Tuesday, September 13, 2011

THE V.I.P.s (1963)

GRAND HOTEL in an airport (and later, a hotel).  Over a period of 12 hours or so, a number of celebrities, businessmen and rich people wait in a V.I.P lounge at Heathrow Airport for flights out which are all delayed due to fog.  Industrialist Richard Burton, there to see his wife (Elizabeth Taylor) off for a Jamaican holiday, discovers that she's leaving him for a suave gigolo (Louis Jourdan) who shows her more affection than the workaholic Burton.  Film director Orson Welles needs to leave the country by midnight or risk losing a lot of money to the British taxman.  Australian Rod Taylor, scrappy owner of a tractor factory, needs to get to New York to fend off a takeover by a big corporation; when he wires a check that he can't cover, he and his faithful secretary (Maggie Smith, pictured with Rod Taylor) try to figure out a way to get out of trouble.  A duchess (Margaret Rutherford) who has fallen on hard times is off to Florida to act as a social manager for a resort to raise money.  Phone calls are made, plans are changed, flights are canceled, spats are weathered, and finally relatively happy endings are in store for all.  This glossy, soapy film is mostly for Taylor/Burton fans, and both actors are in fine form—and as usual, Burton is the better actor, though Taylor is attractive and carries her part well enough.  Welles seems to have fun spoofing his own persona as an art-film director who cares more about finances that he’s supposed to.  Taylor and Smith work well together, though Smith's best scene is near the end, with Burton.  Rutherford, doing her usual blustery, doddering act, is amusing and won an Oscar for Supporting Actress.  Predictable plotlines, and directed with little style by Anthony Asquith, but fun for fans of the actors.  [DVD]

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