7.3/10
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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
3,630 ( 219)
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:

This has been the most terrible crime ever committed in the state of Indiana 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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

Gertrude turns over her matchbook to strike a match. In 1965, the striking strip was still on the front of a matchbook, not the back. See more »

Quotes

Ricky Hobbs: [sees her "escaping"] Sylvia.
Sylvia Likens: [sobbing, whimpering and cringing as he comes near her] No, no, please. Please don't, please.
Ricky Hobbs: No, no, no, I'm not gonna hurt you. I swear to God, I promise, I promise. Look, I'm sorry. I didn't know what the hell I was doing, all right? Look, you gotta believe me, please. Please. You wanna get out of here? You wanna go? Let's go.
[helps Sylvia up]
Ricky Hobbs: Come on. You're all right.
[they go to the car and Ricky gets in after helping Sylvia in]
Ricky Hobbs: Where are we going?
Sylvia Likens: [...]
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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

Walk in Jerusalem
Written by Mahalia Jackson
Performed by Mahalia Jackson
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
I couldn't move...
29 August 2008 | by RitchCSSee all my reviews

I collect movies...ALL kinds of movies and have several thousand in my collection...which means I see thousands of movies every year. I'd never heard of "An American Crime" until Netflix put it into my queue as a recommendation. I knew absolutely nothing about the film except for the cast. I'd watch Catherine Keener do a Dairy Queen commercial and give her a standing ovation. Forty minutes into the film, I became aware that I was clutching the arms on my chair. I was short-winded as I'd been holding my breath but didn't know it. I almost cheated and ran the movie fast forward just to see how it would end as I was terrified by what I was viewing. This movie should have been hailed by critics and had long lines outside the box office. Ellen Page and Catherine Keener were superb as was the entire cast...not even a 'walk-on' was miscast. James Franco, stepped out of the box to play an unlikeable character as did Jeremy (Peter Pan) Sumpter. If you love good movies, heavy drama, and fantastic acting...this is one to put on your MUST SEE list. When the movie finally did end. I just cut off my TV set. I couldn't watch anything of equal magnitude, no matter what was showing on any channel. One of the best films of all time...and the most horrifying in my entire collection...bar none!


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