brothers on opposite sides of prison walls, The Ceremony is structured around a prison break spurred on by a romantic triangle of condemned man Harvey, kid brother Robert Walker, Jr. and lover Sarah Miles, and complicated further through the intervention of Ross Martin (as a seething public prosecutor who seems to get a sexual kick from capital punishment), The French Connection's Fernando Rey, John Ireland and Jack MacGowran. Shooting conditions in Morocco were bitterly cold and leading lady Sarah Miles was stricken not only with influenza but a touch of frostbite. In the end, The Ceremony failed at the box office, though several critics lauded the courage of Harvey's artistic convictions. By Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Filmed in Spain. Spanish title: La ceremonia. Sources conflict in crediting photographer.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter December 25, 1963

Feature directorial debut for popular British leading man Laurence Harvey.

Released in United States Winter December 25, 1963