24 October 2014

Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969)
100 min.
Directed by Lee H. Katzin.
With Geraldine Page, Ruth Gordon, Rosemary Forsyth, Robert Fuller, Mildred Dunnock, Joan Hunnington, Peter Brandon, Michael Barbera.
A tour de force for character greats Page and Gordon - and grand guignol cinema at its finest.

Finding herself financially strapped after the death of her husband (the old bugger left her in debt), autumn-aged Mrs. Marrable (Page) takes in a series of elderly housekeepers.

Then she murders each one, buries the bodies in her pine garden, and siphons their personal bank savings into her own.

Voila! Instant 401K!

But she better watch out when feisty Mrs. Dimmock (Gordon, fresh off her run as creepy Satanist Minnie Castevet in Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby) arrives to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her good friend, one of Marrable's victims.

Soon, it's a battle of wits as two of the greatest character actresses who ever graced the screen fight for survival!

Aunt Alice is full bodied gothic fun throughout, with the glorious Page delivering a wonderfully maniacal performance and rivalled only by...the fire tongued and ultrasassy Gordon who matches her deranged benefactor. Tit for tat.

The memorable ending is both clever and wacky.

Our only regret: poor Dunnock doesn't get enough screen time, bless her heart. But such is the fate for Mrs. Marrable's poor victims.

Overall, an absolutely terrific counterpart to Robert Aldrich's What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962).

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