I concede Lady in White was well-made, in the sense that there was production value, a sense of place, and talented actors. Alex Rocco, Len Cariou, Katherine Helmond, this isn’t your fault.
But there’s more than one way for a movie to be bad, and Lady in White’s approach to 60s nostalgia was ham-fisted and weirdly insincere. “Weirdly” because the specificity with which the main character’s Italian immigrant family is sketched makes it seem that Lady in White has heavily autobiographical origins for writer/director Frank LaLoggia. I bet LaLoggia and his family watch this movie and elbow each other in the ribs the whole time. I’m glad if they enjoy it, but to me the characterizations were absurdly broad. The grandmother character is always comically scolding the grandfather character for sneaking Lucky Strikes; at one point he attempts to “drown” himself in the bathtub (by simply dipping his head in the water from outside of it) because she hid his cigarettes. I mean, what the fuck is going on here, considering the main plot is about a little kid being nearly attacked by a child murderer, and then trying to solve the string of murders?
Also there’s a long opening sequence of the quiet kid racing his mean older brother to school and they have all these obstacles like a nun, a pack of dogs, and a Caution: Wet Cement sign. There’s so much unneeded business in Lady in White, including an actual scary lady in white who lives in a house on a rocky cliff (guess where the climax takes place). It’s just under 2 hours, and could have played under 90 minutes if LaLoggia wasn’t wheezing up a hill to fuse his childhood memories with a pulpy mystery plot.
Oh and I’m still mad at the adult narrator, a Stephen King-esque horror novelist who thinks back to his small town youth with this bullshit: ”The city was 25 miles away but I could see the skyline sparkle at night.” Pal, lots of folks are 25 miles away from the city. It’s not the middle of nowhere. Put your horse and buggy in the stable.
There’s so many better movies about kids encountering scarred-for-life adult terror. Go watch Summer of ’84 or Stand By Me instead.