7.4/10
27,508
119 user 52 critic

An American Crime (2007)

The true story of suburban housewife Gertrude Baniszewski, who kept a teenage girl locked in the basement of her Indiana home during the 1960s.

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4,507 ( 127)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Jennie Likens
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Lester Likens
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Betty Likens
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Paula Baniszewski
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Shirley Baniszewski (as Hannah Leigh Dworkin)
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Reverend Bill Collier
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Hope Orbach
Patricia Place ...
Mrs. Doyle
Calvin Keet ...
Mr. Doyle
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Storyline

Based on a true story that shocked the nation in 1965, the film recounts one of the most shocking crimes ever committed against a single victim. Sylvia and Jennie Fae Likens, the two daughters of traveling carnival workers are left for an extended stay at the Indianapolis home of single mother Gertrude Baniszewski and her six children. Times are tough, and Gertrude's financial needs cause her to make this arrangement before realizing how the burden will push her unstable nature to a breaking point. What transpires in the next three months is both riveting and horrific. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

This has been the most terrible crime ever committed in the state of Indiana See more »

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong and disturbing depiction of child abuse and torture | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 December 2007 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

The Basement  »

Filming Locations:


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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Real pictures of Sylvia can be found online, mainly crime scene photos. See more »

Goofs

In a scene set in 1965, a character rushes into a phone booth and dials for an operator without inserting a coin. The free operator call feature was not instituted until many years later. See more »

Quotes

Gertrude Baniszewski: You know what it's like to be sick, Sylvia. I've been sick for so long, too. I can't... discipline my kids they was I should. I punish them I know, but... sometimes with my medicine I gets so I don't know what I'm doing.
[begins to cry]
Gertrude Baniszewski: And I care for them so much. Paula, the thing is... Paula's a lot like me. I had her when I was just about your age. Then Stephanie. Then all the others. Then John left... And here I am on medicine, doing whatever I can to keep my family together. I want ...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

The final credit states "Sylvia Likens, 1949-1965". See more »

Connections

Version of The Girl Next Door (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Tell the World About This
Written by Mahalia Jackson
Performed by Mahalia Jackson
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
sad film, good directing, worth watching.

This film was very sad, and the outcome; slightly unpredicted. It makes you look at the screen, confused and slightly horrified. The direction of the film is very good, somehow it makes you feel like you're involved, but like you cant be of any help, which I think reflects the feelings of the majority of the characters.

The influence of the Catherine Keener's character on her children obviously has a different effect by the end of the film. It is a very touching film, as it forces you to see the strength it takes to protect your family, from evils that are affecting you, and evidently you, yourself.

Ellen Page's Acting is on top-form in this film. She's very convincing. In fact, all the acting in this film is extremely good. And the amount of violence, isn't heavy at all, although some people find some scenes hard to watch. However, everything in the film, is crucial to the story. And ultimately, this is a story of a girl, who was stricken by misfortune. I believe her story was told well. But I'm sure there's more to it. Although, if hit by such grief, I wouldn't mind warning the world of such ill adventures.

Overall: this film should be given a metaphorical, standing ovation. As there are so many things about this piece, good; however intense, bitter and sorrowful, it is definitely one worth watching.


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