What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969)

101 mins | Mystery, Melodrama | 23 July 1969

Director:

Lee H. Katzin

Producer:

Robert Aldrich

Cinematographer:

Joseph Biroc

Production Designer:

William Glasgow

Production Companies:

Associates & Aldrich Co., Inc., Palomar Pictures International, Inc.
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HISTORY

On 4 Oct 1967, Var announced that filmmaker Robert Aldrich planned to adapt Ursula Curtiss’s 1962 novel, The Forbidden Garden. The 17 Jul 1968 issue noted that the project was part of a five-picture deal between Aldrich’s production company, Associates & Aldrich Co., Inc., and ABC’s Palomar Pictures International. What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? was the third entry in an unofficial “trilogy” of melodramatic crime thrillers about aging women, including What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962, see entry), and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964, see entry), both of which were produced and directed by Aldrich.
       An 8 Aug 1969 DV item claimed that Geraldine Page was initially reluctant to accept the leading role, and only agreed after speaking at length with executive producer Peter Nelson over the telephone. With a star in place, the 23 Aug 1968 DV reported that Bernard Girard would direct, and filming was expected to begin 25 Sep 1968 in Arizona and New Mexico. However, items in the 13 Sep and 4 Oct 1968 DV indicated that principal photography was delayed until 23 Oct 1968, with location scenes shot in and around Tucson, AZ.
       Just one month later, the 25 Nov 1968 DV announced that Girard had left the project over disagreements with Aldrich, and Lee Katzin was hired as his replacement. The 10 Feb 1969 DV stated that Girard refused to be credited, while Katzkin planned to re-shoot a substantial portion of the film in Lancaster, CA. “Film Assignments” published in the 25 Sep and 17 Oct 1968 DV list several ... More Less

On 4 Oct 1967, Var announced that filmmaker Robert Aldrich planned to adapt Ursula Curtiss’s 1962 novel, The Forbidden Garden. The 17 Jul 1968 issue noted that the project was part of a five-picture deal between Aldrich’s production company, Associates & Aldrich Co., Inc., and ABC’s Palomar Pictures International. What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? was the third entry in an unofficial “trilogy” of melodramatic crime thrillers about aging women, including What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962, see entry), and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964, see entry), both of which were produced and directed by Aldrich.
       An 8 Aug 1969 DV item claimed that Geraldine Page was initially reluctant to accept the leading role, and only agreed after speaking at length with executive producer Peter Nelson over the telephone. With a star in place, the 23 Aug 1968 DV reported that Bernard Girard would direct, and filming was expected to begin 25 Sep 1968 in Arizona and New Mexico. However, items in the 13 Sep and 4 Oct 1968 DV indicated that principal photography was delayed until 23 Oct 1968, with location scenes shot in and around Tucson, AZ.
       Just one month later, the 25 Nov 1968 DV announced that Girard had left the project over disagreements with Aldrich, and Lee Katzin was hired as his replacement. The 10 Feb 1969 DV stated that Girard refused to be credited, while Katzkin planned to re-shoot a substantial portion of the film in Lancaster, CA. “Film Assignments” published in the 25 Sep and 17 Oct 1968 DV list several crewmembers who may have been involved in the production, but are not credited onscreen: George Tobin (production manager); Joe Jackman (camera operator); Gary Borin (assistant cameraman); John LaSalandra (construction supervisor); Adell Bravoc (script supervisor); Bill Hannah (gaffer); Marie Osborne, Ann Helfgott, Nat Tolmach, and Bob Labansat (costumes); Robert Franklin (transportation supervisor); Jack Albin (stills); Linn Unkefer (unit publicist); and Weston Webb (construction foreman). An 18 Nov 1968 LAT brief also announced the hiring of actor John Shanks, but he is not included in the cast.
       According to the 10 Jun and 24 Jun 1969 DV, Aldrich previewed the film at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, CA, where it received a positive reception, followed by a screening for ABC executives in New York City. As a result, the 11 Jul 1969 DV announced that the East Coast release date had been moved up to 23 Jul 1969, and the 31 Jul 1969 box-office charts reported opening week grosses of $552,045 from forty-eight New York City theaters. What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? opened 20 Aug 1969 in Los Angeles, CA, as reported by the 29 Jul 1969 LAT.
       The 11 Sep 1969 LAT noted that the picture was chosen to open the Cork Film Festival in Ireland on 16 Sep 1969, just ten days before its European premiere in London, England. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Aug 1968
p. 6.
Daily Variety
13 Sep 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
25 Sep 1968
p. 15.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1968
p. 10.
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1968
p. 12.
Daily Variety
25 Nov 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
10 Feb 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
10 Jun 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Jul 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
31 Jul 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
8 Aug 1969
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
18 Nov 1968
Section G, p. 25.
Los Angeles Times
29 Jul 1969
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
11 Sep 1969
Section E, p. 12.
Variety
4 Oct 1967
p. 11.
Variety
17 Jul 1968
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Casting
Prop master
Dial supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Forbidden Garden by Ursula (Reilly) Curtiss (New York, 1962).
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 July 1969
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 23 July 1969
Los Angeles opening: 20 August 1969
Production Date:
began 23 October 1968
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Metrocolor
Duration(in mins):
101
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After learning that her late husband's estate consists of little more than a stamp album, Claire Marrable moves to a remote desert section of Arizona and begins hiring a series of housekeepers, all of whom have considerable savings and no immediate family. She then fleeces them of their money, murders them, and buries them in her garden. Her latest employee is Mrs. Alice Dimmock, who is posing as a housekeeper in an attempt to locate her friend Miss Tinsley, who disappeared after going to work for Mrs. Marrable. Aiding the investigation is Alice's nephew, racing car builder Mike Darrah. Mike is attracted to Mrs. Marrable's neighbor, widow Harriet Vaughn, who lives with her nephew Jim and a dog that often digs in the Marrable garden. When Mike learns that Miss Tinsley withdrew her savings before disappearing, he warns Alice of imminent danger, but it is too late; Mrs. Marrable beats the housekeeper into unconsciousness during a furious struggle and puts her in a car, which she sinks in a nearby lake. The body is found just as Mrs. Marrable begins to suspect that Harriet has some knowledge of the murder; to protect herself, she drugs both the young widow and her nephew, then sets fire to their home. The next morning, however, Mrs. Marrable awakens to find the Vaughns rescued and her garden of corpses unearthed. Unable to cope with the final blow--that her husband's stamp album was actually worth $100,000--she smiles insanely at Mike and asks him to drive her to Tucson so she can look for work as a ... +


After learning that her late husband's estate consists of little more than a stamp album, Claire Marrable moves to a remote desert section of Arizona and begins hiring a series of housekeepers, all of whom have considerable savings and no immediate family. She then fleeces them of their money, murders them, and buries them in her garden. Her latest employee is Mrs. Alice Dimmock, who is posing as a housekeeper in an attempt to locate her friend Miss Tinsley, who disappeared after going to work for Mrs. Marrable. Aiding the investigation is Alice's nephew, racing car builder Mike Darrah. Mike is attracted to Mrs. Marrable's neighbor, widow Harriet Vaughn, who lives with her nephew Jim and a dog that often digs in the Marrable garden. When Mike learns that Miss Tinsley withdrew her savings before disappearing, he warns Alice of imminent danger, but it is too late; Mrs. Marrable beats the housekeeper into unconsciousness during a furious struggle and puts her in a car, which she sinks in a nearby lake. The body is found just as Mrs. Marrable begins to suspect that Harriet has some knowledge of the murder; to protect herself, she drugs both the young widow and her nephew, then sets fire to their home. The next morning, however, Mrs. Marrable awakens to find the Vaughns rescued and her garden of corpses unearthed. Unable to cope with the final blow--that her husband's stamp album was actually worth $100,000--she smiles insanely at Mike and asks him to drive her to Tucson so she can look for work as a housekeeper. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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