In the early 1950s, Martha Beck, who lives with her slightly senile mother, is the head nurse in a Mobile, Alabama hospital. She is bitter about her life, she not having male companionship in large part because she is overweight, while her bitterness in turn does not endear her to people. She is initially angry with her best friend, Bunny, for signing her up to a lonely hearts club, but eventually decides to give it a try. Through it, she meets Ray Fernandez, a suave Spanish immigrant living in New York, he who contacted Martha as the first through the club. After Ray's trip to Mobile to meet Martha, they fall in love. Upon a subsequent visit Martha makes to Ray in New York - which leads to her being fired in part for her time off work - he decides to be up front with her: that she is not only not his "first" but that he is really a con man who, primarily through the club, seduces then bilks lonely women of their money. Pretending to be his sister to prospective targets, Martha ...Written by
Director François Truffaut called this his favorite American film. See more »
When Martha and Myrtle have an argument and Myrtle tells Martha she intends to take "Charles" with her to Little Rock, a microphone is visible right next to Myrtle. It doesn't look like a boom mic, but rather a handheld one because you can definitely see someone moves it a little to catch Shirley Stoler's line. See more »
[shouting at Martha from the window of the rest home she's been dumped at]
Goddamn you, goddamn you! I hope you end up like this! I hope someone does this to YOU!
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Released in 1969 under the guise of a low-budget exploitation film, The Honeymoon Killers is in fact one of the best American real-life crime movies ever made. It tells the story of Martha (Shirley Stoler), a lonely, overweight nurse who is entered into a 'lonely hearts' club by her friend Bunny (Everybody Loves Raymond's Doris Roberts). She receives a response from Latin lothario Ray Fernandez (Tony Lo Bianco), who is a con-man who preys on lonely women, shaking them down for their money. When he reveals this to Martha, she is undeterred, and insists on joining him on his quests by posing as his sister. Ray promises that he won't sleep with any of them, but Martha's overbearing jealousy soon leads to murder.
Based on the notorious case of the 'lonely hearts killers', first (and only) time director Leonard Kastle adopts a documentary-style approach, opting to use mostly hand-held photography, naturalistic lighting, and minimalistic editing. If sometimes the small budget becomes obvious, this only heightens the sense of realism running throughout the film, assisted by two astonishing performances from it's leads. Stoler is immense, evoking sympathy at first but then revealing her true motives are rooted in jealousy and bitterness as she becomes unpredictable and frightening. Bianco, who is still enjoying a prolific career, performs with a flawless Latino accent, demonstrating the charm and seduction that helped Fernandez dupe so many of his unfortunate victims in real-life
But the film is not without artistic merits as well. Lacking blood and devoid of any kind of shock tactics, the murders are cold and brutal. A hammer blow to the head has as much impact as Leatherface's notorious entrance in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), as the victim struggles and twitches while the killers struggle for finish her off. Another has the camera focus just on the panicking eyes of a sedated victim, as Martha and Ray argue off- camera about to do with her. A gun then appears at the corner of the screen and it's all over. It's shockingly blunt for it's era, but only serves to make The Honeymoon Killers one of the most invigorating and uncomfortable experiences I've had in recent memory.
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