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What's the Matter with Helen? (1971)

GP  |   |  Crime, Drama, Horror  |  13 April 1972 (Mexico)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 980 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 31 critic

Two middle-aged women move to Hollywood, California after their sons are convicted of a notorious murder and open a dance school for children eager to tap their way to stardom.

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Airs Sun. Apr. 26, 8:00 PM on TCM

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Adelle
...
Helen
...
Linc Palmer
Micheál MacLiammóir ...
Hamilton Starr (as Micheal Mac Liammóir)
...
Sister Alma
Helene Winston ...
Mrs. Greenbaum
Peggy Rea ...
Mrs. Schultz
Logan Ramsey ...
Detective Sgt. West
Paulle Clark ...
Mrs. Plumb
...
Mrs. Barker
Molly Dodd ...
Mrs. Rigg
Samee Lee Jones ...
Winona (as Sammee Lee Jones)
Robbi Morgan ...
Rosalie
...
The Tramp
Swen Swenson ...
The Gigolo
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Storyline

Set in the 30s, Helen and Adelle are two women whose sons commit a gruesome murder. After their conviction, they move to Hollywood change their names and open a dance school for girls. Adelle is looking for a good life and when one of the parents of her students who is wealthy takes a liking to her she thinks she's got it made. Helen thinks that someone who blames them for what their sons did is stalking them. But Adelle thinks it's all in her mind. Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Heart pounding terror! See more »


Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

13 April 1972 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

The Best of Friends  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shelley Winters decided that after they came in from the rain, her Helen character should have a moment when she kissed Debbie Reynolds Adelle character on the lips. This unscripted moment was filmed but removed from the final print of the movie to avoid attaining an R-rating. See more »

Goofs

The film is set in 1934 but the songs "Animal Crackers In My Soup" and "Goody-Goody" weren't released until 1935. See more »

Quotes

Helen Hill: Men can be quite a bit lower than the angels.
See more »

Connections

References Sitting Pretty (1933) See more »

Soundtracks

Animal Crackers in My Soup
Written by Irving Caesar, Ted Koehler & Ray Henderson
Performed by Samee Lee Jones
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User Reviews

 
Shelley Winters gone wild
16 January 2005 | by (The land of the Bunyips) – See all my reviews

The sons of two very different women are convicted of murder. Fearing for their safety in their small town in 1930s America, star-obsessed Adelle (Debbie Reynolds) decides to get a fresh new start in Hollywood, and convinces the quiet and religious Helen (Shelley Winters) to join her. They exploit the Shirley Temple craze by running a successful instructional school that teaches child actresses singing and dancing. Things seem to be going well for both until Helen starts to have crazed flashbacks about her "former life." But things have never looked better for Adelle, so What the hell is the matter with Helen?!

This movie is a hoot! Debbie Reynolds looks like a classic Hollywood starlet (fantastic costumes and makeup), and it is hilarious and sickening fun watching Shelley Winters in a downward spiral. Agnes Moorehead has an amusing cameo as a Radio evangelist with whom Helen becomes obsessed. The major drawback of the movie is the musical sequences. There are several, and while they do serve as a contrast to the more explicitly twisted elements in the film, showing entire song and dance routines is unnecessary (the scene where Reynolds tap-dances comes to mind here). It is also unfortunate that the film does not take advantage of the themes it presents. A deeper exploration of Helen's psychosis might have proved fascinating, scary, and even amusing.

Overall, What's the Matter with Helen? is an entertaining psychological horror/thriller that does its job but gets weighed down by filler drama and musical sequences. Recommended to fans of "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" and anyone who entertained by Shelley Winters going crazy. My Rating: 6/10.


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What about Hamilton Starr? FranLovesBetteD
Shelley Winters on Piano ajh_pants
song in this film HB-9
Film is campy fun but the DVD transfer is awful. takemehome
Helen was related to Baby Jane and Charlotte beamsamuel1
After the fall... ntnfoxworth
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