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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Family Plot (1976)

A spiritualist (Barbara Harris) of questionable ability and her cab driver boyfriend (Bruce Dern) attempt to track down the missing heir of the Rainbird fortune. Meanwhile, a San Francisco jeweler (William Devane) and his lover (Karen Black) are engaged in a series of kidnappings for which the ransom are diamonds. While seemingly unrelated, the stories converge. After the rather dark and intense thrillers Alfred Hitchcock made in the 1960s and 1970s, the swan song of the great Master Of Suspense is a return to the playful and witty Hitchcock "lite" films of the 1950s such as TO CATCH A THIEF and NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Based on the novel THE RAINBIRD PATTERN by Victor Canning, Hitchcock and screenwriter Ernest Lehman turned the novel's darker tone into a more comedic friendly film. Pleasant and charming as it is, it's definitely second tier Hitchcock (that's not meant as a negative) that could have used some tighter editing and the film's rear projection work was painfully out of date even in 1976. Harris, in particular, is delightful. The underscore is by John Williams. With Cathleen Nesbitt, Katherine Helmond, William Prince, Ed Lauter, Edith Atwater and Marge Redmond.

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