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When "Bloodline" was released in 1979, a major magazine review pointed out that in the course of the story, ostensibly for failure to pay a gambling debt, a character's knees are nailed to the floor. The critic then went on to say, `This is what Paramount Pictures is going to have to do to get audiences to sit through this picture.' There aren't enough negative things to say about this abomination of a movie. The meandering, incoherent story is hampered at every turn by ludicrously bad production values. The direction, the inept blocking of the scenes, the lighting, the sets in every case conspires to make the results look cheap and hollow. The movie is really a miracle of dreadfulness. The following is one of thousand small crimes against cinema throughout the picture: There is an explosion in the street. This is conveyed by a flash of light on the actors in the scene and a sound effect. The next shot, meant to be the view of the street from the window, is a still photograph beneath which someone is apparently waving a lit piece of paper. Just before the cut from this scene, the photograph actually starts to buckle from the heat of the flame. And the filmmakers left this in the film! The real crime against cinema is the fact that the name of Audrey Hepburn is associated with this repugnant film, a monstrosity so putrid, one wishes every single copy of it would magically disappear.
It was said that midway through shooting "Bloodline" Audrey Hepburn
realized what a horrible and degrading movie this was going to be and
desperately wanted to get out of it, but she was under contract and had no
When you see this movie you will realize exactly why she felt so bad about making it. The absolute only reason to watch "Bloodline" is to see how Audrey Hepburn aged like fine wine.
I enjoyed this movie! Any time Audrey Hepburn graced the screen was an occasion and for her to be paired with Ben Gazzara made this movie extra special for me. The story is interesting; the scenery is beautiful; a delightful romance develops; and who could forget Omar Shariff's shenanigans with his wife, his daughters and his mistresses? I do not wish that every single copy would disappear - I wish that they would put it on DVD. In fact, I have an excellent copy on VHS that I taped from TV. I have tried to copy it on my DVD recorder but they marked it so that it cannot be copied. I don't understand this practice but that has nothing to do with this movie! Sidney Sheldon is an excellent storyteller - and this one is no exception. As pointed out by another reviewer here, there may be cinematic flaws and shortcuts in this film - I did not notice them. I was much too engrossed in the story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Following the release of Wait Until Dark (1967) and the break-up of her
marriage to Mel Ferrer, Audrey Hepburn retired from the screen. By the
mid 1970s her subsequent marriage, to Rome-based psychiatrist Andrea
Dotti, had become strained and this is often cited as one of the
reasons for her decision to resume her acting career. It may also
account for the fact that her choice of material was so ill-judged.
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.
I had the good fortune as a teenager to sit through "Bloodline" each day or night for the week it ran in Freeport, Illinois. Later, when I ran away to NYC, I watched it again on my first little screen in a tiny, sloped theater-in-a-complex. I scoured Central Park for one of the scenes shot there against a graffiti-dusted bridge. Ahh... It was my last fix for a while on what chic is, what perseverance, trust and fabulous Parisian locales can do for a lost soul... Then I ran away to France. It would a few more years before I made it to Paris, but when I did I searched out Hotel de Crillion, Maxim's, Notre Dame. The Sydney Sheldon book was a bore compared to the film. Seeing these great international actors together -- Romy "Shrew in Silk" Schneider and Irene "Show me your back!" Papas, for example -- gave me a great shot of what it must be like to tread life's waters in Gucci and Bulgari (back when Gucci didn't seem so silly (watch out! is Chanel next?)) This film, about the Roffe Pharmaceutical heiress (Audrey Hepburn)tagged for murder because she won't go public with the stock market, has a great soundtrack, with lovely resolution, and if you can get the album or CD you'll catch a funky tune not used in the film. All those bits of different languages, different people: "Kennst du dieser Mann?" "They make cheese!" "Poland? This time of year?". What about that tacky snuff-murder sidebar (Roffe's film stock is being used to discredit the company)? You have to admit that that bald man is a hotty. I am in a whirl of support for this little picture and I'd see it again and again. Sometimes the best teachers in life are lurking in the cinema. It's not just about art! Look at Audrey's friendship with her Dad's aide, Beatrice Straight. What about that "senseless" death when Audrey goes back to get earrings? The cool unfolding opening credits and shocking change in music? And I could write a book on all that absolutely fabulous Givenchy clothing!!! The velvet applique and crystal-studded gown she wears to meet Gazzara (another hotty) at the "Guess who?" restaurant? How about the OD green wool cape as she meets about a new formula that can save Roffe? How about her chic sweater and cords as she crawls across the imbricated roof of that villa in Sardinia? Reprising the Jewish ghetto in Crakow? Horses and syringes? The ubiquitous tied-up silk robe Audrey wears? Count me in! This was one of her best "adult" roles. She got a million bucks to do it, it gave her family even more security, and I say she infused the project with inestimable elan. It is a satisfying and slightly sickening love story. Long live Audrey Hepburn! (May she rest in peace.)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At the end of the 70's making a movie in Hollywood and Europe was not easy! Looking back one can see that an era of old movie making was coming to an end and a new era was starting! In Europe with the downfall of European cinema, and especially Italian movie making at Cinecitta, movie producers were forced to make movies with actors from different countries as it was in this case like Romy Schneider and Gert Fröbe for Germany, Audrey Hepburn and Ben Gazarra for US, Omar Sharif and Irene Papas for Greece and Egypt,... if they would like to sell their movie. Movies were not made in first instance for the cinema's anymore but for the commercial television stations that started to pop up everywhere over Europe due to the end of state television in a lot of European countries. In Hollywood, it was also the end of era around 1979. Producers, actors, actresses that made it big in the 50's-70's period were getting older together with their audience and it was getting more difficult to find good material for them. Classic stories are those of for example Rock Hudson, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Liz Taylor, Richard Burton,... On the other hand new actors, directors and producers were entering the field like Spielberg with Jaws focusing more on the action cinema than the character driven story or actors. From that moment on it was down hill for old school movie making. The death of classic cinema came with the introduction of CGI where we are today with almost only action cinema. Other movies are hardly ever made. So in this light the movie Bloodline is a prime example of a movie at the end of the golden era of Hollywood with classic actors like Hepburn, Mason, Schneider, Sharif, Papas, Fröbe...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Exactly what anyone was thinking during the making of this movie isn't
actually clear as the movie has no idea what it's trying to be, or the
audience it's trying to attract.
The list of well known actors coupled with the story line of inheriting a multi-million dollar company (ie. instant wealth) read like a trashy $2 novel, which is what I'm assuming this whole thing was based on, but then they thrown in a snuff-movie sub plot with splashes of nudity. It's like they have one aspect to get in the 70's era middle aged tabloid mag reading women, and then the other so that their bored husbands will have something to oggle and remember the movie by as well.
For starters the editing of the movie is terrible. Scene's just happen, and then are followed up by completely different scene's in different locations. At the start of the movie they actually tried to provide some flow to the story, but by about a third of the way through no attempt to portray any sort of time scale or transition between scene's is provided.
Audrey Hepburn, the main draw card for the movie, is treated almost like a child actor in this. The film tries to re-live scene's she's played out in older movies when she was much younger: eg. when she jumps onto the bed to make a phone call only to find that the phone is dead. This might have worked if the film was a light hearted music love story like the films which made her famous, but this was meant to be during a dramatic and dangerous scene, so it just ends up looking extremely staged and comical (bordering on silly). The one saving grace is that you get to hear her call Ben Gazzara a 'bastard', which in her distinctly European tongue sounds just gold. So roughly, the movies lead actress's high point is when she calls another actor an expletive. Not exactly star studded cinema here.
The biggest gripe I have with ANY of the acting in this movie is how no one actually says anything to anyone. People are dying, mullions are being lost and a huge global enterprise is crumbling .. but everyone DEMANDS that they speak about things 'later'. Why did the brakes fail ?? .. I'll tell you later. When are we going to make a decision ?? .. we'll do that later. Who's the killer ?? .. I'll tell you later.
For people who are fearing for their lives they certainly seem to have more important things to do then actually work out what the hell is going on around them. 'I'm sorry I'm too rich to die now, please kill me later on when it's more dramatic'.
Then we come to the movies snuff-p0rn sub-plot. Exactly what the hell is going on in these scene's is hard to say. They contain NONE of the major actors and so look like they were tacked onto the movie in the editing stage, and seem to happen only through-out the course of the movie to keep some sort of 'threat' level present since the actors are so busy worrying about minor things that the audience might forget that DEATH AND MURDER is actually occurring.
The whole point of the snuff-movie sub-plot it seems is to show that one person is, in fact, the killer. But this, in fact, makes almost no sense since the supposed killer didn't actually kill any of the women, and thus far no one has even been able to pin any of the other deaths on him either (or anyone else). So he's shot because he has a red ribbon in his hands.
'Inspector can you prove this man killed anyone or actually did anything bad ?'
'No your honour but out of all the circumstantial evidence I've collected and been bam-boozled with, this guy's right at the top of the list.'
'Good enough for me Inspector, your free to go. Please feel free to shoot anyone else you think could possibly have maybe done something.'
If you really feel it warranted that you MUST watch this movie, please look out for the following highlights of cinematic and acting glory : 1. Audrey Hepburn sitting on a bouncy seat in a studio while a car crash scene plays out behind her (hilarity on a grand scale) 2. The Inspector talking with a computer .. again and again and again .. all of which is inconclusive.
3. Ben Gazzara displaying his obvious American-ism to Europeans by saying 'Jesus' at inappropriate times.
4. Really bad stock footage of an old F1 race edited seamlessly (cough) into the movie with the volume cranked up to 11.
5. The Inspectors hilarious attempts to hold a rifle during the final climactic scene (seriously, you can see the fear of god in the eyes of the police officers standing around him) 6. The 'building burning' scene which looks like a photo with a match under it.
7. The fact that the entire building looks like it has exploded and burnt down the previous scene / photo .. yet no one seems to really care in the following scene's.
8. The snuff-movie sub plot which makes no sense and seems to be the movies only real talking point (both for it's strange inclusion and for the way it sticks out like a sore thumb compared to everything else that's going on).
9. The cut scene's to Roffe's senior's early life .. which just sort of 'happen' to a back ground of Audrey walking around an old castle looking confused (I was looking confused after watching that scene as well though).
10. The 'over this way there's much the same' comment from Ben Gazzara during Audrey's tour of the drug factory (The actor summed up a pointless scene even before the audience had a chance too).
Regarding "Sidney Sheldon's Bloodline", I'd like to correspond to Paramount and inquire why not re-edit the film (remaster), and create a SPECIAL EDITION, maybe with deleted scenes (with Ursula Buchfellner and Eleonore Melzer, which were cut), and commentary. I read parts of the book, and like the book, but the movie, when I watched it in the theater back in 1979, it made no sense, and was confusing, particularly with the Snuff films. The book lets you know WHY these films are created, as with the movie, you wonder why?! OR: remake the movie the way the book is! Great cast, but overall, movie STINKS! Anyway, anybody know the address to write to Sidney Sheldon so I can ask him?! Thank you.
It seems best to consider Richard Lester's lovely "Robin and Marian"
Audrey Hepburn's swansong."Bloodline " is the most distressingly
mediocre movie she ever made.
Terence Young had already directed the actress in the excellent thriller "wait until dark" ,a film which compares favorably with Hitchcock's "rear window" .So it was only natural that they teamed up again .
The screenplay is a mess,a disaster ,and it's more complicated than complex.Full of plot holes,of implausibilities (the fabulously rich heiress ,after several murder attempts does not even think of hiring a bodyguard!),and see how Young even copies himself for the last sequence where Hepburn is alone in the house ,of course in the dark,like in the 1967 highly superior effort.
An absurd international cast gives the coup de grâce to the movie: Americans (Ben Gazzara),English (James Mason),Germans (Romy Schneider,Gert Froebe),French (Maurice Ronet) ,Greeks (Irene Pappas),Egyptians (Omar Sharif).All are given lousy parts .They are supposed to be the suspects of a whodunit.
I checked this film out because I had read how terrible it was. And it was terrible. It seems to be that with the amount of talent that was wasted in this film, that somewhere something good could have come about it. But the dialogue was so laughable, and poor Audrey Hepburn looking very foolish. The end of the film is lifted (in bad taste) right from another Hepburn film called Charade. At the end you have no idea what is going on, or why the building is on fire, or why people are dying left and right. Ben Gazarra, James Mason, Beatrice Straight and Heburn are all wasted. Find another murder mystery instead of this clunker.
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