7.4/10
29,155
128 user 52 critic

An American Crime (2007)

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

Director:

Tommy O'Haver
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Popularity
1,388 ( 106)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ellen Page ... Sylvia Likens
Hayley McFarland ... Jennie Likens
Nick Searcy ... Lester Likens
Romy Rosemont ... Betty Likens
Catherine Keener ... Gertrude Baniszewski
Ari Graynor ... Paula Baniszewski
Scout Taylor-Compton ... Stephanie Baniszewski
Tristan Jarred ... Johnny Baniszewski
Hannah Leigh ... Shirley Baniszewski (as Hannah Leigh Dworkin)
Bradley Whitford ... Prosecutor
Michael O'Keefe ... Reverend Bill Collier
Carlie Westerman ... Marie Baniszewski
Michelle Benes ... Hope Orbach
Patricia Place Patricia Place ... Mrs. Doyle
Calvin Keet 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:

The true story of a shocking crime and a secret that wouldn't keep. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 December 2007 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

The Basement See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

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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:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The real life daughter, Paula Baniszewski, was released from prison and changed her name. She ended up getting a job as a guidance counselor aide in an Iowa school and worked there for 14 years before anyone found out about her real past. She was immediately fired. See more »

Goofs

When Ricky calls the police from a phone booth, he presses three buttons on the telephone, indicating that he has called 911. 911 was not established as an emergency number until 1967, but the scene takes place in 1965. See more »

Quotes

Sylvia Likens: Reverend Bill used to say, "For every situation God always has a plan." I guess I'm still trying to figure out what that plan was.
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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

96 Tears
Written by Rudy Martinez
Performed by ? and The Mysterians
Courtesy of ABKCO Music & Records, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
An important film for anyone who cares about kids
24 July 2008 | by azzshawSee all my reviews

This film cannot be described as a "good" film, because it's content is so shocking, but the acting is amazing and the way the story is told is subtle, A lot of what happened to her is left out, the director says it was his intention not to glorify what happened to her, I can understand why he held back in some of the details, if you do watch the film you will most likely be compelled to read more on the story, (type crime library into google its a good place with lots of valid information) I know this film gets criticised for not telling the whole story, but i feel it gives the victim some dignity, and as said before you can research more yourself if you choose to.

Its important that Sylvia and her story are not forgotten and this film pay tribute to her well in my opinion, but this film is not for the faint hearted. Ellen Page's performance is stunning as per usual.I would recommend this film to anyone who likes true stories, challenging films, and anyone who has read a child called it. And yes it is really a true story.


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