23 October 2014

What's the Matter with Helen? (1971)
101 min.
Directed by Curtis Harrington.
With Debbie Reynolds, Shelley Winters, Dennis Weaver, Agnes Moorehead, Michael MacLarimour, Yvette Vickers, Helene Winston, Logan Ramsey.
Starring two top ladies of the cinema, this is a solid entry in the grand guignol cycle - and one of director Harrington's best horrors.

After their two sons are convicted of murder, mothers Adele (Reynolds) and Helen (Winters) relocate to California to begin life anew.

Assuming new identities, the two women open an acting school for little girls.

But it's not long before their past catches up to them...soon, a menacing stranger appears hellbent on vengeance, making threatening phone calls...watching...waiting for his chance.

Will the two women be able to deal with this new psychological torture? Or will they crack under the pressure?

The script by Henry Farrell, who had written the 1960 novel for Baby Jane, is full of neat twists.

Shelley Winters is in fine form here, in one of several interesting acting choices she made during this period. Likewise, top honors go to Debbie Reynolds as the Jean Harlow wannabe...she's just terrific.

Best scene: the memorable last scene with a frothing Winters at the piano...

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