The morality of helping a terminally ill person to die has been debated in the courts several times with many different verdicts. In this film, Hayward is a Canadian physician who follows her married lover across the sea to England. When he pleads with her to help him die, she injects him
with an overdose of morphine, is immediately arrested, and is tried. Finch, the prosecuting attorney, goes after her viciously, eager to make a name for himself and convinced that this is how to do it. Hayward is convicted of manslaughter and receives a two-year prison term. On her release, she is
no longer allowed to practice medicine, all she's ever done. Alone and broke, she gets an intriguing proposition: an anonymous person wishes her to come to a house in the country for a position that may be to her advantage. Once there, she learns that her prospective employer is Finch and that he
wants Hayward to care for his wife, Cilento, mentally ill since her father's accidental death. Having no other means of support, Hayward accepts. But all is not what it seems. Soon Cilento's father, Cusack, shows up very much alive, and Hayward realizes there are some shenanigans going on.
Genuinely fond of her patient, she takes her to what Cilento has described as a "mansion"--the old family estate in Ireland, which turns out to be a ramshackle house in the fishing village of Crookhaven, County Cork. (All locations are authentic, incidentally.) Cilento admits that the death of her
father, an old reprobate and conniver, has been a hoax. At this point Cilento has a real mental collapse. With another doctor to advise her, Hayward administers a mild sedative. Later, when Cilento is found dead, Hayward realizes that she is involved in one large frame-up and suspects Finch. At
the inquest, however, Finch appears to be defending Hayward against coroner Devlin's questions. Hayward, of course, can't trust a man who has already put her in jail once. Then Cusack is questioned, and we learn that Cilento overdosed herself and that Cusack hid the bottle when he found the body.
After his dramatic confession on the stand, Cusack tries to escape the hearing but falls to his death--and none too soon. Finch is now looking at Hayward differently. She's innocent, and he's free of the blonde millstone he has had around his neck. The film ends with just a hint that the two may
find some common interests.
Hayward and director Stevens clashed repeatedly over the script, which the actress considered weak and generally treated with contempt. She also had little use for Finch, whose most dynamic response to her charms was little more than a torporous stare. Hayward's usual flamboyant posture improved
the anemic production but could not save it. The box office was as unresponsive to the film as Finch had seemed to Hayward.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The morality of helping a terminally ill person to die has been debated in the courts several times with many different verdicts. In this film, Hayward is a Canadian physician who follows her married lover across the sea to England. When he pleads with her… (more)