MOVIE REVIEW | ***SWANSONG WEEK*** Family Plot (1976)


“Isn’t it touching how a perfect murder has kept our friendship alive all these years.”

One of the very few directors who is recognisable to even the most casual movie fan.  Possibly the most famous and recognisable director of all time.  There’s a reason Alfred Hitchcock can lay claim to those titles, he made a lot of really, really, really good movies.  So how did this legend of cinema close out his monumentally impressive and influential career?  He did it with a real piece of shit.  He did it with Family Plot.

I normally make the effort to at least half assedly surmise the plot of as movie myself, but Family Plot is so messy and all over the shop, I really couldn’t be buggered trying to remember it all.  So I’ll refer to the good people at Wikipedia…

“A fake psychic, Blanche Tyler (Barbara Harris), and her boyfriend, George Lumley (Bruce Dern), attempt to locate the nephew of a wealthy and guilt-ridden elderly woman, Julia Rainbird (Cathleen Nesbitt). Julia’s deceased sister gave the baby boy up for adoption, but Julia now wants to make him her heir, and will pay Blanche $10,000 if he (Edward Shoebridge) can be found.  Shoebridge is thought to be dead, but George tracks down another criminal, Joseph Maloney (Ed Lauter), who paid for the tombstone over an empty grave.

Shoebridge murdered his adoptive parents, faked his own death and is now a successful jeweler in San Francisco known as Arthur Adamson (William Devane). He and his live-in girlfriend, Fran (Karen Black), kidnap millionaires and dignitaries, returning them in exchange for ransoms in the form of valuable gemstones.”

Here’s the thing, Family Plot is even less coherent than that rambling (and highly edited) synopsis would suggest.  It’s almost like Alfred Hitchcock was making a poor imitation of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  He piles on the intrigue, twists and reveals, but never bothers attaching them to a story or characters worth giving even the slightest of shits about.

If you’re only as good as your last at bat, than poor old Hitchcock’s legacy would have been well and truly destroyed by Family Plot. Luckily, a legacy is about more than your last at bat.  So if you haven’t seen Family Plot, keep it that way and treat yourself to the dozen or so stone cold classics on Hitchcock’s resume instead.

Family Plot
Directed By – Alfred Hitchcock
Written By – Ernest Lehman

Years Active:
1922 – 1976

Vertigo (1958)

Selected Major Achievements/Accolades:                             
BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award
Best Picture Academy Award – Rebecca (1940)

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