Bloodline (1979) was Hepburn's second 'comeback' movie and appeared three years after the underrated 'Robin and Marian'. Based on a novel by Sidney Sheldon it can be compared in many ways to The Adventurers (1970). Both are based on trashy bestsellers, both feature journeyman multi-national casts, both are directed by James Bond series veterans and both benefit from the services of first-rate cinematographers in Bloodline's case Freddie Young, David Lean's regular cameraman, who previously worked with his namesake Terence on You Only Live Twice. (Trivia note: Sean Ferrer, Hepburn's eldest son, would later work as an assistant director on Terence Young's Korean War epic 'Inchon'). Both movies were poorly received and both have enduringly awful critical reputations.
So is Bloodline that bad? Well, it isn't very good but bear in mind that it dates from an era when the notion of 'guilty pleasures' was unknown. The movie opens fairly well with the murder of pharmaceutical magnate Sam Roffe and the inheritance by his daughter Elizabeth (Hepburn) of his Zurich-based empire. We are then introduced to Elizabeth's cousins (Sharif, Schneider, Mason) all of whom, we later find out, have reasons for wanting her dead. So far so good but unfortunately things don't stay that way for long. There is a long, redundant (and excruciatingly poorly acted) sequence detailing the birth of the Roffe empire which really drags things down. Scenes become increasingly disjointed at one point, following the murder of one of the company's research scientists, Hepburn yells "I want them out!", a statement which makes no sense whatsoever unless you've read the book, in which case you'll know she's referring to the security personnel who've failed to protect the murdered man. Bloodline bears all the signs of heavy cutting, indeed one source (Leonard Maltin) says that 40 minutes were added to the movie's first network showing. Even if this footage were to be restored for a DVD release, it is doubtful given the quality of that which remains, that Bloodline would suddenly turn into a masterpiece.
For a movie with a fairly reasonable budget (Hepburn's Givenchy-designed wardrobe reportedly cost $100,000, and she does look great) it looks remarkably shoddy in places (witness the back projection during the Le Mans sequence) and with a couple of exceptions (Hepburn and Schneider, who is delicious as a Contessa de Sade-type) the performances are strictly one-dimensional. Ennio Morricone's score is effective, especially during the striking main title sequence, but is disappointingly uneven overall.
Lovers of eurotrash will lap Bloodline up, but even they may find it a bit heavy going. Recommended with strong reservations 5/10.