Warner Archive brings another forgotten piece of film history back from their dark vaults with “Our Mother’s House.” So many great movies get lost in the shuffle of time and an always crowded box office. They never get the attention they deserve. Some just don’t get the proper media coverage or struggle to find the right audience, which I believe was the case when this was originally released in 1967.
In “Our Mother’s House,” Mrs. Hook (Annette Carell) dies after refusing to take medicine owing to her fundamentalist beliefs. She leaves her seven orphaned children to fend for themselves. Not wanting to be put in foster homes, the siblings bury their mother in the garden and successfully keep her death a secret. When their long-lost father (Dirk Bogarde) returns, it's initially a happy reunion, as he helps perpetuate the fraud. But soon he shows his true colors -- drinking, carousing and scheming to sell the house.
What a touching and disturbing film “Our Mother’s House” is. Every single actor onscreen is completely invested in their role. Dirk Bogarde makes you hate the scheming loser he portrays as he lies and mistreats the children. The child actors are incredibly talented and all establish their own individual characters so that the viewer truly empathizes with them.
I would consider “Our Mother’s House” to be a drama with sprinkles of thrills and chills here and there. The scenes of the oldest daughter (Pamela Franklin) trying to contact their dead mother via a sort of séance add a little supernatural flavor to the movie as well. They never really tell you whether she’s actually talking to the deceased or faking it to make the children listen to her. Franklin was perfect for the role and continued to freak people out as a clairvoyant in “The Legend of Hell House” a few years later.
“Our Mother’s House” is manufactured on demand and is only available on DVD. It contains a trailer for the film that runs a little over two and a half minutes long.
Although it’s unrated, “Our Mother’s House” would garner a PG at the least by today standards. It’s a pretty intense film that deals with death and the effects it has on children. The movie contains light profanity, brief adult situations, alcohol and smoking, and some frightening and intense sequences. The part where the mother is lying lifeless in bed with the children surrounding her is one of the most shocking and realistic depictions of death I’ve ever seen onscreen.
“Our Mother’s House” is another fine example of a classic film somehow being overlooked by cinema enthusiasts. It’s a brilliant family drama blended with just the right amount of effective creepiness to keep you in suspense. The child actors never failed to impress me as they moved from emotion to emotion. Here’s hoping that Warner Archive’s resurrection of the movie garners it some overdue attention.
“Our Mother’s House” is available now on DVD.