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RICH AND FAMOUS

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: As you will see by the review below, published in the Deseret News on Oct. 7, 1981, I am not a fan of ‘Rich and Famous.’ But someone is, judging from its current reissue on DVD by the Warner Archive label, hence its inclusion here.

Though admittedly a remake of the 1943 Bette Davis-Miriam Hopkins film “Old Acquaintance,” “Rich and Famous” is bound to remind moviegoers more of the more recent “Turning Point.”

But “Rich and Famous” is poor and boring, a sleazy, ridiculous exploration of the lives two women over a 20-year period that becomes merely an excuse to tie together a number of unrelated, lurid set pieces.

Jacqueline Bisset stars, and gives a good performance, as Liz Hamilton, a serious feminist novelist whose first book wins national awards and gives her fame. Candice Bergen co-stars, and gives a terrible performance, as Merry Noel Blake, a housewife who decides to try her hand at writing and achieves fame and wealth as an author of trashy, shaded-exposé novels.

     

Candice Bergen, left, Jacqueline Bisset, a 'Rich and Famous' lobby card

The two have been friends since rooming together in college and each approaches life very differently — unfortunately, neither approach is the slightest bit believable.

Directed by George Cukor, with all kinds of rumors to the effect that he was actually too frail to handle the job and others stepped in for him (Cukor, at 82, is America’s oldest living active film director).

“Rich and Famous” shows nothing of the Cukor wit and style so evident in his classic former works, ranging from “The Philadelphia Story” to “Love Among the Ruins.”

The pace is sluggish, the screaming matches between Bisset and Bergen seem to come out of nowhere and Bergen overacts and allows her Southern accent to come and go during various speeches.

     

Uncredited co-producer and star Jacqueline Bisset confers with director George Cukor on the set of 'Rich and Famous.'

Though episodic in nature, since it spans so long a period of time, there seems to be no cohesion here at all, and despite the earnest efforts of other talents in the cast — most notably Bisset, David Selby as Bergen’s husband and Hart Bochner as a young Rolling Stone reporter who has an affair with Bisset — the script is simply insurmountable.

Add to that a number of uncomfortable, ill-fitting moments: a sex scene on a jumbo jet (totally unbelievable and apparently designed to gain a reputation for the scene, if not the movie), Bisset’s encounter with a teenage stud who follows her to her hotel room, and the very idea that Bergen’s sixth book and her first attempt at serious writing would automatically win the top national writing award.

“Rich and Famous” is rated R for explicit sex and profanity; in this case, the R could as easily stand for redundant, reprehensible and ridiculous.