During World War II, young Captain Walker and his wife Nora spend an idyllic day in the country before he returns to duty. Soon after, his plane is shot down and he is reported missing. On V-E Day, Nora gives birth to a healthy boy, Tommy, but five years later, she is still grieving for Walker at a Remembrance Day service. For vacation, Nora and Tommy attend a holiday camp, where an employee, Frank Hobbs, becomes attracted to her. Pleased to feel passion again, Nora marries Frank and he moves into her house. Late one night, Walker unexpectedly returns home and finds Frank and Nora in bed. In the turmoil that ensues, Frank hits Walker with a lamp and kills him. When Frank and Nora realize that six-year-old Tommy has witnessed the murder, they confront him, insisting that he did not see or hear anything and that he must never tell a soul what happened. Traumatized by Walker’s death and Nora and Frank’s demand, Tommy becomes deaf, dumb and blind. At Nora and Frank’s Christmas party that year, Tommy stares blindly into space, unaware of the festivities or the significance of the religious day, which causes Nora to worry about his spiritual salvation. For years, Tommy remains uncommunicative, living in his own world of fantasies, sounds and vibrations, but yearning for someone to break through to him. –AFI
British director Ken Russell started out training for a naval career, but after wartime RAF and merchant navy service he switched goals and went into ballet. Supplementing his dancing income as an actor and still photographer, Russell put together a handful of amateur films in the 50s before being hired as a staff director by the BBC. Russell made a name for himself (albeit a name not always spoken in reverence) during the first half of the ‘60s by directing a series of iconoclastic TV dramatizations of the lives of famous composers and dancers. And if he felt that the facts were getting in the way of his story, he’d make up his own — frequently bordering on the libelous. If he had any respect for the famous persons whose lives he probed, it was secondary to his fascination with revealing all warts and open wounds.
A film director since 1963, Russell burst into the international consciousness with 1969’s Women in Love, a hothouse version of the D.H. Lawrence novel. No director… read more