7.7/10
5,416
70 user 28 critic

Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)

A medium and her husband stage a kidnapping in order for her to pretend to solve the crime and achieve fame.

Director:

Bryan Forbes

Writers:

Mark McShane (novel), Bryan Forbes (written for the screen by)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kim Stanley ... Myra Savage
Margaret Lacey Margaret Lacey ... Woman at First Seance
Marie Burke ... Woman at First Seance
Maria Kazan Maria Kazan ... Woman at First Seance
Lionel Gamlin Lionel Gamlin ... Man at Seances
Marian Spencer Marian Spencer ... Mrs. Wintry
Richard Attenborough ... William Henry 'Bill' Savage
Godfrey James Godfrey James ... Mrs. Clayton's Chauffeur
Judith Donner Judith Donner ... Amanda Clayton - The Child
Ronald Hines ... Policeman Outside Clayton's
Hajni Biro Hajni Biro ... Carla - Maid at Clayton's
Mark Eden ... Mr. Charles Clayton
Nanette Newman ... Mrs. Clayton
Diana Lambert Diana Lambert ... Sheila - Mr. Clayton's Secretary
Frank Singuineau Frank Singuineau ... Bus Conductor
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Storyline

Myra and Billy Savage are a married couple living in London. Myra works as a medium, who holds weekly meetings, séances, for a regular group of customers, while Billy supports her in these ventures, as he does not otherwise work, due to his asthma. "Arthur" is her spirit guide, who was their stillborn son. Myra is the dominant in the couple, Billy, the weak-minded follower. Myra, with Billy's support, devises a scheme to raise her public prominence as a medium: kidnap Amanda Clayton, the young daughter of a wealthy couple, and using her psychic powers provide information to the Claytons and the police of Amanda and the requested ransom money's whereabouts. Myra and Billy view this scheme as a victimless crime, if a crime at all, as they don't plan on harming Amanda, and they are returning the requested ransom. To carry out the scheme successfully, they will have to: kidnap Amanda; convince Amanda that her temporary captivity is not out of the ordinary, while having her not be able to ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Two of the greatest performers you will ever see... See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 November 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Al filo del abismo See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP143,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In one of the scenes, Sir Richard Attenborough passes a street ad promoting stage musical "Oh, What a Lovely War!". Five years later, Attenborough directed a movie adaptation of the musical. See more »

Goofs

From 17:32 to 18:00, positions of Myra's hands alternate 5 times with changes in the point of view. See more »

Quotes

Myra Savage: What we are doing is a means to an end. Now you agree with the end, don't you? Well then you must agree with the means! You can't have one without the other.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in High Hopes: Séance on a Wet Afternoon (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Hear my Prayer
Written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Played by George Thalben-Ball (as Sir George Thalben-Ball) (organ)
Sung by Ernest Lough
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Baffling Oscar Oversight
10 December 2004 | by dglinkSee all my reviews

Over the years, the Oscars have often gone to performers and films that seemed to make little sense at the time and subsequently failed to stand the test of time. While Julie Andrews was certainly marked for stardom, her singing nanny did not hold a candle to Kim Stanley's tour-de-force as Myra in "Seance on a Wet Afternoon," either in 1964 or in 2004. One wonders in retrospect if any of the voters actually saw this brilliant, minor masterwork. If they had, how did Richard Attenborough's performance get overlooked? His subtle underplaying as the passive husband is in perfect sync to Stanley's showy turn as the medium and deserved Academy recognition as much as and perhaps more than his direction of "Gandhi." The taut screenplay and direction by Bryan Forbes, the fine black and white cinematography by Gerry Turpin, and John Barry's music also deserved recognition. Unfortunately, Hollywood was into big musicals in 1964, and the Academy's nominations were showered on "My Fair Lady" and "Mary Poppins," while more serious fare such as this film was overlooked. While "Lady" clunks along today as a leaden stage-bound adaptation and "Poppins" does not seem quite as charming as it did, "Seance on a Wet Afternoon" and the two brilliant performances at its center remain as riveting as they were 40 years ago. Fortunately, the Academy has shown some maturity in recent years, and films such as this are more often recognized, which raises their profiles and brings them to the attention of viewers who might otherwise miss them. Without any recognition other than recommendations from those few who have seen this character-driven suspense gem, "Seance" has been little seen and remains a cinematic jewel that awaits discovery and its deserved place among British film classics.


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