Snowbound – Rediscovering ‘You’ll Like My Mother’ (US 1972 – 92 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - December 04, 2017
Snowbound – Rediscovering ‘You’ll Like My Mother’ (US 1972 – 92 mins)

It must feel immensely unnerving to be an isolated outsider in an isolated environment. That’s how heavily pregnant Patty Duke’s character must have felt, after arriving on the doorstep of her dead husband’s unwelcoming family, in the forgotten 1972 thriller ‘You’ll Like My Mother’.

After her husband is killed in Vietnam, heavily pregnant Francesca Kinsolving decides to pay a surprise visit to his family in a remote part of Minnesota. When her mother-in-law (Rosemary Murphy) tells Francesca she wants nothing to do with her or her unborn baby, Francesca makes for a quick exit, only to be held up by a blizzard. While snowbound and alone, it’s not long before she discovers that her dead husband’s family have a few dark and deadly secrets, and that Francesca and her baby may be in imminent mortal danger.

I’m a sucker for creepy films within a snowy setting, and the forgotten little creepfest ‘You’ll Like My Mother’ doesn’t disappoint. An underrated and tense four-hander, it features great performances from the entire cast. 25 year old Patty Duke is terrific as the sympathetic Francesca, ten years after her sublime Oscar-winning turn as Helen Keller in ‘The Miracle Worker’ (’62). Perhaps best known for playing the kindly neighbour in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (’62), Rosemary Murphy is also great as the cold and calculating Mrs Kinsolving. 21 year old Richard Thomas was very convincing as Murphy’s unhinged son, and newcomer Sian Barbara Allen is memorable as her mentally-handicapped daughter, Kathleen.

Director Lamont Johnson had earlier made the WWII sleeper ‘The McKenzie Break’ (’70), and later the wonderful Burt Lancaster western ‘Cattle Annie and Little Britches’ (’81), before winning an Emmy for the mini-series ‘Lincoln’ (’88) starring Sam Waterston. Writer Jo Heims had previously written the screenplay for the more well-known thriller ‘Play Misty for Me’ (’71), and wrote the script for the cult TV movie ‘Nightmare in Badham County’ (’76) with Chuck Connors.

The ending could have been more exciting, and was over a bit too quickly, but at least it wrapped up the story nicely. A cold looking film full of cold characters, ‘You’ll Like My Mother’ is a neat mystery thriller with some nice twists and turns. It may feel a bit slow moving for some, but I think it’s a minor gem, and one that befits that oft-quoted horror tagline: “the family that slays together, stays together”.

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