6.4/10
1,282
34 user 37 critic

What's the Matter with Helen? (1971)

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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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Helen Hill aka Helen Martin
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Linc Palmer
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Hamilton Starr (as Micheal Mac Liammóir)
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Sister Alma
Helene Winston ...
Mrs. Greenbaum
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Mrs. Schultz
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Detective Sgt. West
Paulle Clark ...
Mrs. Plumb
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Mrs. Barker
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Mrs. Rigg
Samee Lee Jones ...
Winona Palmer (as Sammee Lee Jones)
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Rosalie Greenbaum
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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

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Her friends die so suddenly and violently! See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence/bloody images | 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:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In September 1972, Helene Winston and Samee Lee Jones reunited on a segment of Love, American Style (1969) titled "Love and the Amateur Night." Essentially reprising their roles as an overbearing stage mother and a precocious Shirley Temple wannabe (named Debbie after "Helen" star Debbie Reynolds), Winston and Jones interrupt the honeymoon of a TV personality and hold an impromptu audition, with Jones again performing "Animal Crackers in My Soup" as Winston accompanies her on piano. See more »

Goofs

The film is set in 1934, but the prominently seen "Movie Life" magazine wasn't first published until 1937. See more »

Quotes

Helen Hill: Men can be quite a bit lower than the angels.
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Connections

References The Black Cat (1934) See more »

Soundtracks

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Music by Charles Crozat Converse and lyrics by Joseph M. Scriven
Performed by Agnes Moorehead
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User Reviews

"You will find that men are just a little bit lower than angels."
12 September 2003 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

This is certainly NOT a movie to laugh at, rather than with, as one commentator indicates. This move has an understated black comic humor running through it that is simply delirious fun! And that "borders on a bad musical" that another commentator mentions? Well, I believe it's supposed to be bad. In fact, frightening so. One of the major points of the film is how we live our dreadful lives in sad imitation of equally dreadful Hollywood stars. And these kids are but the sad tools of monstrous parents, forcing them to play bad imitations of Shirley Temple, or worse, trashy child vamps! And the worst of them all is Debbie Reynolds, who - when given a bouquet of gardenias - can only remark, "Oh! Joan Crawford's favorite!

See this movie. Observations like the one quoted in the title to this post will surely make you wet your pants. And if that doesn't, then Agnes Morehead's milking her flock for donations in support of her CHURCH OF THE OPEN HAND should do it. Or how about the poem she recites that goes something like, "Give it up for to God. It's time you took action. You should make Jesus your main attraction!"

The audience at the screening I went to the other night was actually on their feet cheering after the film.


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