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USA 1976
Directed by
Alfred Hitchcock
120 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Family Plot

Hitchcock’s final film (his 53rd) has a intriguing idea at its heart – that of the irony of a career criminal, Edward Shoebridge (William Devane), going to great lengths to conceal his past when his past is the very thing that will bring him the wealth for which he is willing to commit his crimes. It is however buried in an overlong, verbose script (by Ernest Lehman who had scripted North By Northwest, !959) and some rather unconvincing acting, notably by Barbara Harris as Madame Blanche, a fake psychic who with her taxi-driving boy friend, George (Bruce Dern), is trying to track down Shoebridge for a wealthy dupe who has offered her a $10,000 reward to find him.

There is one outstanding moment early in the film when Hitchcock creates a wonderful visual link between pursued and pursuer with a crane shot that swoops down across George’s taxi and picks up a mysterious woman crossing the road who, unbeknownst to George, is Shoebridge’s girlfriend (Karen Black). As usual Hitchcock has fun with the project including an amusing, self-reflexive  dig at the etiquette of church-goers (Hitchcock was a practicing Catholic) in a famous scene that involve the kidnapping of a bishop during Mass, but beyond that the film unnecessarily draws out its conventional thriller plott.




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