Monday, July 25, 2016

BLOODLINE 1979

I think one of the main reasons Wait Until Dark was so upsetting to me as a kid was because the person at the receiving end of Alan Arkin’s homicidal abuse was Audrey Hepburn. MY Audrey Hepburn! The sweet, elegant, refined, ceaselessly classy, Audrey Hepburn! I didn’t even think of her as the character in the film. In fact, even today, were you ask me the name of her character, I couldn’t say. All I could tell you is that Eliza Doolittle is blind; Sabrina doesn’t know she has a doll full of heroine; and a mean man in a leather jacket chases Holly Golightly around with a switchblade.
Wait Until Dark - 1967
Like many, I fell in love with Audrey Hepburn the first time I saw her on the screen. And it never bothered me one whit that I rarely, if ever, expected her to be anything but her own glorious self from film to film. Hepburn’s screen persona and personal identity were both so intrinsically interlinked in my mind; actress and image remained one in the same. I simply counted on her bringing the same charming, immensely likeable personality to whatever role she played—like an insurance policy of goodwill. It got so that no matter what a film’s shortcomings, Hepburn’s reliably enchanting presence assured me of at least a couple of blissful hours spent in the glow of her one-of-a-kind, movie star incandescence.
Two for the Road - 1967
I grew up during the early days of movie-star overexposure (talk shows, game shows, TV specials), so part of Hepburn’s appeal was scarcity. Not only did she not make many films (contributing to my youthful perception that when she did deign to appear in a movie, it HAD to be special), but Hepburn took a lengthy hiatus from acting precisely at the time I discovered her. I was in the fourth grade when she starred in two of what would become my absolute top favorite Audrey Hepburn films: Two for the Road and Wait Until Dark (both 1967) —only to abruptly drop from sight to raise a family. I was in college when she returned to the screen for Robin and Marian (1976).

I was overjoyed at the prospect of Audrey Hepburn’s comeback (“I hate that word!” – Norma Desmond) but Richard Lester’s Robin and Marian turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag. Hepburn was wonderful as ever, indeed, she’s really rather remarkable, and her scenes with Sean Connery are heartachingly good and never fail to move me to tears. But I always saw Hepburn as a true original and a “star”…someone worthy of a the kind of even-handed role Katherine Hepburn shared with Peter O’Toole in The Lion in Winter. In the Richard Lester film, Hepburn’s Maid Marian (to me, anyway) was just a shade above being a secondary part; responsible for shouldering all the emotional weight, hers was a mature, glorified but nonetheless typical “girlfriend” role in a male action/adventure film.
Robin & Marian  - 1976
Although it would be three more years before Hepburn would grace the screen again (during which time there was talk of her starring in Out of Africa in the role that eventually went to Meryl Streep), when her name was announced for the lead role in the screen adaptation of Sidney Sheldon’s 1977 bestseller Bloodline, this time out I was genuinely (if injudiciously) stoked. At last Hepburn was to star in a film more worthy of her stature and reputation: a glamorous, big-budget, international romantic suspense thriller!

And while saner minds might have considered Sidney Sheldon’s name attached to the project to be a red flag of no small significance, I allowed myself to be distracted by the possibilities posed by the film’s sizable, international cast of (mostly) genuine movie stars; Hepburn being reunited with director Terence Young (who guided Hepburn to her 5th Academy Award nomination with Wait Until Dark); and the opportunity to her sporting chic frocks by her favorite designer, Hubert de Givenchy (Robin & Marian’s 16thcentury nun’s habit didn’t cut it for me).
Bolstered by the popularity of the bestseller, the draw of Hepburn’s 2nd screen comeback (ahem,…return), and an inordinate amount of publicity centered around the age discrepancy between the novel’s heroine (23) and Hepburn herself (50 playing 35);  Bloodline was set to be a major release from Paramount for the summer  of ’79.

Alas, despite its tony pedigree, Bloodline proved to be rather anemic at the boxoffice. Audiences, as they say, stayed away in droves, a result perhaps of finding the film’s rather distasteful (and nonsensical) porno snuff film subplot to be as cruel a mistreatment of Audrey Hepburn as anything Alan Arkin dished out.

For those not around in the late-70s (or who were, but not as immersed in smut as yours truly), Bloodline's distinctive, ribboned throated female with the overemphasized red lips, poster graphic (figuring significantly in the film's bafflingly superfluous porno subplot) referenced - inadvertently perhaps - a then-popular line of porn mags and videos known as Swedish Erotica. That company's trademark was to feature "models" with deeply scarlet lips, wearing only a smile and a colorful scarf tied around the neck. The lovely platinum blonde with the hard countenance above is Seka, one of the company's most popular performers.
I know this because one of my earliest jobs when I moved to LA was working at Adam & Eve's Adult Books (Nudist Magazines! Art Films!), located right next to where I lived at the time: The Villa Elaine Apartments on Vine Street. I sold a lot those Swedish Erotica porno loops. Film is film, yes?...Vive le cinéma! (screencap is from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls)



SIDNEY SHELDON'S BLOODLINE
Audrey Hepburn as Elizabeth Roffe
Ben Gazzara as Rhys Williams
James Mason as Sir Alec Nichols
Romy Schneider as Helene Roffe-Martin
Omar Sharif as Ivo Palazzi
Irene Papas as Simonetta  Palazzi
Maurice Ronet as Charles Martin
Michelle Phillips as Vivian Nichols
Gert Frobe as Inspector Max Hornung

Beautiful Elizabeth Roffe (the cardinal rule for trash novels is that all heroines must be beautiful) is the doting only child born to disappointed-she-wasn’t-a-boy pharmaceutical magnate Sam Roffe. When Mr. Roffe dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances, inexperienced but quick-to-learn Elizabeth instantly inherits a global, multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical dynasty. A financially beleaguered company suffering a recent streak (read: suspicious) of bad luck.
Although pressured by her stock-holding relatives to sell the company and go public, headstrong Elizabeth (thanks to the help of her father’s faithful secretary and a monumentally boring flashback to her great grandfather’s humble beginnings in Krakow, Poland) decides, in spite of her inexperience, to run the business herself. A decision which doesn’t set well with her relatives, a virtual “It’s a Small World” sampling of sinister multinationality, each grappling with various degrees of financial hardship.
Putting the Bored in Boardroom
Even The Muppet Movie didn't have this many scenes set behind desks 
As though to make it easier for ‘merican audiences to follow along, the extended Roffe family conveniently plays to familiar national stereotypes: Italian Ivo (Sharif) is a philandering bumbler being blackmailed by his heavy-accented, hot-tempered, black-bra-wearing mistress (Claudia Mori). Paris-based Helene (Schneider) is patronizing and rude, while her browbeaten husband (Ronet) sinks money into a failing (what else?) vineyard. British MP Alec (Mason), in a state of near-ruin due to his much-younger wife’s gambling addiction, nevertheless maintains a stiff-upper-lip formality and cool head. And good ol' American Rhys Williams (Gazzara) is a direct, straight-shootin’ sorta guy who’s only flaw seems to be having a weakness for the ladies.

With so many family members standing to financially benefit from the company’s dissolution, it’s only a matter of time before Elizabeth discovers that not only wasn’t her father’s death accidental, but her resistance to selling the company has placed her own life in danger. As factory mishaps multiply, close calls escalate, and some bald dude keeps strangling anonymous women, the questions mount: Who can be trusted? Are bloodlines thicker than mountain climbing rope, brake lines, or elevator cables? And just who is that Boris Badenov lookalike orchestrating those repugnant snuff films?
More importantly, how the hell did MY Audrey Hepburn get mixed up in this mess?

Apt Metaphor
Audrey Hepburn trapped in a runaway vehicle that's careening out of control

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS FILM
Whether it be Jacqueline Susann, Harold Robbins, or Jackie Collins; I love a good, glossy trash movie. But Bloodline really puts my blind adoration to the test. It’s a film comprised of all the standard ingredients, but everything just feels a little off.
There’s the large cast of recognizable names. Excellent actors all, but just a wee bit past their prime. The curious side effect being (as the average age falls within the 49 – 60 range) is that it often appears as though everybody had a “must sit down” clause in their contracts. There’s a hell of a lot of sitting going on in this movie. It’s hard to get worked up over the identity of the murderer when no one in the cast looks like they have the energy for it. 
Beatrice Straight as loyal secretary Kate Erling
Then there’s the promise of exotic, far off locations. Bloodline spent a sizable chunk of its $12-million-budget flying cast and crew to New York, London, Paris, Rome, Munich, Sardinia, and Copenhagen; so why does most of it look like it was shot on a studio backlot? There’s a scene shot in a European red-light district that has all the authenticity and grit of the San Francisco backstreets Patty Duke stumbled around in Valley of the Dolls
Lastly, there’s the opportunity for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the cutthroat world of big business. Harold Robbins’ The Betsy had the automotive industry; Jacqueline Susann’s The Love Machine had the television industry; Sidney Sheldon’s Bloodline takes place in the cutthroat world of pharmaceuticals (the sleeping pill jokes practically write themselves). This obviously posed a challenge to screenwriter Laird Koenig, for his idea of creating dramatic tension is to have characters declare “Let’s call a meeting!”  with the frequency (and similar purpose) of a teenager yelling “Surf’s up!” in a Beach Party movie. 
What little momentum Bloodline has comes to a screeching halt as Gazzara takes Hepburn
on a 3-hour-tour of a Roffe pharmaceutical plant (or does it only feel that way?). The scene is
accompanied by composer Ennio Morricone's nod to disco and Giorgio Moroder which had me
wishing I had a few Roffe aspirins at my disposal

I’ve not read enough Sidney Sheldon to know if this is substandard for his usual brand of schlock (I’ve only read Bloodline and The Other Side of Midnight, and of the two, Bloodline feels surely lacking), but I’ve always felt the novel would have been better off adapted as a TV movie or miniseries starring Jacklyn Smith. A plot like Bloodline's would stand to benefit from the built-in lowered expectations. As it is, with Audrey Hepburn and so many esteemed actors attached to the project, the film not only acquires a prestige it can’t possibly live up to (not with THAT source material); but it also takes on a the kind of self-serious air that’s poison to escapist trash like this. 
I found Hepburn's Givenchy wardrobe to be more exciting than the film

PERFORMANCES
Sad to say, but Bloodline is something of an embarrassment for everyone involved (except Omar Sharif, who gleefully sinks to the level of the material and in doing so, somehow salvages himself).
But my dear Audrey Hepburn is particularly ill-served. I’ve read that she was very unhappy during the filming (her marriage was falling apart), was feeling rusty and insecure about her talent, and even sought to bail on the movie once she learned of the nudity/porn/snuff-film angle (perhaps she was too busy counting the zeroes on her $1 million paycheck to be bothered with reading the novel or script beforehand). All this goes a long way toward explaining why she really doesn’t seem to be present in this film.
I’m usually delighted watching Hepburn in her anything, but it’s no fun watching someone who seems to be having so little.
One good thing to come out of Bloodline was an affair between Gazzara (recently divorced from Janice Rule) & Hepburn (still married to Andrea Dotti) which lasted through to their next film together, Peter Bogdanovich's They All Laughed (1981).
True to form, the couple's real-life sparks fail to show up on the screen in Bloodline ,sealing the film's fate as a romantic suspense thriller with no romantic chemistry, minimal suspense, and negligible thrills. (As leading men go, Gazzara is as bland and colorless a co-star as Efrem Zimbalist Jr. was in Wait Until Dark. Terence Young can sure pick 'em.)

Hepburn was a legendarily lovely woman, but even her iconic beauty was no match for this unflattering, matronly "Church Lady" curly perm that appeared to be all the rage during the late '70s-early '80s. Here it is doing absolutely no favors for (clockwise ) Hepburn, Mary Tyler Moore (Ordinary People -1980), Maureen Stapleton (Interiors - 1978), Dustin Hoffman...who actually looks pretty good (Tootsie - 1982), Ali MacGraw (Just Tell Me What You Want  - 1980), and Marsha Mason (Chapter Two - 1979).
*Special thanks to the readers who jogged my memory


THE STUFF OF DREAMS NIGHTMARES
Spoiler Alert: Read no further. Crucial plot points are revealed for the purpose of discussion. 
The most consistent complaint leveled at Bloodline is that the very focus of its print and poster ads, what earned it its R-rating, the one story element which stands as the most distasteful part of the film ----makes absolutely no sense and has no bearing on the central mystery. 
From the time of Bloodline’s release, the subplot involving a serial killer strangling prostitutes, filming their deaths, and then discarding their bodies in the river (each with a red ribbon around their neck), has been a bad taste deal-breaker. Whatever narrow chances Bloodline might have had as a sophisticated thriller or even a camp classic were forever jeopardized by the ugliness of these scenes. Scenes made all the more odious due to the fact that they appear to have nothing whatsoever to do with anything.
Family Feud
"According to my father, one of them is deliberately trying to ruin the company."

Well, that’s not entirely true. Bloodline is a movie that has all the earmarks of having been hacked to pieces. A fact evident in characters and relationships never being fleshed out or explained, storylines and plot points left dangling, and a general air of abrupt abbreviation. The theatrical release runs nearly two hours, but when it was broadcast on television, there was 40 minutes of unseen footage available to use. Forty minutes!
A serious casualty of all this cutting (I can only assume) is that it’s never made clear what the hell the serial killer angle has to do with someone out to sabotage Roffe Pharmaceuticals.

What’s missing from the film is expounded upon in the novel (albeit cursorily), so for those who have no wish to subject themselves to Sidney Sheldon for the sake of making sense of the nonsensical, here goes: (Remember folks, spoilers ahead). 
Now, Voyeur
The man behind these filmed murders is seen reflected in the dresser mirror

Sir Alec is sexually impotent, and as a result, his vain, much-younger wife is blatantly (and serially) unfaithful, Her incessant gambling and wanton spending brings the mob down on their heads (threatening to nail her knees to the floor), prompting Alec to resort to sabotage and murder to secure his share of Roffe industries.
On a wholly unrelated note, Alec. unwilling to divorce his wife yet hating her for her infidelities, can only achieve sexual gratification when vicariously “punishing” women whom he makes up to look like her (the red ribbon bit. The first time they made love, she was wearing a red ribbon around her neck). So Sir Alec pays a maniac to act out his revenge fantasy on anonymous women while he watches from the sidelines and a cameraman films their strangulation deaths. Are you sick yet?


STUFF OF FANTASY
For all its flaws, Bloodline has a place in this cinema diary of mine because I was so absolutely caught up with the hype at the time. It was one of those films you get so worked up over seeing that when it proves to be a bit of a disappointment, you don't really admit it to yourself (in a way you don't really know it). I recall sitting through it twice on opening night, and then returning the following week. Was it because I liked it that much? Not really. Was I THAT excited to see Audrey Hepburn on the screen again? Well, of course!
One clunker in a career of gems doesn't stop her from being MY Audrey Hepburn.



BONUS MATERIAL
On April 13, 1979 Grauman's Chinese Theater added two ugly, boxy cineplexes to the original theater built in 1926. Bloodline was one of a package of Paramount releases premiering at one of the new theaters that summer. I saw Bloodline on opening night Friday, June 29th, which also happened to be the opening day of the latest Bond film Moonraker, and the Bill Murray summer camp comedy Meatballs. I watched Bloodline with an audience comprised of older couples and a few folks turned away from sold-out Bond screenings.
Premiere features were: Hurricane, Old Boyfriends, and in the main theater, Superman 

Here's the trailer for Bloodline's 1986 television broadcast. Even in this 30-second clip are scenes not in the theatrical release. Michelle Phillips was appearing on the ABC TV series Hotel at the time, accounting for her prominent billing.


 I wasn't aware that Bloodline marked the 5th screen pairing of Romy Schneider and Maurice Ronet. Prior to Bloodline they appeared in the mystery/thriller Qui? (1970)


Copyright © Ken Anderson

33 comments:

  1. Hi Ken,
    I hadn't thought of this movie in eons!

    Never understood why Audrey Hepburn came out of retirement, especially for trash like this! 1967 was such a watershed year for actresses of Audrey's era...they either retired, went to television, or made increasingly bizarre movies (cough, Elizabeth Taylor, cough!)

    I remember catty comments at the time about the advanced age of the "international" cast and that was intentional to deflect criticism of Audrey's over-aged miscasting.

    And you read my mind...or I was reading yours...As I was reading this post, I thought, "A few years later and this woulda been a mini-series!"

    Oh, and Ben Gazarra. He and John Cassavettes have always made my skin crawl with their creepy sneers. Irrational, I know, but I can barely tolerate them in any movie unless they are playing the villain!

    Did you just watch this masterpiece recently, Ken? ; )

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    1. Hi Rick
      I have only a handful, but "Boodline" is one of those movies I was absolutely dotty for when it came out (like "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"), only to find it hasn't aged particularly well.

      I've read bio after bio, but no writer has yet been able to come up with a good explanation for why Hepburn even bothered with this. They all seem to stop short of saying "She did it for the money." I don't know whay that would be so harsh a conclusion to arrive at. It's certainly nice than what it appears to be: temporary insanity.
      Until you mentioned it, it hadn't occurred to me that the advanced age of Hepburn's co-stars DID help a bit with making the age thing less of an issue (like all those old stars they cast in "Grease to make 20-something Rydell High teens look believable).

      And yes, "Bloodline" was kind of a last theatrical gasp for this particular kind of entertainment. The TV miniseries format was made-to-order for these multi-character, multi-plot opuses.
      And don't get me started on Ben Gazzara! I actually had a huge crush on John Cassavetes, but Ben Gazzara occupied this area of male stars I never understood the appeal of (David Janssen, Harry Guardino, John Forsythe...ugh!)
      And YES! I recently watched this little masterpiece. Amazing how slooooow it is, but also amazing how much I
      can still watch Audrey Hepburn in almost anything (apparently)!
      I'm such a masochist, I wish someone would release the TV version with all that extra footage.
      Thanks for commenting, Rick!

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    2. With their New Yorker-type personalities, gravelly voices, sullen demeanors, less than lovable mugs...don't Gazzara, Janssen, and Guardino all seem to be the same person? : )

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    3. Indeed...they are so interchangeable and SOOOO dull!

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  2. My guess is Audrey did make this movie for money...and there should be no shame in that. As you note, she'd been taking an extended break from work to raise her family, she hadn't made a movie in several years, and her marriage was on the verge of breaking up. I have to figure Audrey found herself in some sort of money trouble (not "do I pay rent or do I buy food this week?" money trouble, but international movie star money trouble, which is relative, but still trouble) and knew she had to get back out there and earn some money. That being said, it's a dreadful movie (I've only seen it on tv, but even then I could scarsely keep my eyes open) and poor Audrey seems to be acting in a completely different movie altogether. Is it my bad memory or did it seem as if the movie was edited in a cuisinart--with lots of jumps between unrelated subplots, not to mention scenes of people talking to each other where the camera goes from one close-up to another, giving the impression that the actors weren't even in the same room when they shot their scenes?

    And that perm! Was ever a hairstyle so unflattering, unforgiving, and downright aging as that eighties perm? Each if the actresses above look at least ten years older than they needed to with that matronly 'do. (You could also include Mary Tyler Moore's look in "Ordinary People", although I think the goal there is to make her look old.)

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    1. Hi Deb
      I honestly think the money thing was the kicker as well (I laughed at the description "international movie star money trouble), her husband wasn't pulling in the kind of money her film work did, and she had been off the screen for quite a while.
      One biographer also cited that she trusted director Terence Young and felt a sense of loyalty to him. The same book (which I could remember which one) suggests too, that she was a good deal more weary of her "eternal ingenue" image than than her fans would guess, and that she was drawn to playing a strong woman.
      Too bad the script was so weak.

      Your memory of the film is pretty good for only having seen it once. Robert Altman may have been a whiz at juggling multiple characters and plots, but Young is all at sea. The result is as you described it, a film that seems to have been edited rather swiftly (and filmed rather sloppily...the number of goofs oddball corner-cutting is baffling in a film of this size).

      The most glaring is a conference room scene where the entire cast's costumes change when it's shot from another angle.
      There's stock footage, cheap fire effects, and a photo album from the late 1800's featuring glaringly anachronistic production stills.
      "Bloodline" was rumored to have been a tax shelter production, so maybe everybody just took their paychecks and ran.
      And thanks for reminding me of Mary Tyler Moore's bubble perm from "Ordinary People" (1980) ...its EXACTLY the same terrible hairdo.
      https://www.pinterest.com/pin/102175485267190649/

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Deb. Always fun.

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  3. (Long time reader here, I've even commented once or twice, but  always been under different aliases... so hi and thanks for the quality blog.) I began to salivate when I saw that you'd written about Bloodline - it's the guiltiest of my guilty pleasures and I love it to bits, even though I always lose track of the plot. I really just watch it for the clothes and interior design. I even have a soft spot for that perm of Audrey's but then again Tootsie is my favorite movie and I just have a thing for this type of look...

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    1. Hello!
      I'm really going to have to make another "church lady" hair collage, adding MTM and Tootsie to the set (I'd forgotten about Dorthy Michaels!")
      I think I have to join you in saying "Bloodline" is a guilty pleasure, because, mindful as I am of all its flaws and shortcomings as a film, I still find it watchable. Well, in a perverse way, it remains watchable BECAUSE of all its flaws and shortcomings.

      It's difficult not to be taken with the cast: It's one of the few times I've ever seen Irene Papas out of peasant clothing; I love Romy Schneider in almost anything; and even Maurice Ronet's silent movie star eye makeup is fun.
      But on the whole I always wish they didn't cut away from Hepburn's storyline so much. She's not her usual incandescent self, but she's always watchable. And as that TV promo indicates, she and Gazzara obviously had more romantic scenes than they were given in the theatrical release.
      I take it you have the DVD? It's the first time since 1979 I've seen it widescreen and in such pristine shape. It looks great.
      So, nice to meet another "Bloodline" guilty-pleasure fan. But in truth, there's nothing to feel guilty about when it comes to enjoying seeing Hepburn on the screen? If you said you liked Adam Sandler, Vin Deisel, or Jason Statham movies; then you'd have LOTS of reason to feel guilty.
      Thanks for the complimentary words, for being a long-time reader, and for being excited that I wrote about a film I figured most people would have forgotten about!
      Much appreciated!

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    2. I can think of nothing worse than to sit through one of those comedies or action flicks by that roster you mentioned, so yes, you're correct. It's a delight watching these obscure movies with yesteryear's stars... this cast sounds so dreamy on paper! I even like Gazzara, who I admit is quite discomforting in these 'soft' roles where he plays an almost fatherly love interest. (But that was just Audrey’s luck, always being cast with older or mature-looking male costars. Their real life romance remains puzzling, but reading Audrey’s biography by Donald Spoto makes me feel very sorry for her, as it seems she wanted to marry Gazzara, who in the end decided not to leave his wife.) I think he was best served by his role in Anatomy of a Murder. Maurice Ronet on the other hand always makes me go "ehhhh" when I see his name in the credits. Maybe it's because he got to be so unfortunately typecast as a down on his luck doofus that I never warmed to him.

      I was about to ask you what happened to your tumblr, but then I spotted it in the sidebar - followed!

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    3. Yes, when it comes to movies I think there are different kinds of "dumb." I can enjoy a film that's wrong-headed in its attempts to be classy or risque (and like you say, the cast list here is pretty impressive) and falls on its butt due to a lot of lame-brained decisions. But a movie that starts out of the gate with the express purpose of being stupid...(like many of those made by the folks I listed) well, that's another matter.
      I too had read that Audrey was taken with Gazzara and that this particular point in her life wasn't a particularly happy one. I have no idea what kind of roles she was being offered, but looking at the kinds of movies being made in the late 70s/80s, I'm just glad she didn't play Jason's mother or do one of those psycho biddy roles.
      On paper (and with a million dollar paycheck) perhaps "Bloodline" looked like a better deal than it turned out to be (and at least she didn't go the TV route, like starring on Falcon Crest or something).

      I'm sure I'd read it, but I didn't know about her desire to marry Gazzara (like Bacall's thing with Harry Gaurdino...ick). Maurice Ronet I don't know too well, but his face lift (or nip tuck) looks new here...it looks more settled in 1981's "Sphinx" another stinker that's fun for me.
      Thanks for looking me up on Tumblr, I'll return the favor! Thanks!

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  4. I have never seen this movie, though I've wanted to since I was twelve! LOL I just couldn't go then and it seemed to fall off the face of the earth later... I was agog when I saw you were writing about it, though I had to stop reading after a while due to spoilers. I've never even seen very many pictures from the movie, so my first glimpse of Audrey was marked by disbelief at that hairdo! (And, if I recall correctly from seeing my step-monster do hers, this was more than just a perm in many cases. The lady would perm her hair to build volume, but then also hot roll or curl it, then pick it out and spray it every single time, too, which made waiting to go somewhere a complete trial...) To see that you later riffed on it some more and included other examples was HILARIOUS. It was such a popular look and so unflattering to nearly everyone who bore it! (Somehow Maureen Stapleton's rendition of it doesn't bother me as much.) Ali MacGraw later took to wearing one of Audrey's other, better, looks which was slicking it all back tightly and it still serves her well even now! It was nice to see Romy Schneider looking so well, I must say. I don't know when I ever saw her after "The Cardinal," which was about 1963. I am 49 next month and I cannot believe that Audrey was 50 here! The way she's styled makes her seem older than that. Anyway, I've got to get my hands on this movie so I can join in the "fun." Thanks!

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    1. Hi Poseidon
      I hope you do find a copy of this soon, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Selfishly I hope you will one day write about it, too. You always dig up such great behind-the-scenes stuff.
      After an awful lot of advance publicity, this movie really disappeared quickly and has been unavailable for the longest time. Even the DVD release seemed not to stay around long. But its available for viewing on Amazon and you could probably get the DVD used for practically nothing.
      I of course laughed at you description of what it took for your "step-monster" to achieve the appropriately pouffy effect of Hepburn's hair. And that's a great observation noting how MacGraw's adoption of Hepburn's pulled back hair look really flatters her these days.
      What's kind of surprising is that the age of the stars then doesn't match up with what stars look like at similar ages now. I know that smoking and drinking took its toll on most everyone of that generation, but the majority of this cast is pretty young by today's longevity standards (Helen Mirren comes to mind), yet look much older.
      So glad you clocked in on this one and I look forward (hint hint) to reading about it on you blog someday! Oh, and Happy Birthday!

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  5. Yes, it's quite a movie. As was noted by reviewers, Audrey's getaway villa opens onto the market street in a busy town... for a while, anyway... later when the killer chases her it overlooks the ocean waves crashing onto the rocks below!

    Apparently the killer teleported the house?

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    1. Ha! I read that in the IMDB "Goofs" section, and I was even looking for it when I watched it. But after seeing it two times through, I think whoever cited that made an error born of the film being so choppily edited. The villa shots all include the ocean view, but there's a scene of Hepburn in a bedroom which, lacking an establishing shot of any kind, fails to clue you in that she's in a hotel room (the only giveaway is the phone she'd used in a previous hotel shot) so when she looks out of her window, we see a town.
      "Bloodline" engages in a little too much globetrotting for its own good.

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  6. Dear Ken: Hi! Thank you for another enjoyable post.

    I recall when this film came out (I was in high school) but don't recall whether it even played at a theater in my (not-very-large) hometown. I do recall my parents watching it on TV a few years later. Both were big fans of Audrey's so I don't know what they thought finding her in a film like this. But since they often watched TV buried behind their newspapers, maybe they didn't catch too much of the film, anyway! (I sense "Bloodline" would be a good movie to watch while buried behind a newspaper!)

    SPOLIER ALERT: I think my older sister also saw it. Is this the movie where a woman is murdered by having spikes driven through her knees into the floor? If it is, that is the only scene my sister commented on. (And if it is, that takes away any desire I have to see "Bloodline"!)

    One other thing I wanted to comment on is your observation of Hepburn's apparent lack of comfort or interest in the film she is starring in. I notice that occasionally with stars, and I always find that an uncomfortable thing to witness. Another one that comes to mind is Doris Day (Doris always comes to mind for me, you may have noticed!) in
    "Caprice," which I consider her worst film. There are scenes where she clearly looks bored or even hostile. That's quite disconcerting, and such a change from the usual sunny, "giving it my best" Doris persona. She herself has talked about never wanting to do the film (although she enjoyed working with Richard Harris) but being contracted to star in it by her husband. I know there are days at work when I'm not giving my best, but imagine having millions of people see me doing so!

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    1. Hi David
      So happy you enjoyed the post!
      I wonder what a lot of Audrey Hepburn fans think about this movie. My guess is that it's the "fat Elvis" of her career; those who adore her earlier roles simply pretend this movie doesn't exist.
      I really do long to see the TV cut (maybe I should prowl iOffer) just to find out what what is included in those 40 minutes of TV-suitable footage.
      (Spoiler)
      And yes, a character in this film does have her knees nailed to the floor - happily it occurs offscreen and it's not fatal (in the book, while being carried to to the ambulance, Sheldon actually has her say, "I'll never dance again!"...how did this book become a bestseller?!?)

      You comment about stars appearing to be visibly uncomfortable or unhappy in their roles is a wonderful dea for a post someday! I actually enjoy the Doris Day movie "Caprice", but I think (perversely) it's in part for the very reason you site. She doesn't seem to be into it and DOES come off as a bit hostile. Something about it ust feels like she's making the best of a bad situation. I get the same feeling from Janice Rule in one of those Matt Helm comedies with Dean Martin (The Ambushers) she looks absolutely miserable. I also get a kick out of how grumpy Barbra Streisand seems in Funny Lady. She goes through the entire film in a state of pique not entirely related to her character.

      In whole, I don't think "Bloodline" is really in any danger of being dubbed an "overlooked Audrey Hepburn classic" any time soon. Great to hear from you, David!

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  7. Growing up, Audrey Hepburn was not every teenage boy's fantasy woman, but she was mine. Her lithe beauty and elegant style, combined with her sense of playfulness always appealed to me. Whether it's 'Roman Holiday' or 'Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn,' she is always a delight to watch. (I also admired her for serving as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.) My guilty pleasure: I'll tune in to watch her son, Sean Ferrer, selling her jewelry reproductions on HSN just to hear the reminisces he shares with the viewers of his beautiful mother.

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    1. Hi Robert
      I of course agree with you about that quality Hepburn had that made her such a pleasure to watch. And truly, in spite of the great joy she brought to people with her films, I've always been most impressed by her humanitarian work offscreen.
      Had no idea there was a line of Hepburn Jewelry her son hawked on HSN, but I have read his comments about her in the past and he always makes her sound liek the most humble, down to earth person. So surprised by her own icon status.

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  8. Hi Ken. Thanks for the astute and funny review of "Bloodline"! You are right about the lack of chic clothes in "Robin and Marian" and all the scenes with the actors sitting at endless meetings. I laughed at your comments about Jacklyn Smith and the matronly Church lady hair trend! I remember that my aunt had her like that in the late seventies and it wasn't very flattering.

    I've seen this film. I got the dvd because of Audrey and the other stars in the film but I was quite disappointed by it. It seemed long and unexciting and improbable. I felt so sorry for Audrey. Did she not have better scipts to choose from for her comeback!? Her next film "They All Laughed" is much worse though. A vey unfunny comedy, I think.

    All I remember of "Bloodline" now is the fire and Audrey on top of the roof. Also, that one of my favourites, Romy Schnieder, shared no scenes with Audrey! (Am i wrong? It's been a while since I saw it.)

    All the stars seem so weighed down by the heavy clothes and make up, and the terrible script. It reminds me a little of "The Adventurers" which was also interminable but is much more camp with the sets and fashions! I must Watch "Bloodline" again!
    -Wille

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    1. Hi Wille
      Thank you very much!
      I'm impressed (as I tend to be when someone validates one of my quirks by doing the same thing) that you have the DVD!
      "Bloodline" really should be a lot more fun than it is. Sometimes when these soapy potboilers attract "real" actors, they take themselves so seriously they squeeze the air out of the silliness. When they cast people like Candice Bergen and Bekim Fehmiu...well, they just stand back and let nature take its course. Have you ever seen "The Lonely Lady" with Pia Zadora? THAT'S how you do it!
      On the big screen in 1979 some of this looked pretty exciting (like that classy theme music they play over the ominous credits sequence), but now, I agree with you. Especially your observation about the "chic" clothes of some of the others...they look encased and boogged down in some of those fashions.
      It's also a waste of talent when you get stars like Hepburn, Schneider, and Papas, and fail to have them interact very much. Schneider is in one of the many boardroom scenes with Hepburn, but they only interact in alternating close-ups. Hepburn was always such a male fantasy, to see her interact with women in movies was rare.
      I'm also with you in not liking "They All Laughed". In fact, I've never gotten all the way through it. Very unfunny to me, and I'm really not a John Ritter fan.
      If you watch "Bloodline" again, I'd love to find out if that Ennio Morricone score gets on your nerves by the end of the film.
      Good to hear from you, Wille!

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    2. I now really do want to watch the film again, Ken! It's the length of it and the endless meetings depicted in it that's a little daunting. I like Ennio Morricones soundtracks so it will be interesting to hear his attempt making disco music!

      I love Audrey! (Or "Aye adoooore Ooodrey" as British magazine Tatler once quoted Givenchy saying.) She could do very little wrong. It's too bad her later films were so lacking. "They all laughed" is painfully bad. "Bloodline" has all the goofs to marvel at. You reminded me of the editing of one of the boardroom scenes where the clothing of the cast changes! Just utterly mad to include that, as if no one would notice! That must be the worst film editing gaff ever.

      I wish I had a copy of "The Lonely Lady". It's seems to be a legendary film. Have you reviewed it?
      -Wille

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    3. Hi Wille
      Sometimes it's interesting to revisit a film like this, sometimes it's trying. The passage of time (film is almost 40 years old) makes things once-insufferable, seem funny. But there is no getting past the sluggish pacing.
      (Loved the Givenchy dialect quote!)

      I have a copy of The Lonely Lady (the quality is not so good), but I hope to write about it soon. It is a movie so bad, no one even bothered to try to turn it into a cult favorite.

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    4. Hi Ken, there are some great trashy movies that have not become well known camp films, such as "The Lonely Lady". They're just screaming for audiences who have learned every line of bad dialouge by heart. Maybe it's because they were never released on video or dvd and were hard to find, if not impossible to get hold of. There's one on the tip of my tounge that I can't remember it right now. I'll get back to you about it.

      It was interesting what you wrote about Audrey being a "male fantasy". She wasn't the typical busty bombshell like Marilyn, driving men crazy but I think I know what you mean. It strange that she had few scenes with other women in films. I've never thought about that, but it's true. She's often depicted as a muse for men.
      -Wille

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  9. To Mr. Anderson,

    Just writing to say thank you for your blog-you chose a lot of interesting movies. You may remember a few months ago I left a comment about Suzy Kendall. How about doing a review that had her in a film? If you do a review of "Up the Junction" please label the year under 1967 (just as "The Bird With the Crystal Plumage" was 1969 instead of '70). I think after Marianne Faithful she became the most charismatic British female person of the 60's. Thank you.

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    1. Hello Eric
      Thank you very much for reading my blog! And I do recall your comments from the Joanna Pettet post. Perhaps one day I will write a bout a movie with Suzy Kendall, but as my blog is more a "film diary" of my life rather than a general movie review blog, the movies I select are narrow in scope. But you never know. After all, "To Sir, With Love" was one of my childhood favorites.
      Thanks Eric, for visiting the site and taking the time to comment!

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  10. Ah, "Bloodline." It opened at the end of June and was already at the "cheap seats" in September, when I saw it. I really wasn't that interested in the story but, as I said in my earlier comment, I jumped at the chance to see a real Hollywood legend on the big screen and for only a buck. It was pretty strange to see the star of "The Nun's Story," "My Fair Lady" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" in a Sidney Sheldon potboiler but I enjoyed it and was happy I got a chance to see her on the big screen. (As I was also happy to see Julie Christie in "Doctor Zhivago" at another one of the local "cheap seats" places a couple of years later-back in the days before VCRs, it seemed like ANYTHING would show up at the local grindhouses!)
    I forgot Irene Pappas was in this, too. That seems like an equal come-down; from "Z" to Sidney Sheldon.

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    1. Ha! That's a great memory to share of how swiftly this $12 million dollar film tanked. "Bloodline" has a lot of tax-shelter behind the scenes stuff that makes me think the film (in spite of the publicity push) was somewhat hastily assembled, quickly (and poorly) edited, and dumped into theaters for a fast payoff. But as you say, there was something about being able to see real movie stars on the big screen.
      Especially as the New Hollywood of the 70s was making way for the juvenilia that "Star Wars" ushered in, and movies aimed at adults were on the endangered species list. Everything Sidney Sheldon was selling would soon be the fodder for nighttime soaps, so really "Bloodline" was kind of the end of the line.

      Also, I moved to LA around the last gasp of the grindhouses, and it really was amazing the films you could see. Double bills for $1.00, and often big features, not just exploitation stuff.

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  11. You know, after reading your post, I realized that this was the first Audrey Hepburn movie I ever saw. I grew up in a very rural area with one movie theater that rarely had anything other than a Disney movie playing (not that my parents would have allowed me to see anything else). I remember the film coming out though and confusing Audrey Hepburn with Katherine Hepburn (I remember thinking they must be sisters or something back then). Well, some time in the 80's, it popped up on television and my parents, being big Audrey fans, watched it and let me watch. I'm guessing the heavy editing needed for T.V. did little for the already confusing plot. (I do remember having a hard time following it.) I remember finding the ending rather suspenseful as the murderer is narrowed down to one of two people and Audrey is in a situation where she has to pick one of them. (Later, I discovered this same approach was used much more successfully in "Charade.") VCR's and video rental stores came into being and I was able to watch films with the "real" Audrey and have been a big fan ever since.

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    1. Hi Ron
      Wow...your detailed reminiscence is just the kind of thing I live for on this blog! I'm always fascinated to learn when/how certain films come to people's attention, and nothing is more entertaining (for me) that to hear of a young person processing "mature" entertainment.
      Until you mentioned it, I hadn't at all considered how very similar the suspenseful ending was to the "Which one's the killer?" ending of "Charade"! Most critics were so quick to point out that Hepburn purposely destroying the villa (so that the killer can't make her death look like an accident) mirrored a similar getting-ready-to-confront-the-killer sequence in "Wait Until Dark."
      You're so right in noting that the "real" Audrey Hepburn awaited you in many other films. This being your first Audrey Hepburn movie reminds me of a similar experience I had with seeing the regal Jennifer Jones for the first time in the decidedly sleazy "Angel Angel Down We Go" ...it would be many more years before I uncovered the "real" Jennifer Jones through TCM.
      Thanks for contributing a terrific comment, Ron, and thanks for stopping by!

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  12. I haven't seen Bloodline in thirty-plus years, but another thing adds to the slow-paced purposelessness of it all. If memory serves, there are out-of-nowhere rich folk "glamour" excursions for several of those suspicious relatives. Like, doesn't Romy Schneider careen around a speedway in a racing car for ninety seconds or so?

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    1. So right you are! The film keeps leaving the Hepburn storyline behind to provide lengthy cutaways to the lives of the cousins. Romy Schnedier's character does indeed race cars (as a hobby?) and her racing track sequence is padded out with some really obvious and ill-matched stock footage.

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  13. So in this stuffed meatball-slash-Sidney Sheldon potboiler of a movie, you have an incoherent plot involving big business, murder, illicit sex, underheated romance, hookers, impotence, bad hair, what looks like even badder fashions, a cast of past-their-prime stars, Audrey Hepburn in perhaps the worst role of her career, and a weird snuff-film subplot straight out of the Psychotronic Encyclopedia--and what kept running through my mind was: HOW did you get a job in an adult book store? I once worked during a Christmas-holiday season at Barnes & Noble, but that's a quite staid and respectable enterprise, nothing to make note of. You really must write your memoirs someday!

    On a cinematic note, I haven't seen this film and I'm kind of torn. While I get a campy thrill out of watching big, glossy, expensive, and overproduced bad movies that overflow with jewels, gowns, and the Beyond-My-Payscale Problems of the Very Very Rich (the kind of schadenfreude fantasies Ross Hunter used to produce), I admit, Bloodline sounds rather dull and not in that league. It seems like it really could have used a Ross Hunter to guide it along. Hunter at least knew the popular taste of his era, and the wish-fulfillment dreams of his audiences. That kind of storytelling seemed to have moved into TV by the 1980s (the Dallas and Dynasty sagas), so it sounds like you're right; Bloodline should have stuck to the small screen. What a shame to waste such juicy material!

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  14. Your first paragraph made me laugh aloud! My life always reads much more interesting than the actual living of it.
    How I got the job was there was this actor named Terence Knox (Tour of Duty) who was my neighbor at the Villa Elaine who worked at the porn place part-time. When he quit the job he told me about it and I think I worked there almost half a year or so while going to film school.
    Not a thrilling job at all except one time playwright/actor George Furth came in and I got all excited and asked for his autograph, but in hindsight I think I embarrassed him.
    All the cataloging of porn somehow came in handy when I worked at a legit book store near the Sunset Strip about a year later.
    Your apprehension regarding BLOODLINE is well-stated, and I think you're on the mark in noting, that outside of a kind of perverse curiosity factor, the film is neither as lively nor trashy as it needs to be to warrant putting up with the tawdry subject matter. You just keep wondering how Hepburn wandered into all of this.
    Thank you for visiting and commenting on so many of my posts. I commend you on making the effort and finding the time. All my favorite blogs (like yours) are on serious backlog...I'm so slow!

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