- Movie Rating -

Sidney Sheldon’s Bloodline (1979)

| June 29, 1979

I never read a Sidney Sheldon book.  When I was a kid, they were the books that my mom’s friends were forever reading, books with the flowery covers and silly titles like “If Tomorrow Never Comes.”  I knew they were trash even at a young age.  I also remember the adaptations because they were always being advertised with big stars and  

One that comes to mind was Bloodline, which featured a poster that scared me.  It featured a darkened image of a women seen from the nose down with a ribbon around her neck and I thought her through had been cut.  Holding that image in my memory for years after, I eventually saw the movie, and boy, is it terrible.

In the first place, it is a waste of the time and talent of the great Audrey Hepburn who, now approaching 50, had limited the number of roles that she accepted, opting instead to spend more time with her family.  By 1979, she hadn’t made a movie since Robin and Marian three years later and hadn’t made a movie before that since Wait Until Dark in 1967.  Needless-to-say, to waste her in such trash is really a travesty.

Pried from a book that I understand was one of Sheldon’s lesser works, she plays Elizabeth Roffe, the heiress to a multi-million-dollar pharmaceutical company and after her father Sam is murdered while mountain climbing.  Elizabeth denies the wishes of the family to take the company public despite her father’s wishes.  Added to this, her father’s accident is now being investigated as a murder under the direction of a detective (Gert Frobe) that Elizabeth has hired.  Additionally, she suspects that one of her cousins may be trying to do the same to her to gain the inheritance.  Of course, all of the cousins are wallowing in one scandalous mudpuddle or the other, everything from debt to public shame to adultery. 

There’s Alec (James Mason), a compulsive gambler who is so far in debt to his creditors that he placates them by getting his wife Vivien (Michelle Phillips) to keep them at bay – and not with her social skills. There’s Helena, a self-involved bitch who is going broke due to her husband’s failing vineyard.  There’s Ivo (Omar Sharif) and lecherous adulterer who would rather keep his wife and their three children from knowing about his girlfriend and their three children.  And there’s Rhys Williams (Ben Gazarra) a slicko who has a weakness for women.

These people are nauseating and one wants to see them all go down for something, but the movie cheats.  Instead of letting us figure out which of the cousins might be guilty, the story instead throws a curveball – a killer who at frequent intervals throughout the picture strangles naked women to death in sexy, lurid and luxuriating fashion.  The camera leers at the women’s bodies while they die naked and afraid – it’s that kind of picture.

What happens to Elizabeth and her fortune are of no real concern because the movie isn’t really pulling us along.  There’s no mystery to solve and the characters are so empty and shallow that we can’t be bothered to care.  This is a scummy, worthless little thriller that doesn’t have the decency to be good trash.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1979) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized