The story of the twilight years of tobacco billionairness Doris Duke and her relationship with her gay butler, to whom she left her entire fortune.




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Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 29 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
First Butler
Security Guard
Marilyn Torres ...
Nick Rolfe ...
Board Member
Thomas J. McGrath ...
Board Member
Gene Parseghian ...
Board Member
Henry Schleiff ...
Board Member
Board Member
Kunnath P. Namboodiri ...


Sympathetic look loosely based on the relationship between tobacco heiress, Doris Duke (1912-1993) - think Duke University - and her shy butler, Bernard Lafferty. The icy and mercurial Duke fires her butler for serving a chilled cantaloupe; the agency sends Lafferty, formerly household staff to Liz Taylor and to Peggy Lee. He's an alcoholic, fresh out of rehab. He gradually becomes Duke's gay alter ego as she romps through life sleeping with young men, making shrewd decisions quickly, managing her fortune and orchids as Lafferty manages her New Jersey estate. With a wine cellar to die for, Bernard falls off the wagon. Can he pull himself together when Doris needs him? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

butler | gay | fortune | alcoholic | wine | See All (176) »


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Parents Guide:






Release Date:

17 October 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bernard e Doris - O Mordomo e a Milionária  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Susan Sarandon owns the dog who plays Doris' pet. The dog's name is Penny, a Pomeranian Maltese. See more »


"She said it was important. 'Perhaps I will get the feeling back ..." It's the same body of a newspaper article for two different articles. Around 23 minutes into movie. One article had headline of Doris Duke attending opening with Leonard Bernstein. The second headline was her buying a Boeing 737 for $25 million. See more »


[first lines]
Doris Duke: Ugh! What is this?
First Butler: Cantaloupe, ma'am.
See more »


Featured in The 60th Primetime Emmy Awards (2008) See more »


The Best Is Yet to Come
Written by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh
Performed by Peggy Lee
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI Film & Television Music
See more »

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User Reviews

Balaban, high production standards,
9 February 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I wasn't sold on the idea of watching a film about a rich weirdo and the lawsuits that entail, post-mortem, ala "LIFETIME" nightly movies. I wanted to see Ralph work with Susan, but I still wouldn't have watched unless I researched the production of "Bernard and Doris". I saw Bob Balaban is directing.

I've never seen Bob Balaban's work as director. I've enjoyed all of Bob's acting credits which I've seen, particularly his improvisational skills in recent SCTV/Spinal Tap-quality films. I figure Bob knows the HW weirdness like nobody else due to his insightful improvisations. He gets it.

Therefore, he could do it, and bring it in below budget.

Great direction: Lighting and cinematography were far better than recent films I paid money for. I haven't seen Ralph perform this well since QUIZ SHOW, but he brought his talents to what was clearly a communal table of talent.

Susan Sarandon does very well, and the Susan/Ralph team works. The script works, and sells the story.

Balaban seems to have done much more with far less than this film portends to be, even for an HBO FILM.

17 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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