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Family Plot (1976)

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A phony psychic/con artist and her taxi driver/private investigator boyfriend encounter a pair of serial kidnappers while trailing a missing heir in California.

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Writers:

Ernest Lehman (screenplay), Victor Canning (novel)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Karen Black ... Fran
Bruce Dern ... George Lumley
Barbara Harris ... Blanche Tyler
William Devane ... Arthur Adamson
Ed Lauter ... Joseph Maloney
Cathleen Nesbitt ... Julia Rainbird
Katherine Helmond ... Mrs. Maloney
Warren J. Kemmerling ... Grandison
Edith Atwater ... Mrs. Clay
William Prince ... Bishop Wood
Nicholas Colasanto ... Constantine
Marge Redmond ... Vera Hannagan
John Lehne John Lehne ... Andy Bush
Charles Tyner ... Wheeler
Alexander Lockwood Alexander Lockwood ... Parson
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You must see it twice! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 April 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alfred Hitchcock's 53rd Film See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,490,375 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$13,200,000, 31 December 1976
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Jack Nicholson couldn't accept the role of George Lumley, as he was doing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). See more »

Goofs

The first time we see Blanche riding in the back of George's taxi it's rather obvious the background is on a "green screen". Because of this, the street lights ahead of the taxi can be seen moving back and forth right through George's hat and head. See more »

Quotes

Fran: I don't know what's come over me tonight. I'm tingling all over.
Arthur Adamson: 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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Universal logo does not appear anywhere on this film. See more »


Soundtracks

Rejoice, the Lord Is King
(1744) (uncredited)
Music by John Darwall
Lyrics by Charles Wesley
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Gets a bad rap
9 September 2005 | by crashpoint1See all my reviews

This film gets a bad rap because it was not a suspenseful blockbuster in the vein of "Psycho" and "The Birds". The fact is, is that after Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedrin did battle with seagulls in 1963, Hitchcock never again approached the heights of a major director and he dramatically slowed down his film output.

Still, this movie, along with 1964's "Marnie" and '72's "Frenzy" represent a decent effort by Hitchcock to stay current and hip with modern audiences. That he was still directing films at all in the 1960s and 1970s is quite remarkable for a man whose film work began in the silent era.

"Family Plot" is a fun, neat little comedy-thriller much akin to the NBC Mystery Movies of that era... i.e., "Columbo", "McMillen and Wife". Blanche is a phony psychic who, along with her reluctant boyfriend Frank, played hilariously by the underrated Bruce Dern, run afoul of big time crooks Karen Black and William Devane.

The plot does get a bit convoluted, but Hitchcock was smart enough to lay off the heavy-handed dictatorial directorship that categorized his earlier work and let the actors and their characters move the plot along. Unlike Cary Grant's Thornhill in "North By Northwest", we care about Blanche and Frank because they really are like us, the viewer. As much as we all adored the women in Hitch's films... Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren, Kim Novak, and wanted to be like the men,Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewert, Ray Milland, Rod Taylor, Farley Granger, etc., none of these characters were remotely like US, and in his dotage, Hitchcock was still keen enough to realize that Cary Grant in 1956 was an admirable figure walking down the street... in 1976 he was apt to be pointed at and laughed about. Hitch knew INSTINCTIVELY that the gray suit and slicked back hair era was gone forever. In this film, it doesn't even look like Dern showers.

That's part of the charm and why it was so refreshing, at this late date, to go into the movie theater and enjoy an Alfred Hitchcock film without having to sigh that it was all about nostalgia. This film, in his humorous approach has much in common with "The Trouble With Harry" than "Psycho" or "Shadow of a Doubt".

Hitch didn't go out with a classic, that's for sure, but he went out with a modern film that showed he could still produce an entertaining flick. That was all he was ever about anyway. No higher praise is needed.


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