7.4/10
29,148
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
Reviews
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 child's punishment that became a woman's crime. 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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Real pictures of Sylvia can be found online, mainly crime scene photos. See more »

Goofs

(at around 1 min) When Gertrude Baniszewski burns Sylvia Likens with a cigarette on the top of her hand, Sylvia screams (flash to outside) the view from the outside of the house shows a fan in the front window of the house then, Sylvia screams again and the next view from outside the house there is no fan in the window. 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

Hi Henry's Triumphal March
Written by Orion R. Farrar
Performed by Tangley Calliope
Courtesy of Marion Roehl Recordings
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
it was very upsetting
29 November 2008 | by aujicjSee all my reviews

This movie was good, acting was excellent, filming was excellent and you are quickly drawn into the story so that all around you is no longer there. Yet when you see the things that happen to this poor girl your eyes don't want to stop watching but in the back of your mind you're thinking why? Then you remember during portions of this movie that it was based on actual events and when the credits roll you're hit with this overwhelming since of sadness and grief that makes you want to tell your parent or parents that you love them and that you're thankful for them. While your mind processes what you've just seen it's hard because it's so shocking and real and you want to shout at the top of your lungs SAVE THIS GIRL! I guess it could just be me but it had powerful emotional effect on me. I've seen other movies about true stories but other than Schindler's List nothing had such an impact until now. There was a Lifetime movie that made me angry and sickened me that turned out was fictional that I wished they would have said before the movie began its not based on actual events. My advice is if you think you can handle the emotions you'll feel after this movie then watch it. If you don't think you can, then watch it with another person. The overall sad and disturbing fact was this movie was based on a true story. I guess that makes it all the more scary.


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