Sam Roffe, president of a multi-national pharmaceutical corporation, is killed while mountain-climbing. It is first determined to be an accident, but Inspector Max Hormung (Gert Forbe) later deduces that Roffe was murdered. Sam's daughter Elizabeth (Audrey Hepburn) assumes control of the company, and while traveling through Europe she immediately becomes a target as well. Suspicion falls on the Roffe cousins, all of whom want to go public with the company and sell their stock at a huge profit. Since this would be against her father's wishes, Elizabeth rejects their advice and decides to keep the company within the family. As Inspector Hormung investigates the background of the cousins, more attempts are made on Elizabeth's life. Hoping to reveal the guilty party, Hormung is able to connect these attempts to a series of murders on prostitutes, which are recorded on snuff films.
Audrey Hepburn ... Elizabeth Roffe
Ben Gazzara ... Rhys Williams
James Mason ... Sir Alec Nichols
Claudia Mori ... Donatella
Irene Papas ... Simonetta Palazzi
Michelle Phillips ... Vivian Nichols
Maurice Ronet ... Charles Martin
Romy Schneider ... Hélène Martin
Omar Sharif ... Ivo Palazzi
Beatrice Straight ... Kate Erling
Gert Fröbe ... Inspector Max Hornung
Wolfgang Preiss ... Julius Prager
Marcel Bozzuffi ... Man in Black
Pinkas Braun ... Dr. Wal
Wulf Kessler ... Young Sam Roffe
Following the release of Wait Until Dark (1967) and the break-up of her marriage to Mel Ferrer, Audrey Hepburn retired from the screen. By the mid 1970s her subsequent marriage, to Rome-based psychiatrist Andrea Dotti, had become strained and this is often cited as one of the reasons for her decision to resume her acting career. It may also account for the fact that her choice of material was so ill-judged.
Bloodline (1979) was Hepburn's second 'comeback' movie and appeared three years after the underrated 'Robin and Marian'. Based on a novel by Sidney Sheldon it can be compared in many ways to The Adventurers (1970). Both are based on trashy bestsellers, both feature journeyman multi-national casts, both are directed by James Bond series veterans and both benefit from the services of first-rate cinematographers – in Bloodline's case Freddie Young, David Lean's regular cameraman, who previously worked with his namesake Terence on You Only Live Twice. (Trivia note: Sean Ferrer, Hepburn's eldest son, would later work as an assistant director on Terence Young's Korean War epic 'Inchon'). Both movies were poorly received and both have enduringly awful critical reputations.
So is Bloodline that bad? Well, it isn't very good – but bear in mind that it dates from an era when the notion of 'guilty pleasures' was unknown. The movie opens fairly well with the murder of pharmaceutical magnate Sam Roffe and the inheritance by his daughter Elizabeth (Hepburn) of his Zurich-based empire. We are then introduced to Elizabeth's cousins (Sharif, Schneider, Mason) all of whom, we later find out, have reasons for wanting her dead. So far so good – but unfortunately things don't stay that way for long. There is a long, redundant (and excruciatingly poorly acted) sequence detailing the birth of the Roffe empire which really drags things down. Scenes become increasingly disjointed – at one point, following the murder of one of the company's research scientists, Hepburn yells "I want them out!", a statement which makes no sense whatsoever unless you've read the book, in which case you'll know she's referring to the security personnel who've failed to protect the murdered man. Bloodline bears all the signs of heavy cutting, indeed one source (Leonard Maltin) says that 40 minutes were added to the movie's first network showing. Even if this footage were to be restored for a DVD release, it is doubtful given the quality of that which remains, that Bloodline would suddenly turn into a masterpiece.
For a movie with a fairly reasonable budget (Hepburn's Givenchy-designed wardrobe reportedly cost $100,000, and she does look great) it looks remarkably shoddy in places (witness the back projection during the Le Mans sequence) and with a couple of exceptions (Hepburn – and Schneider, who is delicious as a Contessa de Sade-type) the performances are strictly one-dimensional. Ennio Morricone's score is effective, especially during the striking main title sequence, but is disappointingly uneven overall.
Lovers of eurotrash will lap Bloodline up, but even they may find it a bit heavy going.
I enjoyed this movie! Any time Audrey Hepburn graced the screen was an occasion and for her to be paired with Ben Gazzara made this movie extra special for me. The story is interesting; the scenery is beautiful; a delightful romance develops; and who could forget Omar Shariff's shenanigans with his wife, his daughters and his mistresses? I do not wish that every single copy would disappear - I wish that they would put it on DVD. In fact, I have an excellent copy on VHS that I taped from TV. I have tried to copy it on my DVD recorder but they marked it so that it cannot be copied. I don't understand this practice but that has nothing to do with this movie! Sidney Sheldon is an excellent storyteller - and this one is no exception. As pointed out by another reviewer here, there may be cinematic flaws and shortcuts in this film - I did not notice them. I was much too engrossed in the story.
Nobody expects film based on Sidney Sheldon's book to be come art-house masterpiece but at least it could be made into enjoyable crime movie like Death on Nile. Well it was not. Despite the rather famous director (Young is not Fellini of course but most his previous films were enjoyable eye-feasts; would that be a spy adventure (2 Bond movies), eurowestern (Red Sun) or costume drama (Mayerling)) and all-star cast the film is very weak.
The plot is inconsistent and empty the idea to equip the Agatha Christy-like crime puzzle with subplots from other genres may seem not bad idea but it doesn't work at all
Subplot 1- (WWII -Jewish Tragedy with absolutely aimless trip to Poland) and Subplot 2 (French one - Schneider/Ronet story ) seem to be taken from the absolutely different film as well as the type-cast Shariff's line
Actually this all-star cast is the only reason to watch it, but its is painful to watch so much talent wasted. If Hupbern, Gazarra and Mason are at least is doing something during the boringly unveiling plot, the others are just fitting the empty space. especially annoying to see superb dramatic actresses like Papas and Schneider wasting their talent in this turkey.