A French intelligence agent becomes embroiled in the Cold War politics first with uncovering the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and then back to France to break up an international Russian spy ring.
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
Alfred Hitchcock's films have become famous for a number of elements and iconography: vertiginous heights, innocent men wrongfully accused, blonde bombshells dressed in white, voyeurism, long non-dialogue sequences, etc. In this his final film, one last iconographic element was added to the canon: the woman in black. Karen Black plays a villainous character whose outfit is the antithesis of the blonde dressed in white. Her costume comprises black hat, black dress, large black sunglasses obscuring the face and a long blonde wig. This menacing character image was notable in this movie and its image dominated in the film's printed promotional material and movie posters. The malevolent character-image has since been re-used in such famous movies as for character Bobbi in 'Brian de Palma''s Dressed to Kill (1980) and Hannibal Lecter's on-the-run end-of-movie disguise in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). 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 »
Isn't it touching how a perfect murder has kept our friendship alive all these years.
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The Universal logo does not appear anywhere on this film. See more »
No, not great Hitchcock, but entertaining nonetheless
Family Plot differs from all the other Hitchcock films. It lacks suspense, for the most part, and it is not as funny as many of his films. Instead, it is just an amusing little yarn. I like the way the film starts with two separate plot lines which gradually merge. Even if it is not the most original thing in the world (especially since two of Family Plot's stars were main players in Robert Altman's Nashville), it still makes the film interesting. If anyone else had made this film, it probably would be more fondly received by the public, although I doubt anyone would still be watching it today.
The two characters with whom we begin the film, whom we would consider the heroes, are the best, and are played lovingly by Barbara Harris and Bruce Dern. She's a hack psychic milking old ladies out of pensions, and he's a cabbie who cannot find enough time both to drive his cab and participate in Harris' schemes. Although the characters aren't as well developed as those in numerous other Hitchcock ventures, they're entertaining.
The other couple, Karen Black and William Devane, fare less well. They're more crafty in their crimes, perpetrating large-scale kidnappings for enormous ransoms. Karen Black's character is very underdeveloped, hardly showing any depth. What character she does have is not entirely believable, since Karen Black seems too nice to play a hardcore criminal. William Devane is decent as the sinister mastermind, but the history provided to his character is far more brutal than is believable (he locked his adopted parents in their bedroom and set fire to their house).
I liked the idea of the small time crooks clashing with the professionals, and I liked the outcome of the film. All in all, it is decent and worth watching. It does not feel anything like a Hitchcock film, so I wouldn't expect anything like Vertigo or Rear Window when approaching this, his swan song. 7/10
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