Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Honeypot, 1967

THE HONEYPOT, filmed in Venice in 1966 and released in 1967, is a choice treat now, an acid comedy by Mankiewicz with  great role for Rex Harrison and three super ladies: Susan Hayward, Capucine and Edie Adams with two rising players on the sidelines: Maggie Smith (already a scene stealer as she proved in THE VIPs and THE PUMPKIN EATER) and Cliff Robertson. Its lensed by ace cameraman Gianni Di Venanzo and looks great. Talky yes, but when Mank is scripting and Rex and Maggie saying the lines bliss is assured. 

Inspired by a performance of his favorite play, Ben Johnson's "Volpone," Cecil Fox (Rex Harrison) devises an intricate plan to trick three of his former mistresses into believing he is dying at his opulent home in Venice. Fox hires William McFly (Cliff Robertson), a man of many trades including being a sometime actor to act as his secretary. Though the women have vast fortunes of their own, Fox depends on their greediness to bring them running. There is Merle McGill (Edie Adams), a Hollywood sex symbol; Princess Dominique (Capucine), who once took a cruise on Fox's yacht; and Lone Star Crockett (Susan Hayward), a Texas hypochondriac who travels with her nurse Sarah (Maggie Smith). 
As Fox and McFly act out their charade, Lone Star states to the other women that she is the only one entitled to the inheritance since she is Fox's common-law wife. Later that night as Sarah and William go out for drinks where Sarah tells of her daily routine of walking Lone Star at 3:00 AM to give her more sleeping pills to get through the night, William then excuses himself to make a phone call and Sarah, tired from her travels slips off to sleep for about an hour. When Lone Star is found dead later that morning from an overdose, Sarah immediately suspects William. Her suspicions are confirmed when she finds the roll of quarters missing from Lone Star’s bag in William’s room. 
She confronts William with her findings and he promptly locks her in her room demanding she keep her mouth shut about the whole situation. Fearing that William will now kill Fox, she uses the dumbwaiter that connects her room to his to pull herself up and warn him. Fox both praises her intellect and her stupidity, leaving Sarah slightly confused but relieved that she has forewarned Fox.
But Fox has one more trick up his sleeve, and Lone Star gets the last word in ..... to say any more would spoil the surprise. 
Harrison, in his fourth outing with Mankiewicz, relishes the witty dialogue, the three woman are all up to their usual level, though we do not see too much of Hayward as Lone Star. Her husband back in Georgia USA died during the shoot, and old pal Mank may have released her early so she could return home ... Capucine displays her usual haughly elegance and glamour as the impoverished princess, and Edie is as amusing as she was in LOVER COME BACK or LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER
Maggie of course compels all the attention whenever she is on, particularly her scenes with Rex.   Its all probably a bit too talky and high-faluting for some, but certainly a treat if one is in the mood and ready to spend time with these fascinating people .... 
Susan went on to give us her Helen Lawson later that year in VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, but thats another post. Maggie of course later played nurse/companion to Bette Davis in DEATH ON THE NILE in 1978 where both were very droll. Mank had one more hit in store: SLEUTH in 1972. We love him of course for LETTER TO 3 WIVES, ALL ABOUT EVE, THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA, CLEOPATRA, THE GHOST & MRS MUIR etc, as per reviews, at label. Its a good late role for Rex too, after his Caesar for Mank in CLEOPATRA, THE YELLOW ROLLS ROYCE and MY FAIR LADY - unless one counts DR DOLITTLE or, heaven forbid, STAIRCASE

1 comment:

  1. Despite all the talent involved I never liked this. I may give it another go but I don't have, as Mr Dickens might have said, great expectations!