You’ll Like My Mother Blu-ray Review

Patty Duke leads this intense psychological thriller about a mother’s love

Lamont Johnson’s You’ll Like My Mother is a gripping psychological thriller starring Patty Duke and Richard Thomas of The Waltons. A pregnant widow meets her mother-in-law for the first time, expecting a warm welcome, only to find her own life threatened when the family’s terrible secrets come to light. What begins as a hopeful trip turns into a complete nightmare for the pregnant widow. The 1972 thriller is a taut, suspenseful movie with a memorably claustrophobic setting.

You’ll Like My Mother is a wonderfully atmospheric piece filmed at a historic mansion in Minnesota. The cold, foreboding winter plays an important part in the story’s plot. When her husband is killed in Vietnam, a very pregnant Francesca Kinsolving (Patty Duke) travels across the country to meet her deceased husband’s mother for the first time. Rosemary Murphy (To Kill A Mockingbird) plays Mrs. Maria Kinsolving, the mother. Instead of the warm welcome one may expect, Mrs. Kinsolving is completely unwelcoming to Francesca from their first moments meeting together. In fact, the mother comes off as a mean, heartless woman.

Sian Barbara Allen plays Kathleen, Mrs. Kinsolving’s mentally challenged daughter that lives as some kind of indentured servant. It’s a performance that would earn her a Golden Globe nomination. The small, intimate movie has few characters beyond this trio and an important figure that will show up later in a part by Richard Thomas.

Patty Duke gives Francesca a palpable vulnerability and sweetness…

Consistently suspenseful, the movie mines the creepy atmosphere and living situation of Mrs. Kinsolving’s remote house. After receiving a poor welcome, Francesca becomes trapped in the house by a ferocious snowstorm. From the odd behavior by Kathleen to the incredibly mean treatment by Mrs. Kinsolving, something isn’t adding up and soon Francesca realizes she may be in danger.

Falling under the woman-in-peril brand of storytelling, Patty Duke is thoroughly convincing as the practical Francesca. Merely hoping to connect with her dead husband’s distant family now that his baby is on the way, Francesca’s plight quickly becomes treacherous for her and her soon-to-be-born infant. Famous for having won an Oscar at sixteen for her performance as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, Duke proves she’s a remarkable acting talent in You’ll Like My Mother. The subtle back-and-forth between Rosemary Murphy and her make the movie, providing most of its dramatic moments and tension.

A seemingly forgotten thriller from the early Seventies, its compelling performances and tight script mark You’ll Like My Mother as an underrated gem. Patty Duke gives Francesca a palpable vulnerability and sweetness rare in today’s more action-charged thrillers. This is an unnerving movie that doesn’t require vampires or boogeymen to generate sheer terror.

You'll Like My Mother Blu-ray screen shot 3

Video

Scream Factory has licensed the 1972 film from Universal Pictures, likely utilizing their existing HD transfer of You’ll Like My Mother. The 1080P video certainly looks like an older film transfer struck by Universal from their catalog. The telecine effort shows improvements in clarity and definition over DVD quality but does not reflect the fine detail possible in a new film scan. This is a serviceable presentation but one that shows its age. The 93-minute main feature comes on a BD-50.

The elements are generally in decent shape with most wear confined to some dross running along the upper edge of the 1.85:1 frame. A newer transfer from the same elements would have likely matted the damage, obscuring the bits and specks of dirt. The thick, dense grain is adequately reproduced by a high-bitrate AVC video encode, marred by a few stray bouts of noise in the whitest scenes. The older transfer is unfiltered but contains slight ringing in the form of low-amplitude halos.

Some shadow detail is crushed. Black levels reflect minor problems in the movie’s cinematography. Color saturation is okay for vintage film stock, with occasional signs that color fading has begun in the elements. There is a soft-focus to much of the cinematography, popular at the time for moody, dramatic thrillers aimed at women. This isn’t video shining with fine detail, there is little depth or definition.

Audio

The audio elements sound in pristine condition for You’ll Like My Mother. The mostly dialogue-driven drama offers splendid fidelity and a smooth score in 2.0 DTS-HD MA. The mono mix is warmly mastered with excellent dynamic range and surprisingly clean treble. Universal’s films always had great soundtracks and this is a very fine studio effort made with then state-of-the-art recording equipment.

Optional English subtitles appear in a white font.

Extras

Scream Factory gives us enriching new interviews with Richard Thomas and Sian Barbara Allen in some depth and candor. I always wonder why they don’t load up their discs with more trailers from their other projects. I will give them credit for releasing You’ll Like My Mother around Mother’s Day, a ghoulish marketing trick.

The Mystery of Kenny and Kathleen (55:38 in HD) – This is an interesting documentary which cuts two separate new interviews by Richard Thomas and Sian Barbara Allen together. The interviews are exhaustive and delve far deeper into both actors’ careers than we usually get as special features. It’s fascinating to hear Sian Barbara Allen’s experiences in Hollywood and her approach to acting. These are honest, engaging talks with actors that were well known in the Seventies and have partially faded from the scene.

Photo Gallery (02:15 in HD)

Theatrical Trailer ((02:21 in HD)

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  • You'll Like My Mother
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Summary

Patty Duke delivers in this forgotten psychological thriller from the 70s.

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