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

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Ruth Gordon and Geraldine Page
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO AUNT ALICE? (1969). Director: Lee H. Katzin. 

Newly widowed Claire Marrabel (Geraldine Page) discovers that her husband left her with virtually no assets and a lot of debts, so what's a poor woman to do? She kills her housekeepers (we learn this even before the opening credits) at her Arizona dwelling and takes their assets for herself. But she has a formidable adversary in her new companion and potential victim, Alice (Ruth Gordon), who is there, unbeknownst to her employer, to find out what happened to a friend of hers who disappeared. With adept and amusing performances from the two leads, as well as a lively physical fight between the two, it's a shame that they are wasted in a movie as mediocre as Aunt Alice? The film was produced by Robert Aldrich, co-produced by his company, and was filmed at the Aldrich studios, but the role Aldrich most needed to play was as director, as Lee H. Katzin fails to imbue the film with much tension or suspense. The climax occurs nearly fifteen minutes before the comparatively flat wind-up. A dull sub-plot concerning a burgeoning relationship between duller characters played by Robert Fuller [The Brain from Planet Arous] and Rosemary Forsyth only pads out the running time. Anyone expecting another What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?  or Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte will be sorely disappointed.

Verdict: Even "aging actresses" deserve better than this. **.


angelman66 said...

LOL, Bill, I like this one a bit more than you do, being a huge fan of Ruth Gordon and the famously scene-stealing Geraldine Page. I really really enjoy the cat-and-mouse game in their scenes together, as you do note, they have great chemistry. The rest of the picture is silly and campy and without much suspense, as you point out--perhaps if Aldrich had directed it would be a little more taut...oh well.

This movie is out of print and the dvd is for sale on Amazon for $209!! Even I don't love it that much. Good thing my best friend has a copy and can watch it every couple years LOL

William said...

$209! I'm glad I found this on youtube! Out of curiosity I checked and there are DVDs of the movie on ebay for around twenty dollars, a lot better than two hundred!

angelman66 said...

Thank you, I am tempted now!!