7.4/10
28,474
121 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
4,663 ( 84)
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

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 film was shot in chronological order to give the actors the experience of what Sylvia really went through. 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: [after they've been lashed, Sylvia sits down next to Jenny, hoping to comfort her] Come on, Jenny. It's not like we've never had a spanking before.
[Sylvia puts her hand on her sister's shoulder]
Sylvia Likens: That check's gonna come along, I swear.
[When Jenny doesn't answer, Sylvia puts her lips to her sister's head and strokes her hair]
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Crazy Credits

The final credit states "Sylvia Likens, 1949-1965". See more »

Connections

Referenced in The 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Walk Right In
Written by Gus Cannon and Hosea Woods
Performed by The Moments
Courtesy of Dominion Entertainment, Inc.
Under license from Spirit Music Group, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
sad film, good directing, worth watching.

This film was very sad, and the outcome; slightly unpredicted. It makes you look at the screen, confused and slightly horrified. The direction of the film is very good, somehow it makes you feel like you're involved, but like you cant be of any help, which I think reflects the feelings of the majority of the characters.

The influence of the Catherine Keener's character on her children obviously has a different effect by the end of the film. It is a very touching film, as it forces you to see the strength it takes to protect your family, from evils that are affecting you, and evidently you, yourself.

Ellen Page's Acting is on top-form in this film. She's very convincing. In fact, all the acting in this film is extremely good. And the amount of violence, isn't heavy at all, although some people find some scenes hard to watch. However, everything in the film, is crucial to the story. And ultimately, this is a story of a girl, who was stricken by misfortune. I believe her story was told well. But I'm sure there's more to it. Although, if hit by such grief, I wouldn't mind warning the world of such ill adventures.

Overall: this film should be given a metaphorical, standing ovation. As there are so many things about this piece, good; however intense, bitter and sorrowful, it is definitely one worth watching.


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