A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people there in increasing numbers and with increasing viciousness.
The trickster Madam Blanche Tyler lures the elder millionaire Julia Rainbird that believes she is a spiritualist. After a séance, she discovers that Julia is tormented by her past, when she forced her sister and single mother Harriet to deliver her baby for adoption to avoid a family scandal. Julia promises the small fortune of ten thousand-dollar to Blanche if she finds her nephew and heir of her fortune using her phony powers. Blanche asks her boyfriend George Lumley, who is an unemployed actor working as cab driver, to investigate the whereabouts of Julia's nephew. Meanwhile, the greedy jeweler and collector Arthur Adamson kidnaps wealthy people with his girlfriend Fran to increase his collection of diamonds with the ransom. When George concludes that Arthur Adamson might be the heir of Julia Rainbird, the reckless Blanche gets in trouble with the kidnappers. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The apparently Biblical sounding quotation that is read out at the funeral, is actually from the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 9:20-27). See more »
George removes the cap of the ketchup bottle twice between shots when he and Blanche are eating in Blanche's kitchen. See more »
I don't know what's come over me tonight. I'm tingling all over.
I told you about danger, didn't I? First it makes you sick, then when you get through it, it makes you very, very loving.
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The Universal logo does not appear anywhere on this film. See more »
Alfred Hitchcock's final film Family Plot is a story of two male and female criminal partnerships. The first pair is Bruce Dern and Barbara Harris who are a pair of small time grifters and we meet them in the process of fleecing a rich old spinster Cathleen Nesbitt with a phony psychic act.
The second pair are William Devane and Karen Black who have a lovely line in ransom kidnappings. They've really got it worked out to a science, including a soundproof hidden room in Devane's basement where the victims can be stashed until the ransom is paid.
Nesbitt confesses that she had her late sister give up an out of wedlock child during a séance and now she'd like to make amends by finding him and making him her heir. So with a finder's fee in mind Dern and Harris start digging.
Their paths cross Devane and Black as the police are hunting them so it becomes quite an interesting set of circumstances as Devane and Black suspect the others of being police operatives.
Hitchcock cleverly interweaves the stories of the two couples into a very cohesive plot. The players all hit the mark with their roles,] especially Devane, a smooth talking killer in the Hitchcock tradition of Otto Kruger in Saboteur, Tom Helmore in Vertigo, and James Mason in North By Northwest.
The ending is a bit of a surprise though, it comes rather abruptly. I have to confess I didn't like it at first, but it does kind of grow on you with repeated viewings.
Family Plot is a good for the master of suspense to go out on.
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