Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Haworth, Walter and Parker camp it up

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (1972 telefilm). Director: John Llewellyn Moxey.

Okay, get this. An old man lives alone in a mansion with his second wife, who was once accused of poisoning her first husband. Now the old man is convinced his wife is trying to poison him, and he's asked his four daughters to come home for Christmas to help him. However, he has been estranged from his daughters for years because most of them think he is responsible for their mother's suicide due to his affair with wife # 2. Then the murders begin ... Now add to that great premise the fact that the old man is Walter Brennan, his second wife is Julie Harris, and the daughters are played by Eleanor Parker (old faithful), Sally Field (li'l adorable), Jill Haworth (sharp-tongued sophisticate) and Jessica Walter (pill-popping dipsomaniac) -- and that the script is by Joseph Stefano, who wrote the screenplay for Hitchcock's Psycho -- and you've got an ABC "Movie of the Week" to reckon with! Frankly, with all that talent one would have hoped that Home for the Holidays would have been a lot more memorable, but it is an engaging and well-acted [by all] bit of grotesquerie that holds the attention and has a certain degree of atmosphere [of the "it was a dark and stormy night" variety]. George Tipton contributed an interesting score. One of the actors, however talented, sort of gives the game away with an overly, shall we say,  dynamic performance, but the ending will still be a surprise to some. John Fink plays the cute doctor who lives in town and knows all the women.

Verdict: And you think your family holidays are bad ...! **1/2.
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