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RICH AND FAMOUS: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Liz Hamilton (Jacqueline Bisset)and Merry Noel Blake (Candice Bergen) have been friends since school. Liz becomes a member of New York's literary establishment and Merry Noel Blake (Candice Bergen) has become a best-selling novelist living in Malibu and married to her first love, Doug (David Selby). Their friendship changes through the years even as their lives intertwine; there are many ups and downs.

Review by Louise Keller:
Notable for being George Cukor's last film and the debut for Meg Ryan in a small role, this saga about two friends falls short of heartfelt and never satisfies. Based on a play by John Van Druten, Gerald Ayres's screenplay is fragmented as we jump in time from the late 50s to the 80s. While we can understand and like Jacqueline Bisset's Liz, Candice Bergen's Merry is a brittle, tiresome woman; their friendship is a puzzle. Bergen's shrill Southern accent irritates throughout.

When we first meet the two girls, they are having a tearful farewell at the railway station. Merry is running away to marry Doug (David Selby) and years pass before we meet them again. The first inkling we have of the underlying rivalry between Liz and Merry comes when Liz visits their beachfront Malibu house. 'All the good things happen to you,' Liz tells Merry, when she sees her domestic happiness with husband and young daughter. We also sense the unspoken attraction between Liz and Doug. 'They ought to warn you before falling in love for the first time,' Liz tells Doug 'you can pick the most awful one and you never recover'.

Jealousy oozes like a bad smell when Liz reads Merry's manuscript of her novel whose characters she has based on local celebrities. But success does not bring Merry happiness; she becomes brittle and drives her frustrated husband to drink. Liz, meanwhile, is continually unhappy in love. She becomes a member of the mile high club in a fleeting encounter, has sex with Matt Lattanzi's gigolo at New York's Algonquin Club and an affair with Rolling Stone journalist Chris (Hart Bochner). The scene in which they meet is one of the film's best, when she says of the magazine: 'the utterances of those who cannot speak written for those who cannot write for those who cannot read'.

The sex scenes are gratuitous, although we are interested in Liz, and Bisset is vulnerable and appealing. The major confrontation between the women finally comes and the teddy bear which had been the symbol of their friendship is torn to shreds - as is their relationship. There is a good sense of place however: New York, Connecticut and Malibou offer their distinctive personalities. Ryan plays Merry's rebellious daughter in a relatively inconsequential role, and trivia lovers will be interested to know that this was Lattanzi's next role after Xanadu.

Published June 12, 2008

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

RICH AND FAMOUS: DVD (M)
(US, 1981)

CAST: Jacqueline Bisset, Candice Bergen, David Selby, Hart Bochner, Steven Hill, Meg Ryan, Matt Lattanzi

PRODUCER: William Allyn, Jacqueline Bisset

DIRECTOR: George Cukor

SCRIPT: Gerald Ayres (play by John Van Druten)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Donald Peterman

EDITOR: John F. Burnett

MUSIC: Georges Delerue

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jan Scott

RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: On location with the Rich and Famous

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: June 2, 2008







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