Paul Stefanski | Northern California | 08/01/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"To those interested in true crime I say this film is not worth your wallet and attention.
The producers of this film, or so I've understood, had the case of the infamous Dorothea Puente of Sacramento as its inspiration.
I would have given this film three more stars had it been more in-depth. It is very diluted. Dorothea Puente's case involved not only murders and check forgery, but suspicions, investigations, reporters, details into her dark past, the fact that she was a fugitive at one point, an ultimate arrest and an eventual incarceration. From day one, Dorothea Puente was a professional liar with a chameleonlike cleverness, having used different aliases which enabled her to committ murder and check forgery over and over. At the end of the film however, Ella Purdy (Karen Black) actually "admits" to a Social Security case worker that she murdered her boarders to collect from their pensions given she had a child to care for and a house to maintain since the death (murder?) of her husband. She ends up moving out of her house with her mute daughter with no sign of any arrest. She ducked arrest by having murdered the case worker himself in the house.
I would have given this film three more stars had it contained all the intricacies mentioned above and then some. Dorothea's case was long and complicated. This film is too bland.
Plus the picture and sound quality are less than mint. This movie was released in 1990, but the picture and sound are 70s quality.
Karen Black did a superb job in her role as Ella Purdy, plus she had a psychic among her boarders by the name of Vanya who was a rather folksy character. Arte Johnson did a fantastic job with the case worker role. These artistic qualities prompt me to give this film a two-star rating. Otherwise I would have rendered it just one."