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:


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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 »


References What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) See more »


Somebody Nobody Loves
Written by Sy Miller (as Seymour Miller)
Performed by Peggy Lee
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
See more »

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User Reviews

Sarandon is excellent....
13 February 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

and the pairing of Ralph Fiennes as Bernard Lafferty, her trusted butler and confidante is quite interesting. I have read the biography "Too Rich, the story of Doris Duke", and this film seems by far, more accurate and even amusing (as life often is). If we for example, compare this to the mediocre Lauren Bacall version, which does not portray Lafferty as human, rather as a murderous bottom-feeder. Too extreme, and probably unrealistic.

Yes, Ms. Duke did apparently have a very unusual life, but we see her here, as Sarandon plays here, she also enjoyed and cherished life. We see her working fervently on her orchids, all the foundations she was passionate about, and her general intelligence. She was clearly a brilliant businesswoman, as Lafferty interjects.

This film portrays real people, yes, she had an issue with drinking, as did Lafferty. However there was a tenderness and relationship which seemed to have developed between the two. Overall an interesting commentary with excellent performances and lush cinematography, attention to set decoration. 9/10.

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