Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Johnny Belinda (1948)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Johnny Belinda (1948)

In director Jean Negulesco's (and Robert Wise's) psychological drama - an emotionally-charged psychological and social melodrama - with sensitive acting and a Max Steiner score, based on the 1940 stage hit play by Elmer Blaney Harris (which was based on a real-life incident) - it was the first Hollywood film to address the problem of rape (previously the controversial subject was banned):

  • the character of hearing-impaired/mute Belinda MacDonald (Best Actress winning Jane Wyman) (nicknamed "The Dummy") who lived on a farm with her bullish father Black MacDonald (Charles Bickford) and Aunt Aggie MacDonald (Agnes Moorehead) in a small Nova Scotia fishing town on Cape Breton Island (in eastern Canada) during the post-war period
  • the scene of Belinda sensing something of what music must be like, and trying to dance when her hand was placed upon a vibrating violin by kindly, compassionate and patient local country doctor Dr. Robert Richardson (Lew Ayres) during an impromptu dance at the farm; he had also taught her sign language
  • the growing jealousy and resentment of Dr. Richardson's secretary Stella (Jan Sterling) towards Belinda (when she was shown more attention by the doctor), and her subsequent interest in villager Locky McCormick (Stephen McNally); she prodded hatred and retaliation against Belinda: "You keep away from that Dummy...I saw you takin' in her legs....One thing, she'd never tell on you. But keep away from her or I'll be able..." - and then she forcefully kissed him; they would soon be married
  • the shadowy rape-attack sequence of drunken Locky against Belinda - that quickly faded to black
  • the subsequent disgracing of Dr. Richardson who everyone thought had impregnated Belinda
  • the murder of Belinda's father Black, who learned of the rapist's identity, confronted him, but then was thrown off the seaside cliff's edge by Locky
Rape-Attack on Belinda
Belinda's Murder of Attacker Trying to Steal Her Baby
Belinda's Trial with Widow Stella's Outburst
  • Belinda's silent recitation of the Lord's Prayer in sign language at the bedside of her dead father
  • the violent scene of Belinda's shotgun murder of her rapist Locky to protect her baby, Johnny Belinda, from being taken by him as he climbed the stairs to the bedroom
  • the scene of widowed, jealous Stella McCormick's outburst at Belinda's trial, who was tried for Locky's murder; in a dramatic confession, she claimed that Locky told her that he was the rapist: ("It was him, Locky. He's the baby's father. It was his fault!"); Belinda was subsequently acquitted because it was ruled that she was protecting her baby

Dr. Richardson Teaching Belinda Sign Language

Understanding and Kindness

Belinda Placing Hand on Vibrating Violin

Stella with Locky and Her Jealousy of Belinda

Black Confronting Locky Before Being Murdered

Belinda's Recitation of Lord's Prayer in Sign Language


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