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Family Plot

4.1 out of 5 stars 123 customer reviews

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(Mar 06, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

When a wealthy woman unwittingly hires a con man and a phony psychic to find her missing heir, the results are diabolically funny in Alfred Hitchcock's tongue-in-cheek mystery thriller. Bruce Dern and Barbara Harris star as a conniving couple plotting to bilk an old lady out of her fortune by pretending to find her long-lost nephew (William Devane). Meanwhile, Devane, a larcenous jeweler, and his beautiful girlfriend (Karen Black) have kidnapped a rich Greek shipping magnate for ransom. Together they're on a nonstop merry-go-round of mystery, murder and mayhem that combines suspense and comedy for unforgettable entertainment.

Special Features

  • Plotting Family Plot
  • Storyboards: The Chase Scene
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Production Notes
  • Cast and Filmmakers
  • Recommendations

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Karen Black, Bruce Dern, Barbara Harris, William Devane, Ed Lauter
    • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
    • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
    • Subtitles: Spanish
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
      Parental Guidance Suggested
    • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
    • DVD Release Date: March 6, 2001
    • Run Time: 121 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B000055Y15
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,354 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Family Plot" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: VHS Tape
    This was Alfred Hitchcock's final film, and he was already in his late seventies when he made it. I think that at this point in his career, after fifty years of movie-making, he KNEW he no longer had to prove himself; his place was already set in history. Therefore, instead of making a film along the lines of Psycho, Vertigo, or Rear Window, he made a fun, lighter film along the lines of To Catch A Theif or The Lady Vanishes. The script of Family Plot was written by the same guy who wrote North By Northwest, which means there is a lot of clever, witty dialogue. The California locations are also a typical Hitchcock touch, and the fun car chase scene in the California hills is a classic. People expecting a SUSPENSE film will be disappointed, but I always felt that the "Master of Suspense" was a misleading title for Hitchcock, because his films are about much more than just suspense. Even so, Family Plot is not a masterpiece, but a treat for Hitchcock buffs. Hitchcock didn't go out with a bang, he went out with a wink, and this a great final "slice of cake" from a director who never took himself as seriously as we take him now.
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    Format: DVD
    Alfred Hitchock's Family Plot is not only his last movie, but highly enjoyable and the final chapter to a career full of brilliant filmmaking.

    Barbara Harris shines as Blanche Tyler, a phony psychic who hits it big when one of her wealthy clients offers her $10,000 to track down her dead sister's adopted child who is the last remaining heir to the millions she will pass along. With the help of her boyfriend George (Bruce Dern), the two set out to find the nephew, going by the name Arthur Adamson (played brilliantly by William Devane), who has blossomed into a prominant jeweler, diamond thief, and murderer. Eventually Blanche and George track down Arthur and his girlfriend Fran (Karen Black), but with a chilling conclusion that is pure Hitchcock magic.

    The film delights with its strong lead performances and witty dialogue. Although obviously not Hitchcock's best work, the film is solid, and keeps the viewer enthralled throughout.

    The DVD contains a digitally remastered version of the film, with improved audio and video from its original state. The bonus features on the disc include an imformative 48-minute documentary entitled "Plotting Family Plot," which chronicles the making of the film from pre-production to casting and filming. It also includes behind-the-scenes footage and stills as well as interviews with cast members Bruce Dern, Karen Black, William Devane, composer John Williams, and Hitch's daughter Pat Hitchcock O'Connell. In addition, there are two original theatrical trailers for the film, some storyboards for the car chase scene, and production notes, photographs, and posters.
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    Format: VHS Tape
    FAMILY PLOT has earned a place in cinematic history simply because it turned out to be Alfred Hitchcock's last production. While the film was a financial success, like most Hitchcock pictures, it got mixed reviews because many found it too comic in tone and not "suspenseful" enough to have been directed by the Master. It is true that FAMILY PLOT is far from being one of Hitchcock's best films, and it is not the "great" movie one might have expected from this director after the spine-chilling and sordid FRENZY, FAMILY PLOT's immediate predecessor - it is not an ambitious production. However, although the tone of the film is the lightest and funniest of any Hitchcock movie since THE LADY VANISHES in 1939, this does not mean that FAMILY PLOT is free of some disturbing undercurrents which linger in the mind and demand repeated viewings. Like all the characters in the movie, FAMILY PLOT is not what it seems to be. On the surface, we have a light, comic thriller involving a psychic (Blanche/Barbara Harris) and her cabbie/actor boyfriend, Lumley (Bruce Dern) who have been hired by a rich old woman to find her missing nephew, the heir to a huge fortune. The missing nephew turns out to be the thouroughly repellent Arthur Anderson (William Devane), a sociopath who, with the help of his girlfriend Fran (Karen Black), kidnaps important people and holds them for ransom. But Anderson is not just a thief - he is also a killer. When he realizes Blanche and Lumley are trying to find out information about him, and that they know of his hidden identity (which I won't reveal here), he assumes that they are undercover agents looking to expose him as a kidnapper. Of course, Blanche and Lumley know nothing about this, and thus put themselves in great danger without realizing it.Read more ›
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    Format: DVD
    Alfred Hitchcock was a grand tease and the more he teased the more his audiences loved it. The operative word was suspense and The Master had a genius for milking the action to maximum effect, keeping his faithful audience on the edge of its collective seat.

    Hitchcock bowed out on an interesting note by concluding his brilliant career with "Family Plot" in 1976. He was mightily assisted in his efforts by one of Hollywood's most skilled screenplay authors, Ernest Lehman. It was the second time they had teamed up, the earlier effort being one of Hitchcock's most successful films, the 1958 classic "North by Northwest" starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason.

    In "Family Plot" Hitchcock's grand tease was built around a variation of the theme that helped make "Vertigo" perhaps the director's finest effort. That impressive 1957 release was structured around a bogus effort on the part of mastermind criminal Gavin Elster, played by Tom Helmore, to convince retired policeman James Stewart that his putative wife, played by Kim Novak, was under the possessive influence of prominent nineteenth century San Franciscan Carlotta Valdes. Stewart is led on a bogus chase around San Francisco that includes a phony suicide attempt as Novak jumps into San Francisco Bay.

    Hitchcock, a film genius who knew how to make the most of a good theme, used this basic concept from "Vertigo" in the basic plot of "Family Plot" with one essential difference - this time the con artist was not seeking a foolproof way to kill his real wife by having a fall guy reduced to useful fodder in a criminal enterprise.
    Read more ›
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