Tired of taking care of his feeble grandmother (Mona Washbourne, My Fair Lady), a lazy bum (Paul Nicholas, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) and his girlfriend (Vanessa Howard, Girly) come up with a bizarre plan to kill granny and inherit her estate.
Reaction & Thoughts:
Although Amicus Studios has become synonymous with British horror, the film company did occasionally delve into other genres. What Became of Jack and Jill? is like an extended episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents or Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: a morality tale disguised as a twisty thriller.
Directed by Bill Bain (his first and only theatrical film) from a script by Roger Marshall (And Now the Screaming Starts) based on Laurence Moody’s 1969 novel The Ruthless Ones, What Became of Jack and Jill? pleasantly surprised me. I expected to dislike it, but ended up liking it quite a bit.
What Became of Jack and Jill? begins like dozens of movies about people trying to drive a relative insane in order to collect a beefy inheritance (how many times have we encountered that story?). But the movie deviates far enough from the formula, creating a few surprises along the way. I liked how the film pits baby-boomers against the greatest generation in a symbolic battle for survival — existential angst is a major part of the story, and this alone makes the movie interesting.
This is essentially a three-character movie and the lead actors are very good. Actor & singer Paul Nicholas, Vanessa Howard and beloved stage actress Mona Washbourne are excellent. I particularly liked Washbourne’s performance as the seemingly dim-witted granny who has a few tricks under her sleeve.
What Became of Jack and Jill? has a few nice pop songs by the British band ‘Whistler.’ The group released a few singles before disappearing into oblivion. The songs are a nice and odd element that works well within the context of the film. The incidental music was written by Carl Davis (The French Lieutenant’s Woman).
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Amicus regretted making What Became of Jack and Jill? It’s possible that the film company didn’t know how to promote a movie that doesn’t fall into a distinct category. This is a strange and entertaining thriller. I much prefer Amicus’s horror anthologies, but the idea behind the film is interesting. The film presents an ugly picture of the counterculture, and that’s something you don’t see very often. Color, 93 minutes, Rated R.