Picture Mommy Dead (1966)   Leave a comment

Picture Mommy Dead poster

Zsa Zsa Gabor lies on the floor beside her bed.  A fire rages behind her.  She won’t be coming down to breakfast.

“Those effects are special, darling.”

Cut to Edward Shelley (Don Ameche) picking up his daughter from the convent/sanitarium where she’s been staying since Mom bought it.  Edward and Francene (She’s not my mother!), his wife, want to bring Susan home to the family mansion.  The house, empty since Susan’s mother (Zsa Zsa) perished in the blaze, is about as inviting as a mausoleum.  The old, but expensive furniture stands as a testament to the taste of whoever bought it in 1740.

Immediately, we notice Susan’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  Everyone who asks her a question has to repeat it at least twice.  Perhaps it’s the cast’s attempt at acting or the writer’s at padding the script, but since Susan looks so dim, it may just be a comprehension thing.

“Can I get milk from a duck?”

As the happy group arrive at the house, Lawyer Clayborn (Wendell Corey) explains the conditions of Susan’s dead mother’s will.  Welcome home!  Susan gets everything, but not until she’s 25.  Since that’s years away and Edward and Francene (Martha Hyer) have already run through their inheritance, they ask Susan if they can sell the furniture and make some ready cash.  It’s a sweet homecoming.


To SUMMARIZE, everyone in the house has a reason to get rid of Susan from her father and step-mother, to some guy with a burned face and a hawk who lives in their house for some reason.  At some point, the film becomes a sort of HUSH…HUSH, SWEET DAUGHTER except Susan lacks the charisma and charm of crazy Bette Davis.  She spends most of the film staring blankly ahead with her mouth open in a state of annoying confusion.  Don Ameche seems baffled too.  The only cast member I believe is Martha Hyer’s gold-digging former housekeeper who took a raise in pay, but had to sleep with the boss to do it.

“My hawk understands me.”

Robert Sherman (TOO LATE THE HERO) wrote this sloppy script and Bert I. Gordon (EMPIRE OF THE ANTS) directed.  Despite the stellar title and the possibilities, the mostly lackluster cast and wooden writing drag the film down.  At 82 minutes, PICTURE MOMMY DEAD was too long.


Oh yes!  Susan had the ugliest stuffed animals ever created.  She even had a beatnik doll and a clown.  Just stop.



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