6.4/10
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38 user 42 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.

Director:

Curtis Harrington

Writer:

Henry Farrell
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Paulle Clark ... Mrs. Plumb
Yvette Vickers ... Mrs. Barker
Molly Dodd ... Mrs. Rigg
Samee Lee Jones Samee Lee Jones ... Winona Palmer (as Sammee Lee Jones)
Robbi Morgan ... Rosalie Greenbaum
Timothy Carey ... The Tramp
Swen Swenson 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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 April 1972 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

The Box Step See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joanne Woodward, Shirley MacLaine and Estelle Parsons were each offered roles in the film but passed. Rita Hayworth was approached to play Adelle, but she was in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease, and was therefore unfit to take the part. See more »

Goofs

In the final scene showing a dead Adelle strung up on the ladder, the close-up shot shows her throat moving. See more »

Quotes

Sister Alma: I offered you my blessing, but you refused it. Now move along.
See more »

Connections

References Polly of the Circus (1932) See more »

Soundtracks

Bye Bye Blackbird
(uncredited)
Written by Ray Henderson & Mort Dixon
Performed by Debbie Reynolds
See more »

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User Reviews

A childhood nightmare revisited
20 September 2004 | by pjmuckSee all my reviews

It has taken me 24 years to find the courage to see this film again. Like another reviewer here, I was too young when I first saw this movie back in 1971 at the tender age of 7 (what were my parents thinking?!), and it's disturbing visuals have haunted me all of my life. This is a gory, gruesome film, all things considered, with quick, effective shots of mangled bodies and cute furry creatures. And that ending! Seeing Debbie's face again in the finale after all these years conjured up my repressed childhood chills once again.

Overall, a very effective film with a "Tales from the Crypt-esque" ending and some superb acting.


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