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Monday, July 31, 2017

The Betsy (1978)

The aging head (Laurence Olivier) of an automobile conglomerate wants one more opportunity at greatness with a revolutionary new car named after his granddaughter (Kathleen Beller). However, his grandson (Robert Duvall) who is the president of the company vehemently opposes the idea as not financially sound. The bad blood between the two will play out in blackmail, murder and divided loyalties. Based on the novel by that purveyor of trash Harold Robbins (THE CARPETBAGGERS) and directed by Daniel Petrie (FORT APACHE THE BRONX). The film goes back and forth between the 1930s and the 1970s with enough material crammed in to make a mini-series. This is one of Olivier's late life "paycheck" movies and he's the reason to see the movie. He hams it up shamefully (and more full of life than the rest of the cast) but he seems to be having such a good time that it's infectious. Petrie is too tasteful for a project like this, it could have used a little more flash. Curiously, the cinematography by Mario Tosi (CARRIE) is all soft focus as if filmed through a nylon stocking. I could see why perhaps for the 1930s sequence where Olivier is supposed to be 40 years younger but the whole movie is shot that way. There's a lovely score by John Barry. The impressive cast includes Tommy Lee Jones, Katharine Ross, Jane Alexander, Joseph Wiseman, Lesley Anne Down, Edward Herrmann, Inga Swenson, Whitney Blake and Paul Rudd (no, not that one!).

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