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1979 - R - 116 Mins.
Director: Terence Young
Producer: Sidney Beckerman, David V. Picker
Written By: Laird Koenig
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Ben Gazzara, Claudia Mori, Irene Papas, Michelle Phillips
Review by: Jake Cremins

Audrey Hepburn recovers after seeing the final cut of 'Bloodline.'
The experience of watching 'Bloodline' is a mighty surreal one, let me tell you, kind of like when you see a movie while battling the flu, or have one of those dreams that's the result of eating too many pickles before going to bed. Allow me to explain. Imagine a film starring Audrey Hepburn, with a supporting cast including Ben Gazzara, James Mason, Omar Sharif, Irene Papas, Romy Schneider, Beatrice Straight and Gert Frobe. A wonderful start, you’ll agree.

Now imagine that it's based on a Sidney Sheldon novel (if you are unfamiliar, just assume that it's a thriller involving the horribly rich, with several scenic shots of various European cities). The name of Sheldon indicates that this will not be a good movie, but at least it will be a glossy one with lots of distinguished actors modeling wardrobes by Givenchy. Right?

Now, imagine that this film has some of the worst photography and editing you have ever seen. Cameras that shakily zoom in and out during scenes for no reason. Other scenes where the camera wanders around as though it's trying to figure out where it is. Shots so brief and meaningless they look as though they were left in the movie accidentally. And a particularly memorable scene where a character is looking at a fire across the street, and this is represented by a) a flaming photograph of a building, with an orange light pointing at it, and b) a shot of the person as (I swear) a film clip of a fire is projected onto them, with "flickering" caused by someone waving their hand in front of the projector.

Imagine that the story plunked in front of the camera is told incomprehensibly, with every unimportant side-story in a 460-page novel crammed into a movie running under two hours, as the main plot remains ignored. Imagine that, in a film about a woman who inherits a pharmaceutical company and finds herself the victim of various attempted murders, this somehow finds time to throw in an endless subplot about her father's diary (made of astonishingly bogus photographs that look like studio stills, and accompanied by voiceover narration that sounds as though it's being spoken through a rolled-up magazine), and a resulting trip to Krakow where we are treated to a long series of flashbacks that explain, none too understandably, how her father became a doctor. If you're already imagining that this has nothing to do with the rest of the movie and is never mentioned again, you're well on your way to never having to experience 'Bloodline' for yourself.

Also imagine that the action stops every once in a while so that we can watch completely unrelated scenes involving a series of prostitutes being strangled to death for snuff films. Imagine that this distasteful subplot--if you can call it that--is never explained or concluded, except in a single shot at the end that you'll miss if you blink, and (I think) a near-death confession so incoherently mumbled that it cannot even be heard.

Audrey Hepburn tried to leave this film when she heard of that last detail, but she shouldn't have worried. Few productions could inspire such sympathy for their actors, who in this case are all too obviously left stranded in an inept, stupid, grubby little film that could not be more poorly made than if the filmmakers deliberately set out to create the worst movie of 1979.

Now, imagine that this is all a big summer release from Paramount, playing in theaters nationwide, with advertising copy detailing the movie's star power and international locations, while carefully and necessarily ignoring that the film is unreleasable garbage. If you do see 'Bloodline,' you will be horribly ripped off, but you'll be taking part in a cinematic experience that is likely never to be replicated. Just don't go if you have the flu, or you may leave the theater to discover that you've died.
Movie Guru Rating
Unwatchable.  One of the worst of the year.  Skip it.
  0.5 out of 5 stars

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