‘…a glutinous, nasty soap-opera worth commending to bad movie fans…’

There was no mention of Audrey Hepburn’s comeback vehicle from 1979 in this week’s new documentary about her life, and unsuspecting viewers will find out why if they give Terence Young’s widely-forgotten thriller a whirl. This is a perfectly abject, yet genuinely entertainingly bad venture playing to the weaknesses of all concerned. Sure, you like Audrey Hepburn, but would you cast her in a giallo about snuff movies? Throw in some jarring sex scenes which reflect the wrong-headed belief in the late 70’s that sex would help sell a tired Sidney Sheldon adaptation like this, and the soufflé fails to rise. Why not garnish with an Ennio Morricone soundtrack that side-tracks into vapour-wave techno, then simmer on a low heat with an incredible cast (Gert Frobe, Omar Sharif, James Mason, Ben Gazzara) and you’ve got a genuine dumpster fire to warm yourself by.

Hepburn sets aside her dignity to play Elizabeth Roffe, whose father ran a huge big-pharma company until his death in a climbing accident. Elizabeth takes over, dazzling the board with her acumen, but gradually becoming aware that her father was the victim of industrial espionage. It turns out that her company’s film stock has been used for a series of filmed prostitute murders, and Elizabeth has to figure out who amongst the board are the culprits. Of course, they make a right bodge of killing her off, tampering with the brakes of her big yellow car when it seems much simpler just to bump her off as easily as everyone else.

That scenario eventually settles to a lot of Hepburn wandering around deserted factories while trying to identify her mystery assailant. The star still looks great, and has a chic wardrobe to boot, and the glamorous European locations sweeten the deal. The dialogue, however, is very much of the ‘Godammit Marjorie’ boardroom shenanigans level, and while this might have been an airport bestseller, it translates to the screen as turgid in Young’s hands.

Bloodline is a bad film, but attractive in its wrong-header adherence to an adult entertainment formula. It’s a dud, sure, but it’s incredibly glossy, packed with the stars of yesteryear, and the score is striking, although not always for the right reasons. Everyone concerned quickly moved on, but Bloodline captures a grasping Hollywood machine in full malfunction mode, a glutinous, nasty soap-opera worth commending to bad movie fans.


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  1. I don’t know what “vapour-wave techno” actually is, but I like the sound of those words all put together. I’m guessing some sort of new age synth music?

    Also, what qualifies as a bad movie fan? Am I a bad movie fan since I only irregularly watch anything at all? Or is a bad movie fan someone who deliberately, against all common sense, good taste and maturity, seeks out bad movies? Seems like there should be a bounty on people like that…

    • You’re close. Has an 80’s vibe, synth heavy, some good stuff out there and fun to hear Morricone doing it in the 70’s.

      There are many reasons to watch something, not just because it’s bad or good. I’m less interested in the consensus of quality than whether it engages me. I generally don’t publish one or two star reviews because these films are just dull. Films that swing for the fences; there’s a spectacle either way.

  2. A sad nope. Watched a bit of the video where she’s having a tour of the pill factory, and her hair is all wrong. I wouldn’t want to watch Audrey demean herself, had she run out of money?

    • That’s the best bit! 20 mins in, with the mad techno music and the Inside the Factory vibe. I can’t think what posessed her to make this movie, but she quickly saw the error of her own ways and jacked it in for better things. The Jan Leeming hairdo isn’t a winner either…

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