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on November 20, 2013
I watched this movie several times and for some reason the only thing I can remember is Barbara Hershey's weird accent (probably because I've read the book about 200 times - I'm on my third hard copy - and my remembrance of the book blocks out the movie). So I decided to watch it and pay attention.
As I said, Hershey's syrupy sweet accent and whatever she is trying to do (putting the lift at the end of her sentences as if she's always asking a question, or for verification or permission from whomever she's talking to) is off-putting and distracting. I think she was wrong for the part. I never forgot: that's Barbara Hershey.
The movie differs from the book in several ways: the name changes; Jackie Ponder, their minister, is totally left out (she probably wanted to be); and they have the murder happening in January 1980 instead of when it really happened, June 1980 (remember, Alisa just HAD to go to that swimming lesson with her OWN swimsuit?). Also, they left out the affair Candy had with another man, after Allan. When Allan takes Candy to lunch, he remarks that she's always up and has a good attitude. She replies that her family moved a lot since her father was in the Army, and she learned that you could not let people see you unconfident or afraid. That conversation did not take place. It's as though it's an excuse for the way she acted all the time, that she wasn't really that self-confident.
in the axe scene, it has Peggy swinging the axe right at Candy's head, and Candy moves out of the way just in time. I don't recall that in the book - I seem to remember the author noting that if Betty had really wanted to kill Candy, she would have actually hit her in the head, instead it seemed that she deliberately missed. Also Peggy said "Shhhh" when she was still standing up and Candy was arguing with her. In the book, the "shhh" was a sound that came out because Betty was in the process of dying (on the floor).
It doesn't show Candy wiping up the blood with towels, which she said she did in the book. She seems in a complete daze when she leaves the house, as though she has no idea what just happened or where she is - yet she has sense enough to drive straight to her house and change her clothes.
They changed the flip-flops she was wearing to actual blue tennis shoes (which she lied and said that she was wearing - she changed into those after the murder before she went back to church). Well, I guess she wouldn't be wearing flip flops in January with a winter coat. But who has vacation bible school and swimming lessons in January?
One thing I noticed was that after the first session (in the book, it was psychological testing) with the psychiatrist, her lawyer said something to the effect of "So she's not crazy?" And the doctor responded something to the effect of that if he thought she was a sociopath, he would have nothing to do with her. Since a sociopath is not "crazy" I wondered if he really had said that. I looked it up in the book, and he did say it. However, it wasn't prefaced with her attorney asking if she was crazy or not. It was a stand-alone remark. In my opinion, Candy does have many of the traits of a sociopath, but she probably knew to tell them what they wanted to hear.
The hypnotism scenes were sickening, will all of Hershey's silly babyish crying and whining. That looked very fake.
However, the movie subtly brings up these:
Candy wants everyone to like her, and she acts like little Miss Helpful, however, once she's arrested, the real Candy shows up. She refuses to let anyone to see her "upset" (weak or crying). She has a smirk and a disdainful attitude toward anyone in law enforcement (once she's arrested) or at the courthouse.
The hypnotist remarks on her saying that she is a good wife and mother, but how does cheating on her husband make her a good wife and mother? Candy responds, unashamed, that she isn't perfect. (This conversation did not happen in the book - the doctor did not ever criticize Candy).
And the only time Candy can come up with that she was as angry as she was while killing Betty, was when she was four years old and lost a race to a water pump with an older boy, which made her so angry, that she took the glass jar (that was to be filled up with water by the winner of the race) and broke it against the pump, which caused a shard of glass to cut her between the eyes. Her mother then takes her to the hospital (was it that bad of a cut?) where she screams and carries on, which embarrasses her mother. Her mother tells her "Shhh, what will all the people in the waiting room think?" Candy did not care what they thought, and she continued to scream....so, it's not as though she repressed her feelings. Tell her not to scream and she's going to anyway. She loses a race and completely loses her temper. She thinks Betty tells her "Shhh," well, kill Betty for that. Also, Betty was ordering her not to see Allan. How dare she?
Another Candy personality trait pointed out in this film is that she only becomes "ashamed" of something once she's caught.
The ending was also changed, showing Candy having a conscience and being disturbed by having killed Peggy (Betty Gore), even though the doctor tells her she had no choice - but it's as though she realizes she DID have a choice and killed her anyway. Which never happened in real life. She never saw Dr. Fason after the last session which I believe was before the trial. Perhaps they wanted to placate the viewers that there was some justice or lesson learned, but in reality Candy went on her merry way (but still angry that this had "happened" to her). She was more like the Candy on the stand, saying that she had anger toward Peggy (Betty) because she had caused her to lose everything and put her in that position (of having to kill her). Still just thinking of herself only. The lawyer reminds her that she and Allan had put Peggy in that position by having an affair and Candy grudgingly agrees.