A Reflection of Fear (1973)

PG | 89-90 or 95 mins | Drama | 1973

Director:

William Fraker

Producer:

Howard B. Jaffe

Cinematographer:

Laszlo Kovacs

Production Designer:

Joel Schiller

Production Company:

Howard P. Jaffe Productions, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

Working titles for the film were Autumn Child and Labyrinth . According to Filmfacts and numerous reviews, A Reflection of Fear was set as a major Columbia production for 1971, assigned to former cinematographer William A. Fraker based on the success of his first project as a director, the 1970 film Monte Walsh (see above). Filmfacts stated that the film endured numerous post-production difficulties, with repeated re-editing, and was subsequently shelved by Columbia for nearly two years. A shortened version, apparently cut to qualify for a PG rating, was released in late 1973. In the film, “Marguerite” has several conversations with the doll “Aaron,” who is heard on the soundtrack with the voice of a young boy. Reviews in 1973 listed the film's running time as 89-90 minutes, but publicity materials list a 95 minute running time.
       The film’s denouement of Marguerite’s real identity is revealed by a voice-over telephone conversation between “Michael” and a nurse at the records department of the hospital in which "Katherine" gave birth. In the print viewed, Marguerite’s boy’s clothes are partially torn from the struggle with Michael, and it is implied that genitalia are visible to Michael. Critics unanimously panned the film’s lack of suspense despite the high caliber of its cast. Stars Robert Shaw and Mary Ure were married in real life at the time and the film marked Ure’s final feature film appearance before her death in ... More Less

Working titles for the film were Autumn Child and Labyrinth . According to Filmfacts and numerous reviews, A Reflection of Fear was set as a major Columbia production for 1971, assigned to former cinematographer William A. Fraker based on the success of his first project as a director, the 1970 film Monte Walsh (see above). Filmfacts stated that the film endured numerous post-production difficulties, with repeated re-editing, and was subsequently shelved by Columbia for nearly two years. A shortened version, apparently cut to qualify for a PG rating, was released in late 1973. In the film, “Marguerite” has several conversations with the doll “Aaron,” who is heard on the soundtrack with the voice of a young boy. Reviews in 1973 listed the film's running time as 89-90 minutes, but publicity materials list a 95 minute running time.
       The film’s denouement of Marguerite’s real identity is revealed by a voice-over telephone conversation between “Michael” and a nurse at the records department of the hospital in which "Katherine" gave birth. In the print viewed, Marguerite’s boy’s clothes are partially torn from the struggle with Michael, and it is implied that genitalia are visible to Michael. Critics unanimously panned the film’s lack of suspense despite the high caliber of its cast. Stars Robert Shaw and Mary Ure were married in real life at the time and the film marked Ure’s final feature film appearance before her death in 1975. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
6 Nov 1972.
---
Box Office
12 Mar 1973
p. 4572.
CineFantastique
Spring 1974
p. 27.
Daily Variety
14 Mar 1973
p. 2, 18.
Filmfacts
1973
pp. 22-24.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1971
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 1971
p. 28.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Mar 1971.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Oct 1973.
---
New York Times
13 Feb 1973
p. 25.
Variety
14 Mar 1973
p. 21.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst
Asst cam
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly op
Best boy
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Standby painter
Greensman
COSTUMES
Men's ward
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Prod secy
Prod's asst
Transportation capt
Craft service
First aid
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Go to Thy Deathbed by Stanton Forbes (Garden City, NY, 1968).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Labyrinth
Autumn Child
Release Date:
1973
Premiere Information:
San Francisco opening: Nov 1972; New York opening: 9 Feb 1973
Production Date:
late Jan--late Mar 1971
Copyright Claimant:
Howard P. Jaffe Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 November 1972
Copyright Number:
LP41232
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman Color
Duration(in mins):
89-90 or 95
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a secluded mansion near a coastal New England town, the fragile, teenaged Marguerite Heffernan lives with her severe mother Katherine and grandmother, Julia Sterling. Absorbed by the minutia of various science hobbies and her extravagant doll collection, the precocious Marguerite nevertheless hides her continued childhood attachment to a doll named Aaron, with whom she has secret frank discussions. One afternoon, Katherine receives a letter from her long-estranged husband, Michael Heffernan, announcing his intention to visit since his daughter for the first time since she was five. While Marguerite excitedly prepares to meet her father, she also finds herself arguing with a jealous Aaron. Soon after, Michael arrives at the town’s inn with his girl friend, Anne Haverd, both of whom are welcomed by the innkeeper’s son Hector, who is on vacation from medical school. At the mansion that afternoon, Katherine and Julia offer Michael a stiff reception, and when Michael reveals he has come seeking a divorce so that he might marry Anne, Julia responds caustically. When Marguerite joins the adults, Michael greets her warmly, but is soon dismayed to learn that his daughter does not attend school but has private tutors, is isolated and friendless. After Marguerite unexpectedly becomes upset over the destruction of her private garden and loudly blames Aaron, Julia escorts her to her room. Michael then expresses his disappointment at Marguerite’s overly sheltered upbringing, provoking Katherine to slap him in anger. Later, back at the inn, Michael tells Anne that Katherine has agreed to the divorce with the sole condition that he never see Marguerite again. Lamenting that Marguerite’s secluded rearing has ... +


In a secluded mansion near a coastal New England town, the fragile, teenaged Marguerite Heffernan lives with her severe mother Katherine and grandmother, Julia Sterling. Absorbed by the minutia of various science hobbies and her extravagant doll collection, the precocious Marguerite nevertheless hides her continued childhood attachment to a doll named Aaron, with whom she has secret frank discussions. One afternoon, Katherine receives a letter from her long-estranged husband, Michael Heffernan, announcing his intention to visit since his daughter for the first time since she was five. While Marguerite excitedly prepares to meet her father, she also finds herself arguing with a jealous Aaron. Soon after, Michael arrives at the town’s inn with his girl friend, Anne Haverd, both of whom are welcomed by the innkeeper’s son Hector, who is on vacation from medical school. At the mansion that afternoon, Katherine and Julia offer Michael a stiff reception, and when Michael reveals he has come seeking a divorce so that he might marry Anne, Julia responds caustically. When Marguerite joins the adults, Michael greets her warmly, but is soon dismayed to learn that his daughter does not attend school but has private tutors, is isolated and friendless. After Marguerite unexpectedly becomes upset over the destruction of her private garden and loudly blames Aaron, Julia escorts her to her room. Michael then expresses his disappointment at Marguerite’s overly sheltered upbringing, provoking Katherine to slap him in anger. Later, back at the inn, Michael tells Anne that Katherine has agreed to the divorce with the sole condition that he never see Marguerite again. Lamenting that Marguerite’s secluded rearing has left her, as he describes it, “talking like a book,” Michael adds that he has accepted a dinner invitation at the mansion that evening. Before the dinner, Marguerite and Aaron have a bitter quarrel, during which Aaron accuses Katherine and Julia of lying to Marguerite about Michael and suggests that the women have been tampering with Marguerite’s daily insulin injections. At dinner that night, as the adults chat politely, Anne expresses interest in Marguerite’s numerous science and art projects. Although Katherine privately tells Marguerite later that she will never see her father again, she allows him to listen to Marguerite’s nightly prayers. Before bidding her father goodnight, Marguerite asks him to meet her later that night in the garden and he agrees. Driving Anne back to the inn, Michael reveals his plan to take Marguerite from Katherine and Julia, whom he blames for his daughter’s obvious emotional instability. When Marguerite prepares to meet her father later, Aaron makes sardonic remarks, prompting her to beat the doll and fling it across her room. Later, in the darkened garden, Michael waits for his daughter at the appointed time but only sees an unrecognizable figure some distance away. Meanwhile, having heard noises outside, Julia goes into the garden to investigate and is attacked and strangled to death, then tossed into a small pond. Unaware of any disturbance, Katherine is awakened by a knocking on her bedroom door, which she opens to an axe-wielding assailant who brutally slays her. The following morning, after Peggy, the family maid, discovers the bodies, police detective McKenna arrives to investigate. Upon questioning Peggy, who describes the argument between Katherine and Michael, and the gardener Kevin, who witnessed an unidentified youth climbing over the mansion wall, McKenna summons Michael. Without directly stating that Michael is a suspect, McKenna suggests that he and Anne remain in the town and move into the mansion to look after the distraught Marguerite. Reluctantly agreeing, the couple moves into the large house. In her bedroom, Marguerite rails at Aaron for causing trouble and demands that he leave her alone. The following afternoon, McKenna returns to inform Michael and Anne that Julia’s will leaves the entire Sterling fortune and property to Marguerite and, indirectly, Michael, who is now her legal guardian, yet McKenna stops short of directly accusing him of the murders. Michael asks for and receives McKenna’s permission to leave the grounds to take Marguerite to the beach. There, Anne’s boisterous frolics fade as Michael pays exclusive attention to his daughter. That evening, Anne angrily tells Michael she feels there is something unnatural and “carnivorous” in Marguerite’s attachment to him, but Michael dismisses her concern. Despite her uneasiness, over the next several days, Anne makes a sincere effort to befriend Marguerite, spending time with her and inquiring about her art and dolls. Telling Michael about her apprehension over Marguerite’s continual references to Aaron, Anne wonders if Aaron could, in fact, be a real person. A few days later, Marguerite confesses to Michael her hope that she might live with him after the murder investigation is settled, but fears she would be an intrusion in his relationship with Anne. Soon after, Hector begins visiting the mansion to see Marguerite who is both flattered and unnerved by his attentions. One night, Aaron forces Marguerite to listen to Michael and Anne having sex, and Marguerite grows deeply distressed. Angered when Michael refuses to address Marguerite’s loud, emotional response, Anne storms out of the house and drives away. Halfway down the drive, Anne sees a figure in a rain cape and, thinking it is Hector, stops, gets out and calls to him. The figure attacks her, but is frightened away by headlights from the nearby road. Shakily returning to the house, Anne tells Michael of the incident, which they report to McKenna. The next day, Hector takes Marguerite for a motorboat cruise, during which Marguerite grows increasingly uneasy over his attempts to kiss her. Later, the police discover the motorboat wrecked on the beach and Marguerite in hysterics. Examining the site, McKenna suspects the vessel’s motor became stuck on full speed and rammed itself onto the shore, hurling Hector to his death on the rocks. Convinced by all the suspicious deaths that Marguerite is seriously unbalanced, Michael arranges to have his daughter placed in a sanitarium in Boston. After Michael tells Marguerite, she reacts violently, destroying all her science projects in the attic. Despite Anne’s warnings, Michael goes to confront his daughter only to be attacked by a club-wielding teenage boy. After fighting off the attacker, Michael realizes that it is Marguerite and, confirming information he had learned earlier from medical records, sees that the disheveled Marguerite is really a boy. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.