An American Crime

Synopsis: Based on a true story that shocked the nation in 1965, the film recounts one of the most shocking crimes ever committed against a single victim. Sylvia and Jennie Fae Likens, the two daughters of traveling carnival workers are left for an extended stay at the Indianapolis home of single mother Gertrude Baniszewski and her six children. Times are tough, and Gertrude's financial needs cause her to make this arrangement before realizing how the burden will push her unstable nature to a breaking point. What transpires in the next three months is both riveting and horrific.
Director(s): Tommy O'Haver
Production: First Look Studios
  Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
98 min

I used to love the carnival.

Daddy worked all the fairs

selling pretzels and candy apple...

...always looking for

something better.

Sometimes mama would follow him...

...sometimes he'd even take us.

It was always a new adventure

with a whole new family every time.

I figured Jennie and me were the luckiest

girls in the world with a life like that.

My favorite was the merry-go-round.

Maybe I was a little

old for it but...

...all those other rides

they scared me.

The merry-go-round just goes

round and round and up and down.

You don't get anywhere

but you always feel safe.

That's me, on the left...


...and this is my story.

Would you please state your name.

Lester Likens.

Are you married to Betty Likens?


Did you and your wife ever separate?


What period of time

did that occur?

The last week in June 1965.

She was at Euclid street,

and I was in Lebanon, Indiana.

Where were the children?

Jennie Faye and Silvia Marie

was with her.

Do you think,

we'll make new friends?

Sure we will.

Well, maybe there'll be

some cute boys this time.

Church boys mean to be cute.

Come on girls, you don't

wanna be late now for service.



- Hey, Jennie.

- What're you doing here?

Well, I missed you girls.

Hi Betty, can I talk

to you for a minute?

You know, I've been talking

to Horst and he says...

...that we could maybe swing our

own boot at the State-fair this year.

Then maybe we could make

enough money to go on tour.

I told you Lester, I can't do it

anymore, not with the girls.

Maybe my mother will take them.

I can't move them up there again.

They haven't even had a chance

to make friends down here yet.

Betty, maybe we wouldn't fight

this much, without the kids.


You two, go on ahead and

catch the church bus home.

I've gotta settle things

with your father.

See what love

The Father has given us...

...and we are called children of God.

And so we are!

But how does a child,

come on to his Father?

How does The Father,

come on to the child?

Christ said:
I am the way,

the truth, the life and none...

...come on to The Father

but by me.

Our families,

our fathers, our mothers.

It is only through Christ,

that we find The Father.

And it's only through Christ,

that we find each other.

Oh, that's a beautiful dress, Hope.

Oh, thank you, Gertrude.

And um, I'm feeling much

better on my new medicine and...

...if you know anybody who needs

ironing to be done, I'd appreciate the work.

I'll do that.

Thank you.

What happened to your leg?

That's not polite, Shirley!

It's alright, she's used to it.

- So what is it?

- Polio.


Does that hurt?

Our mama's sick too.

All right girls!

We gotta go.

Can they come with us?

You wanna come? We've got

some friends coming over...

...and you can meet

our older sister.


Guess who got stuck with

an extra shift at work?

- Did you get paid?


Got a little extra for dinner.

Here, take the baby.

Where'd they come from?

What's this?

We invited them to stay and play.

We'll be quiet.

All right, make sure of it.

I really like this song.

What does your dad do?

He is cop, they are divorced.

Do you miss him any?

Nah, I just miss his money.

- But, Paula!

- Well, it's true.

Maybe, if he's more

regular with his support... wouldn't be so sick and

I wouldn't have to work so hard.

Little Kenny's got a different daddy.

- Who's little Kenny?

- The baby.

But we ain't supposed

to talk about that.


Wow! You should do this for a living.

Yeah, if she was old enough.

You want me to do yours?

Rate this script:(0.00 / 0 votes)

Tommy O'Haver

Tommy O'Haver (born October 24, 1968, Indianapolis, Indiana) is an American film director and screenwriter. He grew up in Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis. He graduated from Carmel High School and matriculated at Indiana University with a joint degree in Journalism and Comparative Literature. In the mid-1990s, he attended the MFA Film program at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. While there, he directed shorts that appeared at major festivals, including Sundance and The New York Film Festival.Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss, featuring Sean Hayes, was O'Haver's directorial debut. Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss played in competition at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and screened at the Helsinki International Film Festival. His follow-up film Get Over It featured Kirsten Dunst, Ben Foster, Mila Kunis and Zoe Saldana in a teen comedy about a school theater production. O'Haver's third film, Ella Enchanted, starred Anne Hathaway. Catherine Keener, Ellen Page and James Franco star in An American Crime, which premiered at Sundance in 2007, a film based on a true story of Gertrude Baniszewski, an Indiana woman charged in 1965 with the murder of Sylvia Likens. The initial reaction at Sundance was mixed, but the film garnered critical praise. O'Haver and his writing partner, Irene Turner, were nominated for a Writer's Guild Award for the film as well.In June 2013, he directed the music video "Rollin'" for MiBBs. On April 2, 2015, the seventh episode of The Late Late Show with James Corden was broadcast from O'Haver's house.In 2017 O'Haver's fifth film, The Most Hated Woman in America, was released; it starred Melissa Leo as Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the founder of American Atheists. more…

All Tommy O'Haver scripts | Tommy O'Haver Scripts

FAVORITE (0 fans)

Submitted on August 05, 2018

Discuss this script with the community:



    Translate and read this script in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this screenplay to your bibliography:


    "An American Crime" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 21 Apr. 2021. <>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest writers community and scripts collection on the web!

    Watch the movie trailer

    An American Crime

    The Marketplace:

    Sell your Script !

    Get listed in the most prominent screenplays collection on the web!


    The Studio:

    ScreenWriting Tool

    Write your screenplay and focus on the story with many helpful features.

    Thanks for your vote! We truly appreciate your support.