Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
NUTCRACKER: MONEY, MURDER AND MADNESS
The true story of Frances Shreuder (Lee Remick), a women who decided that she needed her father's money to fund her elaborate lifestyle, and would do anything to get it, including outright thievery and embezzlement. But when she fears that Daddy (G. D. Spradlin) might cut Frances out of his will entirely, she cooks up a plot to have her sons kill him off. [The title refers to the fact that Shreuder managed to get a seat on the board of directors of the ballet, and her daughter was an aspiring dancer as well.] While Lee Remick is not perhaps the perfect choice for such a demanding role, she does give a credible and effective performance as the most monster mother of them all. Tate Donovan [Nancy Drew] and Frank Military are both excellent as Frances' deeply troubled sons, one of whom winds up in a mental institution. Inga Swenson [Advise and Consent] is excellent as Frances' outraged sister Marilyn, who has to watch as her mother, who always favored Frances, cuddles up to the woman responsible for her husband's death. As the mother, a superb Elizabeth Wilson [The Tunnel of Love] almost walks off with the movie. There is also very nice work from John Glover as Frances' friend, Dick; G. D. Spradlin as her father; and Tony Musante as her first ex-husband and the father of her boys. Four and a half hours long, in three installments, this has not a boring moment in it. Based on a book by Shana Alexander. Another book about the case, At Mother's Request, was also made into a telefilm.
Verdict: Fascinating look at truly twisted people. ***.