IMDb > What's the Matter with Helen? (1971)
What's the Matter with Helen?
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What's the Matter with Helen? (1971) More at IMDbPro »


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6.4/10   1,082 votes »
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Popularity: ?
Down 13% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Henry Farrell (written by)
View company contact information for What's the Matter with Helen? on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
13 April 1972 (Mexico) See more »
Why are they all dying so violently?... even the little rabbits! See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Oscar. See more »
User Reviews:
What's the matter with the script? See more (33 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Debbie Reynolds ... Adelle Bruckner aka Adelle Stuart

Shelley Winters ... Helen Hill aka Helen Martin

Dennis Weaver ... Linc Palmer
Micheál MacLiammóir ... Hamilton Starr (as Micheal Mac Liammóir)

Agnes Moorehead ... Sister Alma
Helene Winston ... Mrs. Greenbaum
Peggy Rea ... Mrs. Schultz
Logan Ramsey ... Detective Sgt. West
Paulle Clark ... Mrs. Plumb

Yvette Vickers ... Mrs. Barker
Molly Dodd ... Mrs. Rigg
Samee Lee Jones ... Winona Palmer (as Sammee Lee Jones)
Robbi Morgan ... Rosalie Greenbaum

Timothy Carey ... The Tramp
Swen Swenson ... The Gigolo
Debbie Van Den Houten ... Sue Anne
Teresa De Rose ... Donna
Pamelyn Ferdin ... Kiddie M.C.
Allen Pinson ... The Man
James Dobson ... Billy--Cab Driver
Sadie Delfino ... The Little Lady
Tammy Lee ... One of Adelle's Kiddystars
Sharann Hisamoto ... One of Adelle's Kiddystars (as Sharon Hisamoto)
Stacey Hollow ... One of Adelle's Kiddystars
Marcia Garcia ... One of Adelle's Kiddystars
Bambi Meyers ... One of Adelle's Kiddystars

Rocky Bonifield ... One of Adelle's Kiddystars (as Roxanne Meyers)
Vicki Schreck ... One of Adelle's Kiddystars
Keri Shuttleton ... One of Adelle's Kiddystars
Shawn Steinman ... One of Adelle's Kiddystars (as Shawn Steinmann)
Madelon Tupper ... One of Adelle's Kiddystars

Sian Winship ... One of Adelle's Kiddystars
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Eleanor Roosevelt ... Herself (archive footage)

Franklin D. Roosevelt ... Himself (archive footage)
Peter Brocco ... Old Man (uncredited)
Gary Combs ... Matt Hill (uncredited)
Annette Davis ... Spinster (uncredited)
Douglas Deane ... Fanatical Man (uncredited)
Minta Durfee ... Old Lady (uncredited)
Helene Heigh ... Widow (uncredited)
Peggy Patten ... Ellie Banner (uncredited)
Harry Stanton ... Malcolm Hays (uncredited)

Peggy Walton-Walker ... Young Girl (uncredited)

Directed by
Curtis Harrington 
Writing credits
Henry Farrell (written by)

Produced by
George Edwards .... producer
Edward S. Feldman .... executive producer
James C. Pratt .... associate producer
Original Music by
David Raksin 
Cinematography by
Lucien Ballard (director of photography)
Film Editing by
William Reynolds  (as William H. Reynolds)
Casting by
Caro Jones 
Art Direction by
Eugène Lourié  (as Eugene Lourie)
Set Decoration by
Jerry Wunderlich 
Costume Design by
Morton Haack 
Makeup Department
Sydney Guilaroff .... hair creations
William Tuttle .... makeup artist
Bette Iverson .... hair stylist (uncredited)
Helene Parrish .... hair stylist (uncredited)
Scotty Rackin .... hair stylist (uncredited)
William Reynolds .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Claude Binyon Jr. .... assistant director
John Thomas Lenox .... assistant director trainee (uncredited)
Michael Messinger .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Ted P. Angel .... senior set designer (uncredited)
Glen Cooper .... stand-by painter (uncredited)
Les Gobruegge .... assistant art director (uncredited)
Dudley Holmes .... prop master (uncredited)
Gerald MacDonald .... coordinator (uncredited)
Sound Department
Charles Grenzbach .... sound re-recordist (as Bud Grenzbach)
Al Overton Jr. .... sound
Hal Belcher .... sound (uncredited)
Bob Sheridan .... engineer (uncredited)
Bob Sheridan .... sound boom (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Robert Edouart .... second assistant camera (uncredited)
Bud Gaunt .... grip (uncredited)
Earl Gilbert .... gaffer (uncredited)
Bud Howell .... dolly grip (uncredited)
Thomas Laughridge .... camera operator (uncredited)
Cecil Lupton .... best boy (uncredited)
Robert Schunke .... best boy (uncredited)
Sterling Smith .... still photographer (uncredited)
Bud Woodside .... rigging gaffer (uncredited)
Harry Young .... first assistant camera (uncredited)
Casting Department
Darlene di Ponzio .... casting secretary (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Fanny Edwards .... costumer: women (uncredited)
Sally Lister .... costumer: women (uncredited)
Andy Matyasi .... costumer: men (uncredited)
Terri Nelson .... costume supervisor: women (uncredited)
Frank Tauss .... costume supervisor: men (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Michael F. Anderson .... apprentice film editor (uncredited)
James D. Wells .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Tony Charmoli .... stager: musical numbers
Ralph Ives .... music editor
David Raksin .... conductor
Randy Rayburn .... musician: rehearsal pianist (uncredited)
Other crew
Tony Charmoli .... choreographer
Paulle Clark .... production assistant
John Franco Jr. .... production assistant
Alan Greedy .... script supervisor (as Allan Greedy)
Phill Norman .... titles: Cinefx
Martin Ransohoff .... presenter
Tad Tadlock .... assistant choreographer
Bill Beaumont .... craft service (uncredited)
Cary Glieberman .... intern: American Film Institute (uncredited)
Dorothy Kelly .... production secretary (uncredited)
Jerry Roberts .... production assistant (uncredited)
Dominic Santarone .... caterer (uncredited)
Ruth Santarone .... caterer (uncredited)
Lorraine Serber .... production assistant (uncredited)
Carl Shapiro .... unit publicist (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
101 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:16 | Australia:M | Canada:14A (Canadian Home Video rating) | Finland:K-18 | Sweden:15 | USA:GP (Approved No. 22897) (original rating)

Did You Know?

When friend/director Curtis Harrington offered her the part, Shelley Winters took the lead role in the film without even reading the script.See more »
Continuity: There's a bible on the desk to the left of Helen as she talks to the detective and clasps her hands together. Suddenly her hands are outstretched across the desk and the bible's in the center.See more »
Sister Alma:I offered you my blessing, but you refused it. Now move along.See more »
Movie Connections:
References Polly of the Circus (1932)See more »
Animal Crackers in My SoupSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
24 out of 30 people found the following review useful.
What's the matter with the script?, 5 March 2005
Author: GroovyDoom from Haddonfield, IL

For fans of weird movies and these kinds of Grand Guignol horrors, "What's the Matter With Helen" is very nearly electrifying for about 3/4 of it's running time. Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters are both excellent as a pair of women whose sons have committed a murder. The two of them make an attempt to leave their old life behind and start over again in Hollywood, opening a small dance school and getting some new hairstyles. But someone is out to get them and make their lives miserable, and Shelley is a little off her rocker to begin with. Things go from bad to worse in no time.

There's a lot to love about the movie. The sets are kitschy, as is a lot of the acting. Debbie Reynolds is especially good as her character becomes more and more neurotic. There are also some bizarre song and dance numbers in there, too.

The script unravels in the final act. The resolution of the plot lacks a certain punch that should be there but isn't. It's like a balloon set to burst, and instead someone lets the air out of it just before it goes "pop". The final murder is botched a little, and even the creepy finale can't cover up the fact that the story's explanation is a little weak.

But if you enjoy the rest of the movie as much as I did, you might not even care about that. Definitely a must-see for genre buffs, this has some surprisingly shocking gruesome ideas and more than a little bit of gore.

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Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for What's the Matter with Helen? (1971)
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Shelley Winters on Piano ajh_pants
Opinions anyone...? craigoprego
What about Hamilton Starr? FranLovesBetteD
Debbie Reynolds = Babe JimmyCollins
Will this ever come out on blu ray? hairybro2000
Trailer Commentary for 'WTMWH' willardfillmore
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