Monday, June 04, 2012

Family Plot


Family Plot


Fake medium Madam Blanche (Barbara Harris) and her taxi driver boyfriend George (Bruce Dern) make a living by scaming people with her phoney powers. They are hired by an aging widow, Julia Rainbird, to find her nephew who was given away for adoption many years earlier following a family scandal. Meanwhile, an extremely clever couple, diamond merchant Arthur Adamson (William Devine) and his attractive girlfriend Fran (Karen Black), are behind a series of kidnappings of various VIPs in the San Francisco area. The two couples paths soon cross and chaos results in Hitchcock's last film. Written by Col Needham {}

Ed here: On his fine blog Martin Edwards makes some interesting points about the late work of Alfred Hitchcock. I agree with him about Topaz. It's the only Hitchcock movie I ever felt like leaving early.

In passing Martin makes a favorable comment on one of my favorite Hitchcock pictures, Family Plot, the outline for which I've posted above. With one exception--Hitchcock's rather clumsy and incessant use of rear-screen projection--I'd put this in his top ten.

Barbara Harris and Bruce Dern are Sixties street people who are in fact hippie criminals. Harris is endearing in a whacked out way; Dern is as usual dour, suspicious, pissy. He's almost as good as James Garner at playing pissy (Rockford had to be the pissiest PI of all time, no small part of his charm and believeability--you wouldn't be pissy if you had a friend like Angel?).

William Devane is all teeth and arrogance as a self-described master thief and Karen Black erotic and fascinating in her Karen Black way.

The plot ingeniously brings these two couples together as their combined machinations lead the audience to a brilliantly staged third act twist.

This is one of those oddball little charmers that the mainstream critics of the time just didn't seem to understand.

1 comment:

Fred Zackel said...

I was there when it was filmed. I was invited by Roy Thinnes and his wife. He left the shoot, replaced by ol' Hitch himself. Saw him, too.Now let's see if I can prove I am not a robot ... (Hate these suckers!)