28 August 2000 | Queen Bea
Geraldine Page is the poster woman for psycho-biddies everywhere with her chilling performance in `Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice?'
What's a poor widow to do when her husband dies and leaves her penniless? Move to the Arizona desert, start a pine tree garden, and fertilize it with human mulch? Well.wouldn't you?? Geraldine Page has quite the green thumb as Mrs. Claire Marrable--the wicked widow with the pine tree fetish--in the chilling thriller "Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice?"
Grand dame Bette Davis once quipped: "Fasten your seatbelts, it's gonna be a bumpy night!" Bette, you are so right! If you remember Geraldine Page as the sweet li'l ol' lady from `Trip to Bountiful'.FUGETABOWTIT! Page does a 180 as she transmogrifies from helpless Southern widow to cool, calculating murderess with money and murder on the brain--and a means to achieve both. Page hits the bulls-eye with each scene. All of her nervous ticks are appropriately timed. She is at her best when putting on airs and verbally sparring with unarmed opponents. What a stellar performance! Geraldine, girlfriend, you is flawless!!
Many deliciously diabolical scenes abound, like when pesky canine Chloe threatens to dig up the dirt on her murderous past-time, Page as Marrable barks back: "I have not taken loving and diligent care of my garden to have it wrecked by this vagrant bitch!" Page's character is equally disenchanted with her new next door neighbor, Ms. Vaughn, whom she refers to as "crabgrass, never really quelled, only cropping up secretly and victoriously in another spot". The only one Page can stomach is Ruth Gordon as the inquisitive Aunt Alice--an undercover housekeeper on a mission to get to the root (haha) of all evil and discover the whereabouts of a friend last seen in Page's employ. But when she's tardy serving up cocktails, an impatient Geraldine rips her a new one: `Punctuality is essential to a gracious way of life, which I do not intend to give up on account of you.' Ruth returns fire: `If you wanna live like some Dutchess of Maharati, you better learn how to behave like one!' Geraldine shakes furiously from head to toe after a fiesty Ruth flat-out inquires: "How MANY women have you killed?" Try to suppress a snicker as you watch a pint-sized Ruthie scamper away from Page, who smugly stalks her throughout her secluded desert home to the beat of bongos and a psychotic musical score. Page's wicked laughter is sprinkled spuriously throughout the film to the backdrop of swaying pine trees-how ingenious! Not even Bette Davis cackled with such nefarious mirth as Baby Jane Hudson!
Praise be the master of psycho-shrews on film, Robert Aldrich--who directed the cult smash "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"--for producing this special gem, and a hearty kudos to Lee Katzin for his superlative directing skills. This movie will make you bow down and pray to the Church of Geraldine Page. So what are you waiting for? Rent it tonight.and START PRAYING!!