Die! Die! My Darling

The overacting Olympics
Silvio Narizzano
Tallulah Bankhead, Stefanie Powers, Donald Sutherland, Peter Vaughan
The Setup: 
Woman goes to stay with the mother of her dead fiancée.

A member of my [now-deceased] message board recommended this as one of the best things he watched last year, and it sounded like a hoot, so to the top of my list it went. He afterward reminded me that I tend not to like anything he recommends.

We open with these neat credits that show colorized photos of a cat playing with a mouse. During this time we notice that this is a Hammer Film [and I generally do not like Hammer Films], that it starts Tallulah Bankhead [it is actually her last movie], Stefanie Powers, who later found a role to suit her meager talents in Hart to Hart, features a young Donald Sutherland, and has a screenplay by Richard Mathieson, of I Am Legend and The Incredible Shrinking Man.

So this couple, Pat and Alan, arrive in England for a vacation. Note the horrific continuity around 2:48 when Alan pulls off the freeway seemingly directly into a small parking lot. Pat [that’s Stefanie] was engaged by Mrs. Trefoile’s son, and thinks it’s only right to pay her a visit. Her boyfriend tries to dissuade her, but she insists. So she takes the car and pops round to Mrs. Trefoile’s house.

So she arrives. Mrs. Trefoile greets her, scolding her for not visiting sooner, and insists that she must stay the night. Pat wasn’t planning to, but Trefoile is making her feel so guilty for not showing up sooner… Trefoile informs her that she used to be a model but now eschews vanity, and that’s why there are no mirrors in the entire house. She is also hyper-religious and bids Pat join them for a service before dinner, where Trefoile reads scripture for hours and hours while Pat’s stomach loudly gurgles. Bored out of my skull, this is where I turned the movie off for the first time. It then sat untouched in my apartment for a month.

The next morning it’s off to church again, and on the way back Trefoile informs Pat that even though her son died, he and Pat are still spiritually married, and Pat is never to marry or have a boyfriend again. Pat finally tells the old bat off, and when she gets to her room to pack, she finds Trefoile has locked her in, “for her own good.” The servants are hiding Pat’s car in the garage and it looks like Trefoile intends to keep her there a long time. This is where I turned the movie off completely and decided that I didn’t want to see the rest. A friend of mine was over at the time, and he wanted to see some of Tallulah’s performance, and even he couldn’t stand the boredom. There was a while where I thought I would at least fast-forward through the rest, but then I decided not to even bother.

This is just not my kind of movie. First, not much is happening and what is happening seems entirely predictable. Second, poor Stefanie Powers could not act if it meant saving the life of her own child. Third, I just don’t find women throwing scenes and overemoting as enthralling as others do.

So this is just me. A brief sampling from the IMDb informs us that most people find this movie a total hoot, mostly because of Tallulah’s ferocious scenery-chewing. They like the fact that Stefanie can’t act and enjoy it. And those two things combined with the hysterical attitude of it all makes this a favorite—so keep all that in mind, most people like it much, much more than I did.

But like I said, it sat in my house for over a month and I couldn’t generate any interest in watching the rest of it—not to mention that it was disrupting the flow of my Netflix queue—so back it went. Ugh.

Should you watch it: 

If you’re into women overemoting and throwing big scenes.