Sunday, December 6, 2009

Family Plot

Family Plot; Thriller comedy, USA, 1976; D: Alfred Hitchcock, S: Bruce Dern, Barbara Harris, Karen Black

Blanche earns her money by pretending to be a spiritual medium. One day, a rich old lady, Julia, gives her the assignment to find her nephew Edward. Blanche's lover George starts the search, but only finds Edward's name on a tombstone. He later discovers that Edward is still alive, but is hidden by an auto mechanic. With a reason - Edward killed his father and with his wife Fran kidnapped numerous rich people to get ransom out of them, so he doesn't want to be found. Edward and Fran capture Blanche in the basement, but George releases her and instead captures them.

For his last achievement, Alfred Hitchcock allowed his fans a relaxed and casual comedy, "Family Plot", where he didn't hint that it would be his final show, especially since the story is so much tamer than his previous film, "Frenzy", his most uncompromising thriller. At first confusing, "Family Plot" later skillfully blended two stories into one - George is searching for Edward to bring him the happy news about inheritance, but Edward doesn't want to be found because he became a kidnapper in the meantime - and has a few sympathetic jokes, like when Blanche, a fake medium, is changing her voice in order to fool her clients. Likewise, the screenplay by Ernest Lehman has some good details, like when George discovers that Edward and Harry apparently died simultaneously, but that one tombstone is, surprisingly, younger than the other. Some real sharpness and virtuoso touch wouldn't have been expletive, but the film's running time runs smoothly and the "interrupted" ending is real Hitchcock's trademark. And yet, when one looks at those end credits, it's hard not to think what Hitchcock would have directed if he was alive today.


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