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The Honeymoon Killers (1969)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  4 February 1970 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 2,741 users  
Reviews: 51 user | 50 critic

An obese, embittered nurse doesn't mind if her toupee-wearing boyfriend romances and fleeces other women, as long as he takes her along on his con jobs.

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Title: The Honeymoon Killers (1969)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Shirley Stoler ...
...
Mary Jane Higby ...
Janet Fay
...
Bunny
Kip McArdle ...
...
Dortha Duckworth ...
Mrs. Beck - Martha's Mother
Barbara Cason ...
Evelyn Long
Ann Harris ...
Doris
Mary Breen ...
Elsa Raven ...
Matron
Mary Engel ...
Lucy
Guy Sorel ...
Mr. Dranoff
Michael Haley ...
Jackson (as Mike Haley)
Diane Asselin ...
Severns
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Storyline

In the early 1950s, Martha Beck, who lives with her slightly senile mother, is the head nurse in a Mobile, Alabama hospital. She is bitter about her life, she not having male companionship in large part because she is overweight, while her bitterness in turn does not endear her to people. She is initially angry with her best friend, Bunny, for signing her up to a lonely hearts club, but eventually decides to give it a try. Through it, she meets Ray Fernandez, a suave Spanish immigrant living in New York, he who contacted Martha as the first through the club. After Ray's trip to Mobile to meet Martha, they fall in love. Upon a subsequent visit Martha makes to Ray in New York - which leads to her being fired in part for her time off work - he decides to be up front with her: that she is not only not his "first" but that he is really a con man who, primarily through the club, seduces then bilks lonely women of their money. Pretending to be his sister to prospective targets, Martha ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

One of the most bizarre episodes in the annals of American Crime. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 February 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dear Martha  »

Box Office

Budget:

$150,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Originally to be directed by Martin Scorsese, but he was replaced after a week of shooting due to creative differences by Donald Volkman who was subsequently replaced by Leonard Kastle. Scorsese was fired because he was filming every scene in master shots and not shooting close-ups or other coverage, making the film impossible to edit. According to Kastle's interview with the Criterion collection, the ultimate moment that caused Scorsese's firing was trying to get close-up on a coffee-cup lit perfectly for the intended tone. See more »

Goofs

When Martha and Myrtle have an argument and Myrtle tells Martha she intends to take "Charles" with her to Little Rock, a microphone is visible right next to Myrtle. It doesn't look like a boom mic, but rather a handheld one because you can definitely see someone moves it a little to catch Shirley Stoler's line. See more »

Quotes

Myrtle Young: [Ray rebuffs her sexual advances] Oooo, you are meenie-weenie!
See more »

Connections

Featured in TCM Underground: The Honeymoon Killers (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphonies Nos. 5, 6 & 9
Composed by Gustav Mahler
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Why ?
19 June 2002 | by See all my reviews

Why did Leonard Kastle make only one movie?When so many "directors" are allowed to release mediocrities by the dozen,when almost every thriller looks like the one before?

I saw "the honeymoon killers" at the beginning of the seventies in a "art et essai" movie theater (in France,"art et essai" means non -commercial and artistical works).The movie had little impact on the "mainstream" audience ,and the TV was afraid to broadcast it.

Thirty years later,it still packs a real wallop:it has worn extremely well,even better than praised classics such as "gun crazy" and "Bonnie and Clyde".I'm sure it had a strong influence on Francis Girod's "le trio infernal"(1974)."The honeymoon killers" is unique,a work of the first order.Hats off to the two leads ,Shirley Stoler and Tony LoBianco ;their casting was ideal.Had the producers hired two stars,the movie would have lost in credibility.Because,credible,this movie is,and not because it is a true story:for instance "Bonnie and Clyde" is also a true story,but the characters are icons,some kind of Robin Hoods,far from their models.Don't get me wrong,I love Penn's movie,but Kastle's is a different matter:this director-scenarist shows the couple "au naturel".We've already met Martha somewhere:she's the fat nurse, par excellence the outcast,deprived of the thrill of it all,particularly seduction and love.Her behavior,as horrifying it may be,makes sense.The whole movie depicts her pursuit of happiness.She's full of hatred,jealousy and her contempt for these ugly ,old and frivolous women is so intense it's almost unbearable.She hates them because their money can buy anything and most of them used to be wooed,something she has never known and never will.

This is one of the most ambitious side of the screenplay:taking a subject Alfred Hitchcock partially treated in "shadow of a doubt" (1942),it pushes it to its absolute limits:all these old biddies in their" pigpen" (as Joseph Cotten's uncle Charlie said),acting as if they are twenty-something and still dreaming of Prince Charming are so hateful the audience almost sides with Martha and her partner.

Ray is a very complex character:it's a gigolo,but in several respects ,he's still a child.Martha is at once his lover,his mother and his "sister" (they are as like as two peas in a pod ,one character says,echoing the "gun crazy " heroes,as like as two bullets in a revolver).Martha seems the leader,Ray acting more as an instrument. As their crimes become more and more appalling,sexual desire is increasing."I want to make love" Ray says,after having killed Fay.

Humor (most of the time black) is constant and some of the lines are hilarious.But the last crime is so horrible it leaves the audience completely in despair.And ending the movie with a romantic love letter is a product of pure provocation.

Although by no means a violent movie (particularly when compared to today's standards),it's definitely one of the most terrifying works of American cinema.A must .


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