Family Plot is Alfred Hitchcock’s final film before his death, starring Karen Black, Bruce Dern, Barbara Harris and William Devane.
Story features two couples that cross paths in most weird way: one is a fake psychotic and her cab driving boyfriend, other a pair of professional thieves and kidnappers. Conflict begins because of a missing heir that connects both couples.
First of all, we’re talking about one of the best directors since forever; this movie was his best way of saying goodbye. I couldn’t imagine any other movie but this black comedy style full of Hitchcock’s directorial landmarks and plot devices he already used in his other movies.
It was something new, we’re not used to watching comedy when it comes to Hitchcock, he certainly delivered it here and did it perfectly.
Film delivers everything that's supposed to when you watch Hitchcock's movie, it has funny moments filled with tension and plot twist. You splash in, waiting for truth to come out and the only thing you have to do is to connect the dots, which is really entertaining.
Big connection between characters is plotting: Julia Rainbird convinced her sister to give up her son, as a child Edward Shoebridge plotted to kill his adoptive parents, Blanche and George find themselves in the middle of that family plot.
As a ‘’fake’’ psychic, Blanche’s big assignment was to find Julia’s nephew and she enlists her boyfriend’s help who works as cab driver. During that mission he almost runs down a woman and since this is Hitchcock and anything is possible, camera keeps following the woman and we get to meet the second couple: thieves and kidnappers. That’s when we realize that there must be really big connection between both plots. There are great cut scenes that go from one couple to another, eventually George connected dots and realize the missing nephew is alive after all even though he saw his tombstone, his investigation brings him to supposed Edward Shoebridge, who happens to be Edward’s childhood friend who helped him commit the murder of his adoptive parents.
All of these leads to really suspense scenes followed by few comic reliefs and eventually ending that is expected, it makes it worth our time.
Most interesting part about camera movements is surely first and last scene that end the same way: close up of Blanche.
Blanche wink in the end might suggest Hitchcock goodbye and farewell to loyal audience, he brought another masterpiece that proves the theory that movie industry changed a lot since his previous movies.
As audience we end up fascinated with William Devane’s portrayal, especially when he begins talking about plan to kill his adoptive parents, it all started as a perfect murder, very familiar trope in Alfred Hitchcock’s universe.
Characters are often obsessed with definition of perfect murder and its ideology, planning to commit the perfect crime and expect to get away with it but there’s always at least one character that knows human psychology and makes them pay.
The Ordinary Person
Blanche and George are two normal people who try earning money with their plots and fake psychic abilities, this time it makes them end up in such big mess that only happens to ordinary people.
A tradition Hitchcock started with blonde female heroines is present in his last film too, his preference is possibly due to blonde girls being seen as innocent human beings rather than suspects in crime.
Who would ever suspect Janet Leigh of stealing money with such innocent look?
I think Barbara Harris is true heroine of this movie, she has all that it takes to be main character that survives in the end. She isn't perfect, but her only fault was to get mixed up with wrong people because of her urge to get rich.
Often plot device Hitchcock used in most of his films, it describes a character that is pure evil, villain and yet it’s hard to hate him.
William Devane plays that kind of character who didn’t think twice before plotting to kill his adoptive parents.
This was another case of car chase scene, this time Blanche and George are protagonists of one of the most terrifying scenes. They try to survive while driving the car moments after Maloney cut their breaks off.
I felt such euphoria during the scene, it really gives you impression that you are actually there with them, it has a lot of suspense and its nicely filmed, it gives you chills for a moment.
Legendary John Williams was in charge of music, creating suspense and lighter music for darker scenes.
John Williams's mastermind definitely fits the movie, he did great job capturing the magic on screen that's followed by his music, it fits great with each character, it finds it's place perfectly.