After the sudden death of her wealthy father, Elizabeth Roffe (Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday) inherits her dad’s pharmaceutical empire, but someone in Elizabeth’s inner circle wants her dead too.
Reaction & Thoughts:
In my hometown we have an old saying: “a monkey dressed in silk is still a monkey.” Despite the all-star cast, despite the elegant sets and chic costumes, despite the glossy camera work and grand music score, Sidney Sheldon’s Bloodline is nothing but trash. Audrey Hepburn’s old-school elegance is the film’s saving grace.
The film fails miserably, though not for lack of talent in front/behind the camera. Bloodline was directed by well-regarded British filmmaker Terence Young (Dr. No) and shot by famed cameraman Freddie Young (Lawrence of Arabia). Ennio Morricone wrote the music score (it’s nearly identical to his score for Exorcist II: The Heretic!). All three gentlemen try to infuse life into the movie.
I can’t fault the stellar cast either. Along with Hepburn, the cast includes Ben Gazzara (Anatomy of a Murder), Omar Sharif (Doctor Zhivago), Irene Papas (Zorba the Greek), Michelle Phillips (TV’s Knots Landing), Romy Schneider (10:30 P.M. Summer), Beatrice Straight (Poltergeist) and Gert Fröbe (Goldfinger) as an inquisitive detective. James Mason (Lolita) is particularly good as a man with a gambling problem.
The movie’s biggest problem is the screenplay. Based, of course, upon Sheldon’s best-selling novel of the same name, Laird Koenig’s (The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane) script is a jumbled mess of ideas that don’t mesh together. It has kinky sex, family bickering, blackmail, etc. It even has a bizarre subplot about a serial killer who makes snuff films! The climax is — I’m not kidding you — like a Carol Burnett parody of Wait Until Dark (1967). It’s all very sloppily put together.
It’s a true miracle that Hepburn is able to give a good, solid performance under these circumstances. Frankly, Hepburn is simply too old to play a naive heiress — it would have made more sense if they had made her character the wife of the dead tycoon. But nothing, not even a horrible script, can extinguish Audrey’s inner flame. It’s pretty extraordinary to see her overcome every obstacle that the film puts in front of her. Hepburn radiates authenticity, and she alone makes you accept the most implausible plot twists.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Bloodline is probably Hepburn’s worst film. I will never understand how she turned down The Exorcist (1973) and The Turning Point (1977), but said yes to this turkey. The fact that she came out unharmed from the experience speaks volumes about her quality as a movie star and actress. Anyhow, like all super-bad movies, Bloodline is (unintentionally) funny and kind of entertaining in a sort of weird way. P.S. A longer cut does exist, but I haven’t been able to locate it. Color, 122 minutes, Rated R.