7.4/10
28,677
122 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
4,756 ( 252)
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

Ellen Page literally starved herself for her role as Sylvia. When director Tommy O'Haver noticed she was looking thinner, he asked her if she was eating and she replied "No, because Sylvia wasn't being fed." See more »

Goofs

In a scene set in 1965, a character rushes into a phone booth and dials for an operator without inserting a coin. The free operator call feature was not instituted until many years later. See more »

Quotes

Gertrude Baniszewski: You know what it's like to be sick, Sylvia. I've been sick for so long, too. I can't... discipline my kids they was I should. I punish them I know, but... sometimes with my medicine I gets so I don't know what I'm doing.
[begins to cry]
Gertrude Baniszewski: And I care for them so much. Paula, the thing is... Paula's a lot like me. I had her when I was just about your age. Then Stephanie. Then all the others. Then John left... And here I am on medicine, doing whatever I can to keep my family together. I want ...
[...]
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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

My opinion - Does not portray how horrible this crime really was.
30 June 2009 | by wayneswordsSee all my reviews

I rate the movie a 7, as it does introduce individuals to this most horrible series of events. However, in my opinion the movie does not portray the abuse of Sylvia Likens to the extent to fully represent the horror and suffering of her torture. In researching this case, I find the movie "light" on the true depth of this crime. Sylvia Likens had at least 100 burns, contusions, and cuts on her body when she was found. She was starved, placed in scalding baths, and suffered extreme and prolonged abuse. I'm not voyeuristic, but I think that the film really lacks the details of the sequence and scope of events to provide the emotional and intellectual impact that the Likens case calls for. In contrast, "The Girl Next Door" appears to go a little too far in portraying a couple of events that may not have happened (I hope!) - but I believe that "The Girl Next Door" will leave you with a better sense of the true nature of the tragic murder of this young girl.


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