|Martha Hyer and Don Ameche|
Young Susan Shelley (Susan Gordon) gets out of a "convent" for the mentally disturbed three years after the death of her mother, Jessica (Zsa Zsa Gabor), in a fire in their mansion. Her father, Edward (Don Ameche), has been traveling the world with his new viper-like wife, the former governess, Francine (Martha Hyer), and now they are nearly broke. Another member of this highly dysfunctional household is Jessica's cousin, Anthony (Maxwell Reed), who was disfigured in the fire and will inherit money if both Edward and his daughter should happen to die, something which Francine is also happily aware of. But the murder victim may be more unexpected than you imagine. Picture Mommy Dead -- one of a number of thrillers made by director Gordon, who had previously specialized in movies about giant people and monsters -- isn't that good, but it has a fairly interesting script that just misses the mark. A big problem with the picture is that Susan Gordon, the director's daughter, is too inexperienced (despite 25 previous credits!) to handle such a difficult and demanding role, although she gets an E for Effort. Zsa Zsa appears in a few flashbacks and isn't given anything too demanding to do, while Hyer plays her bitchy part with a little zest but little real skill. Ameche [Slightly French] comes off better, but Maxwell Reed of Daybreak is only somewhat effective. Wendell Corey delivers the goods in his one scene, playing a lawyer who is so tactlessly blunt with everyone that it's a wonder nobody murders him right then and there.
Verdict: Not terrible, but Gordon probably should not have cast his daughter. **1/2.