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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice (1969)

Category: Reviews

Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice The ‘60s produced many a crime thriller that remain alive by their quality, though underrated and mostly ignored by contemporary entertainment publications. Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice is such a film with an edgy plot and intense characters. It follows the life of a cunning widow Claire Marrable (played by Geraldine Page) who employs live-in housekeepers only to kill them for their savings. Her latest employee, and the next potential victim, is Mrs. Dimmock, aka Aunt Alice (played by Ruth Gordon) who appears not be the easy prey Mrs. Marrable has been burying without any trouble. As time goes by, Aunt Alice’s real identity and hidden motive are gradually revealed while her employer also starts suspecting that she is not what she appears—thus evoking dangerous consequences for both the women.

Set (and actually shot) in Tucson, Arizona, Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice is an engaging suspense drama with two of the most accomplished actresses (Page and Gordon) lighting the screen with excellence of expression in a situation getting more tense as the clock ticks. Their interaction, both in dialogue and gestures, is an attraction. The supporting cast is all eligible. Audiences are surely going to bite their finger at the big twist reserved for the ending; that is, if they don’t read the spoiler of the film’s storyline beforehand. 

This film is a classic example of the Hollywood era when creating suspense didn’t require global conspiracies and forced storytelling or exotic settings. The expertise of the writer and director shows in conveying the full impact of a thriller within an ordinary house with minimum number of characters and no technological crutches. Recommended for suspense lovers!