Audrey Rose
Susan Swift

"I don't think we're going to prove reincarnation
Marsha Mason and Susan Swift

Marsha Mason and Susan Swift

in this picture, but I'm very open to the whole possibility of the supernatural, the para-normal, the possibility of dimensions out there."*

— Robert Wise, 1976

It is with this open mind that Wise addressed the subject of reincarnation in AUDREY ROSE, the story of a little girl who a man believes is his reincarnated daughter and the hell he puts her parents through.

Once again, Wise stayed away from shock value and tried to tell the story in a dignified manner. He also got another tremendous performance from a child actor, Susan Swift.

Synopsis Successful New York advertising executive Bill Templeton and his wife Janice have one child, an eleven-year-old daughter named Ivy. Ever since infancy, the youngster has been troubled by dreadful nightmares (usually occurring at the time of her birthday), but she can never recall what the dreams were about. Then both Janice and Bill gradually notice that a strange man has been closely observing Ivy as she travels back and forth to her school. After the child receives an expensive brocaded purse from the stranger, a biography from Who's Who arrives in the mail; it describes one Elliot Hoover, an eminent metallurgist whose wife and five-year-old daughter—Audrey Rose—died in a fiery automobile Audrey Rose Postercrash eleven years ago. Upon finally being confronted by Hoover, Janice persuades Bill to meet with him at a nearby restaurant. Though Hoover states that a psychic, as well as a clairvoyant, have convinced him that Ivy is the reincarnation of Audrey Rose (he even accurately describes Ivy's room—which he has never seen), Bill and Janice refuse to accept his theory and flee from the restaurant when their baby sitter phones to say that Ivy is having a terrible nightmare. Deeply troubled by the events, the Templetons consult with their lawyer, who suggests that he conceal himself in the house while Janice and Bill meet with Hoover. As they converse, Hoover vows that it is his firm conviction that Ivy was born two minutes after Audrey Rose burned to death in the car crash—and that her soul is in torment because it returned to life too soon. Suddenly, the sleeping Ivy suffers a violent seizure, becomes hysterical, and calms down only when Hoover enters her room and quietly says, "Audrey Rose, it's Daddy." The next evening, while Bill is out with a client, Ivy undergoes another attack and Janice once again permits Hoover to soothe the disturbed child. But when Bill returns and savagely attacks Hoover, the latter abducts Ivy and removes her to an apartment he has taken in the same building. As a result of the incident, Bill brings Hoover to trial, while Ivy is sent away to a Catholic boarding school in the hope of sparing her more traumatic shock. But as her classmates enact the traditional ceremony of setting a snowman ablaze to drive winter away, Ivy lapses into a trance and walks directly toward the fire until she is pulled to safety by a nun. Meanwhile, at Hoover's trial, several East Indians (with whom Hoover has served as a disciple) testify on the authenticity of reincarnation, and Janice supports Hoover's belief that Audrey Rose's soul does indeed reside in Ivy's body. Acting on the advice of Bill's attorney, the court authorizes Ivy's being subjected to hypnosis. Despite Janice's efforts to stop the experiment, a noted doctor, Steven Lipscomb, takes Ivy back to her childhood, then to her mother's womb, and finally to any possible pre-existence. Told by Lipscomb to recall the last moments of her former life, Ivy relives the horror when—as Audrey Rose—she perished in the flaming car crash. As she screams and falls to the floor, Lipscomb brings her back to consciousness, but does not call her by her former name. Hoover, realizing the child is without an identity, smashes through a plate glass partition and cries out the name Audrey Rose. But he is too late—she is already dead...Some time later, Janice writes to Hoover in India and tells him she believes that Ivy still lives, that her soul has found refuge in another body and is finally at peace.

From Film Facts, 1977

Wise Facts
  • This was Susan Swift's first film.
  • AUDREY ROSE is the only film in which Wise had a full week of rehearsal before shooting.
  • Credits: 113 min. United Artists; A Robert Wise Production; Distributed by: United Artists;  Directed by: Robert Wise;  Produced by: Joe Wizan and Frank De Felitta;  Screenplay by: Frank De Felitta;  Edited by: Carl Kress;  Director of Photography: Victor J. Kemper;  Music by: Michael Small;  Production Design by: Harry Horner;  Sound by: Tom Overton, William McCaughey, Aaron Rochin, Michael J. Kohut;  Costumes by: Dorothy Jeakins;  Make-up by: Fred Griffin;  Hair by: Jean Austin; 
    John Beck Cast  Marsha Mason (Janice Templeton), Anthony Hopkins (Elliott Hoover), John Beck (Bill Templeton), Susan Swift (Ivy Templeton), Norman Lloyd (Dr. Steven Lipscomb), John Hillerman (Scott Velie), Robert Walden (Brice Mack), Philip Sterling (Judge Langley), Ivy Jones (Mary Lou Sides), Stephen Pearlman (Russ Rothman), Aly Wassil (Maharishi Gupta Pradesh), Mary Jackson (Mother Veronica), Richard Lawson (Policeman #1), Tony Brande (Detective Fallon), Elizabeth Farley (Carole Rothman), Ruth Manning (Customer in Store), Stanley Brock (Cashier in Store), David Wilson (Policeman #2), David Fresco (Dominick), Pat Corley (Dr. Webster), Eunice Christopher (Mrs. Carbone), Karen Anders (Waitress).

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    1. Filmmakers Newsletter, April 1976, p.25

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