Saturday 16 July 2022

Movie Review: Bloodline (1979)

A so-bad-it's-almost-good crime and business drama, Bloodline is a dressed-up pig choking on layers of glossy lipstick.

When her tycoon father dies while mountain climbing, Elizabeth Roffe (Audrey Hepburn) inherits a financially troubled pharmaceutical empire. Corporate lawyer Rhys Williams (Ben Gazzara) appears to be her trusted advisor, while the board of directors is stacked with greedy cousins including British aristocrat Sir Alec Nichols (James Mason), racing driver Hélène Martin (Romy Schneider), and two-timing lothario Ivo Palazzi (Omar Sharif).

The cousins and/or their spouses and lovers all have financial troubles and pressure Elizabeth to float the company to raise funds. She resists, determined to protect her father's family-ownership legacy. Inspector Max Hornung (Gert Fröbe) finds evidence Elizabeth's father was murdered, and her life is soon in danger. Meanwhile, prostitutes are being killed during the filming of snuff porn movies under the watchful eyes of a mystery man.

It's unfortunate one of Audrey Hepburn's final roles landed in a Sidney Sheldon novel adaptation, her presence and expensive gowns consumed by rubbish. A plastic script by Laird Koenig is mishandled by director Terence Young, and any potential for quality is eradicated by botched editing. Even the usually reliable Ennio Morricone flounders, his music score unmemorable and unsuitable. The international cast members (also including Irene Papas, Claudia Mori, Michelle Phillips, Maurice Ronet, and Beatrice Straight) go through the mechanical motions, spouting lines with television-level efficiency and a bewildering lack of conviction, eyes firmly on cashing the cheque.  

Elizabeth invests her time traveling for no purpose between European cities, with one particularly awful detour to Poland, where amateurish flashbacks are supposed to capture key moments (involving a horse and big needle) from her father's formative years. Somehow, Poland of the 1940s here resembles the Middle Ages. When not in jet-set and time-travel mode, Elizabeth is dodging an unseen assassin in repetitive but tension-free close-calls. The rest of the characters personify Eurotrash in action, unhappy women spending money their incompetent and philandering husbands do not have, while everyone tries to keep up appearances.

An irrelevant snuff movie subplot is wedged into the drama, providing Young an excuse for superfluous nudity and titillation. And adding a final bizarre tone, Inspector Hornung spends most of his scenes talking to a computer, which seems to have all the answers but only reveals them at the necessary pace to prolong the movie. 

Hardened by ineptitude, Bloodline is an embarrassing stain.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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