Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

BLOODLINE


BLOODLINE (1979). Director: Terence Young.

"People who don't pay up end with their knees nailed to the floor."

When her father, the head of an international pharmaceutical firm, is murdered, Elizabeth Roffe (Audrey Hepburn) takes over the company with the help of Rhys Williams (Ben Gazzara), whom she marries. But virtually all of the board members, all of whom are Elizabeth's relatives, are desperate for money, and appalled that she refuses to make the firm public, whereupon they could get ready cash. Before long, there are several attempts on Elizabeth's life, including an elevator crash that kills her secretary (Beatrice Straight). Who is the culprit: Ivo (Omar Sharif), whose mistress is demanding money; Helene (Romy Schneider), a ruthless race car driver; Sir Alec (James Mason), whose wife (Michelle Phillips) has run up huge gambling debts; or someone else? And who is responsible for the murders of several young women in snuff films? Certainly an entertaining movie could have been made from Sidney Sheldon's absorbing page-turner, but this is a by-the-numbers effort with some unfortunate casting, slack direction, and an obnoxious musical score by Ennio Morricone, who simply layers the same treacly tune over every scene whether appropriate or not. Gert Frobe from Goldfinger plays an inspector who tries to track down the culprit. Director Young seems to have forgotten all he knew about directing, and despite an okay climax, Bloodline has virtually no suspense. The aforementioned elevator crash sequence is so brief and inept that it's positively comical. The best passages in the book, which concern Elizabeth's grandfather's ordeals in a Polish ghetto and the origins of Roffe Industries, get only a little screen time. This was sort of the second "comeback" picture for Hepburn, who gives a competent performance and looks good, if a little scary-skinny with, as one viewer put it, "ribs up to her neck." James Mason positively walks off with the picture, which is no surprise.

Verdict: So much happening and still so dull. **.

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