Family Plot is Alfred Hitchcock’s last film and although it is a relatively minor entry in the Master’s oeuvre, it still has some value for his die hard fans. The plot concerns a phony psychic named Blanche (Barbara Harries) who does a reading for an old rich widow that is seeking her long lost nephew. When the old bag offers her a reward to find the nephew, Blanche along with her chauffeur boyfriend George (Bruce Dern), set out to track him down. As it turns out, the nephew (William Devane) is a slimy jewel thief that has just kidnapped a bishop with the help of his wife (Karen Black) who has a penchant for wigs and disguises. When Blanche discovers the bishop's body, she too gets kidnapped and it's up to George to rescue her.
The set-up is intriguing, but unfortunately Hitchcock spreads the plot (and the characters) too thin. While the first and last half hours are fun, the middle section of the film is quite flabby and slow moving. Family Plot would’ve definitely benefited from some tighter editing and a little more showmanship on Hitch’s part as the film is devoid of any show-stopping plot twists or amazing camerawork that Hitchcock is known for. he energetic performances make it watchable though. Dern has an “Aw shucks” quality about him that is appealing and Devane is perfectly sleazy as the mustachioed kidnapper.
Dern gets the best line of the movie when he tells Harris, “You’ve got me by the crystal balls!"