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The Third Secret

Original poster
Directed by Charles Crichton
Produced by Robert L. Joseph
Hugh Perceval
Written by Robert L. Joseph
Starring Stephen Boyd
Pamela Franklin
Music by Richard Arnell
Cinematography Douglas Slocombe
Editing by Frederick Wilson
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) February 1964
Running time 103 minutes
Country Great Britain
Language English

The Third Secret is a 1964 British drama film directed by Charles Crichton. The screenplay by Robert L. Joseph focuses on an American newscaster who investigates the mysterious death of his psychoanalyst.



Prominent London psychoanalyst Dr. Leo Whitset is discovered injured from a gunshot wound in his home by his housekeeper, and as he lies dying he whispers, "Blame no one but me." These words lead the coroner to rule the death a suicide, a verdict questioned by Alex Stedman, a popular American news commentator for British television who has been in therapy since the deaths of his wife and daughter. The dead man's fourteen-year-old daughter Catherine is certain he was murdered and enlists Alex's aid in finding the killer in order to preserve her father's reputation.

Catherine provides Alex with the names of three other patients. Sir Frederick Belline is a respected judge, Alfred Price-Gorham runs a prestigious art gallery with his assistant Miss Humphries, and Anne Tanner is a corporate secretary. As Alex investigates their backgrounds, he discovers each of the three, like himself, harbors a secret known only by the murdered man. Hoping to find more clues, Alex goes to the doctor's country home to search his files. There he learns Catherine was under her father's care, and when he confronts her she admits she killed the doctor when he threatened to send her to an institution to be treated for schizophrenia. While re-enacting the crime, Catherine stabs Alex and consequently is confined to a psychiatric hospital. Recovered from his wound, Alex visits her and promises to stay in touch.



Patricia Neal was cast as one of the doctor's patients, but all her scenes were cut from the film before it was released.[1]

Critical reception

Howard Thompson of The New York Times said the film "is recommended only to practitioners, patients and other moviegoers with a wry sense of humor. For in probing Freudian motivations and behavior to solve a crime, the picture obliquely strings out like a strand of loose spaghetti." He added, "[It] uncoils and meanders so deviously and pretentiously, and the dialogue slips into such metaphorical mishmash that the result is more often exasperating than entertaining — or convincing. The music, telegraphing dire things to come, is an atonal teaser." He concluded, "[It] presses so hard for conversational effect and mood that simple suspense occurs only toward the end. The denouement is a good, logical shocker — unsurprising if you study the smoothest talker of the lot."[2]

Variety called the film "an engrossing, if not altogether convincing, mystery melodrama of the weighty psychological school."[3]

TV Guide rated the film 2½ out of four stars and commented, "The episodic, talky drama has some moments that overcome the script's deficiencies, but the film tends to be pretentious and deliberately obtuse. The performances are only adequate. Franklin is particularly good, however, as the troubled young girl."[4]

Home media

The film was released on DVD in Region 1 on May 22, 2007. It is in anamorphic widescreen format with audio tracks and subtitles in English and Spanish. Bonus features include the original trailer, a stills gallery, and a second gallery featuring the film's original press book.


External links



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