Sidney Sheldon's Bloodline (1979)

R | 116 mins | Melodrama | 29 June 1979

Director:

Terence Young

Writer:

Laird Koenig

Cinematographer:

F. A. Young

Editor:

Bud Molin

Production Designer:

Edward S. Haworth
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HISTORY

       A 19 Sep 1977 Box news item announced that Paramount Pictures Corp. acquired the film rights to Sidney Sheldon’s novel, Bloodline, which was scheduled for publication in 1978 and would become one of the year’s major bestsellers. As reported in a 29 Jun 1979 NYT article, the author was paid $1.25 million, plus ten percent of the gross, which would increase to fifteen percent if the box-office exceeded $50 million. Producer Sidney Beckerman stated that, for a brief time, the deal represented “the highest price” spent for motion pictures rights to a book. A 4 Nov 1977 LAHExam article added that Sheldon was guaranteed $1 million if the project was canceled. Beckerman then negotiated for the rights to be resold to the German tax-shelter conglomerate, NF Geria 3rd, Filmgesllschaft m.b.H., which financed approximately half of the $12 million production budget, as explained in a 11 Oct 1978 Var article. Paramount contributed the remaining funds and signed on as distributor. David V. Picker, a consultant to Geria, served as principal producer during the production stage.
       As reported in 28 Jun 1978 and 12 Jul 1978 Var briefs, Terence Young replaced the project’s original director, John Frankenheimer, who left to helm the feature film, Prophecy (1979, see entry). Edward Anhalt was initially hired to adapt the script, but he is not credited onscreen and his contribution to the completed film has not been confirmed. A 21 Sep 1978 DV column noted that writer Gore Vidal was “polishing” the screenplay, but his participation is also uncredited.
       ... More Less

       A 19 Sep 1977 Box news item announced that Paramount Pictures Corp. acquired the film rights to Sidney Sheldon’s novel, Bloodline, which was scheduled for publication in 1978 and would become one of the year’s major bestsellers. As reported in a 29 Jun 1979 NYT article, the author was paid $1.25 million, plus ten percent of the gross, which would increase to fifteen percent if the box-office exceeded $50 million. Producer Sidney Beckerman stated that, for a brief time, the deal represented “the highest price” spent for motion pictures rights to a book. A 4 Nov 1977 LAHExam article added that Sheldon was guaranteed $1 million if the project was canceled. Beckerman then negotiated for the rights to be resold to the German tax-shelter conglomerate, NF Geria 3rd, Filmgesllschaft m.b.H., which financed approximately half of the $12 million production budget, as explained in a 11 Oct 1978 Var article. Paramount contributed the remaining funds and signed on as distributor. David V. Picker, a consultant to Geria, served as principal producer during the production stage.
       As reported in 28 Jun 1978 and 12 Jul 1978 Var briefs, Terence Young replaced the project’s original director, John Frankenheimer, who left to helm the feature film, Prophecy (1979, see entry). Edward Anhalt was initially hired to adapt the script, but he is not credited onscreen and his contribution to the completed film has not been confirmed. A 21 Sep 1978 DV column noted that writer Gore Vidal was “polishing” the screenplay, but his participation is also uncredited.
       Per a 19 Nov 1978 LAT article, “Elizabeth Roffe,” the novel’s 23-year-old heroine, was rewritten as older to accommodate fifty-year-old Audrey Hepburn. The project marked a return to acting for Hepburn, who had made one feature, Robin and Marian (1976, see entry), in the previous ten years. Young had directed the actress in Wait Until Dark (1967, see entry) and persuaded her to finally accept the role of Elizabeth after she declined. According to the 29 Jun 1979 NYT article, Hepburn was paid a salary of $1.25 million, combined with ten percent of the box-office gross. Actress Jacqueline Bisset was also approached about the lead, while Michelle Phillips stated that she campaigned to play Elizabeth, but was cast instead as “Vivian Nichols.”
       Among the other names considered for starring roles were Bianca Jagger, George C. Scott, Richard Burton, and Ursula Andress, as noted in the 21 Sep 1978 DV column. A 13 Dec 1978 Var article reported that three cast members were replaced during production: Monica Vitti, Giancarlo Giannini, and Maximilian Schell.
       Although he did not receive onscreen credit, fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy created Hepburn’s dresses for the film, as stated in a 17 Nov 1978 LAT article.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, principal photography began 8 Oct 1978 in New York City at the following locations: the Museum of Natural History, Wall Street, JFK International Airport, the Gulf+Western Building, and Central Park. The production re-located to London, England, and shot at the Royal Athletic Club, Crockford’s Club casino, and an estate in the county of Surrey, before travelling to a series of European locations. In Paris, France, filming included the restaurant Maxim’s and sites near the Place de la Concorde, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Tour d’Argent restaurant. On the Italian island of Sardinia, the production filmed for approximately a week in Costa Smeralda to capture the wedding and other scenes. In Rome, Italy, locations included Tivoli Gardens and a penthouse suite on the Via Corso. The Villa Falconieri in neighboring Frascati was the setting for the home of “Ivo and Simonetta Palazzi.” The climactic scene of the Sardinian villa burning was shot on soundstages at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios. During the last six weeks of the schedule, cast and crew were based at Bavaria Studios, in Munich, West Germany, where the interior sets for the “Roffe” boardroom and offices were built. The production also visited the following locations in West Germany: a ski resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the city of Burghausen, whose 18th century structures represented the Polish ghetto, and the Boehringer Pharmaceutical Works in Mannheim. Filming completed 22 Dec 1978.
      End credits include the following statement: “The production company would like to thank all the people who cooperated in the making of this film on location in New York, London, Paris, Rome, Costa Smeralda-Sardinia; and in West Germany, Munich, Burghausen, Garmisch Partenkirchen, and particularly the management and employees of Boehringer Mannheim GmbH.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Sep 1977.
---
Daily Variety
21 Sep 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1979
p. 3, 37.
LAHExam
4 Nov 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Nov 1978
Section K, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
19 Nov 1978
Section N, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
29 Jun 1979
p. 18.
New York Times
29 Jun 1979
Section C, p. 5, 8.
Variety
28 Jun 1978.
---
Variety
12 Jul 1978.
---
Variety
11 Oct 1978
p. 35.
Variety
13 Dec 1978
p. 52.
Variety
4 Jul 1979
p. 25.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Friedrich von Ledebur
Murder victims:
[And]
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures presents
A David V. Picker-Sidney Beckerman production
A Geria Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Unit prod mgr, New York
Asst dir, New York
Asst dir, London
2nd unit dir, France
Asst dir, France
Unit prod mgr, Italy
Asst prod mgr, Italy
Unit prod mgr, Germany
Asst prod mgr, Germany
2nd asst dir, Germany
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam focus
Cam grip
Elec supv
Still photog
2nd unit cam, Germany
2nd unit cam, Germany
Chief gaffer, Germany
Chief grip, Germany
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir, London
Art dir, France
Art dir, Germany
Art dir, Germany
Art dir, Germany
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Set dec, France
Set dec, Germany
Prop asst, Germany
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst, Germany
Miss Hepburn's jewels by
Miss Hepburn's dresses
MUSIC
Mus comp, arr and cond by
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Re-rec mixer
Boom op
Sd eng, Italy
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff asst
Main title seq by
MAKEUP
Makeup/Hairstylist
Miss Hepburn's makeup
Miss Hepburn's hairstylist
Miss Schneider's makeup
Miss Schneider's hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Creative asst
Asst to Mr. Picker
Asst to Mr. Young
Asst to Miss Hepburn
Dial coach
Casting
Pub coord
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Prod supv, London
Prod asst, London
Unit prod supv, France
Prod secy, Germany
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Bloodline by Sidney Sheldon (New York, 1978).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Bloodline
Release Date:
29 June 1979
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 29 June 1979
Production Date:
8 October--22 December 1978 in New York City
London, England
Paris, France
Costa Smeralda, Sardinia
Rome, Italy
and West Germany
Copyright Claimant:
N. F. Geria 3rd, Filmgesellschaft m.b.H.
Copyright Date:
23 October 1979
Copyright Number:
PA47282
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®/Prints by Movielab
Duration(in mins):
116
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Germany (West), United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the Bavarian Alps, tycoon Sam Roffe, the owner of a global pharmaceutical corporation, is killed in a mountain climbing accident. The company’s executive officer, Rhys Williams, delivers the news to Sam’s daughter, Elizabeth Roffe, a divorced paleontologist, who adored her father but had little contact with his empire. In the wake of Sam’s death, however, she becomes president of Roffe Pharmaceutical. Rhys reassures Elizabeth that since she inherited her father’s majority interest, the board of directors must support her. Meanwhile, the Roffe cousins and their spouses, who are board members and shareholders in the family-owned company, are informed of Sam’s death. While Sir Alec Nichols, a prominent British politician, appears shocked, the other relatives receive the news with enthusiasm in anticipation of inheriting power and money. During the board meeting at Roffe headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, the cousins propose that the company go public. Currently, Roffe owes $650 million in short-term loans, and Alec explains that selling the family’s shares will satisfy the debt while still providing each of them with substantial profits. Elizabeth, however, argues that her father rejected this idea last year, and she wants to learn more about the company before deciding. At one of Roffe’s sixty factories, Rhys leads Elizabeth on a tour through research facilities and an assembly line that makes ten million pills per day. As Elizabeth becomes overwhelmed by the thought of managing the business, Rhys gives her Sam’s beloved scrapbook, which inspires the heiress to visit the former Polish ghetto where her father first experimented with life-saving drugs. From the beginning, Sam believed Roffe should be a family business ... +


In the Bavarian Alps, tycoon Sam Roffe, the owner of a global pharmaceutical corporation, is killed in a mountain climbing accident. The company’s executive officer, Rhys Williams, delivers the news to Sam’s daughter, Elizabeth Roffe, a divorced paleontologist, who adored her father but had little contact with his empire. In the wake of Sam’s death, however, she becomes president of Roffe Pharmaceutical. Rhys reassures Elizabeth that since she inherited her father’s majority interest, the board of directors must support her. Meanwhile, the Roffe cousins and their spouses, who are board members and shareholders in the family-owned company, are informed of Sam’s death. While Sir Alec Nichols, a prominent British politician, appears shocked, the other relatives receive the news with enthusiasm in anticipation of inheriting power and money. During the board meeting at Roffe headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, the cousins propose that the company go public. Currently, Roffe owes $650 million in short-term loans, and Alec explains that selling the family’s shares will satisfy the debt while still providing each of them with substantial profits. Elizabeth, however, argues that her father rejected this idea last year, and she wants to learn more about the company before deciding. At one of Roffe’s sixty factories, Rhys leads Elizabeth on a tour through research facilities and an assembly line that makes ten million pills per day. As Elizabeth becomes overwhelmed by the thought of managing the business, Rhys gives her Sam’s beloved scrapbook, which inspires the heiress to visit the former Polish ghetto where her father first experimented with life-saving drugs. From the beginning, Sam believed Roffe should be a family business and compared outsiders to “a fox in a hen house.” After the Poland trip, Elizabeth tells the board that she will not sell. The cousins attempt to dissuade her by recounting the crisis of debt, lawsuits and labor strikes, as well as her own inexperience, but Elizabeth remains resolute. Interrupting the meeting, a police inspector, Max Hornung, announces to the board that Sam was murdered on the climb. To take a brief respite and assess Hornung’s evidence, Elizabeth travels to the Roffe villa in Sardinia, accompanied by Kate Erling, Sam’s trusted secretary. The two women listen to a recent audiotape in which Sam recorded his suspicions about an unidentified traitor on the board, who has been providing competitors with highly classified research. Meanwhile, Hornung discovers possible financial motives among the Roffe cousins: Alec faces harassment from a casino on account of enormous gambling debts accumulated by his young wife, Vivian. Another cousin, Simonetta, is married to Ivo Palazzi, a philanderer who has fathered three boys with his mistress, Donatella. Unless Ivo provides Donatella with $1 million in child support, she will inform Simonetta about his other family. The third set of cousins, Helene Martin and her husband Charles, run the company’s regional office in Paris, France. While Helene has ambitions to take over Roffe, Charles is involved in illicit business deals, in an effort to be financially independent from his domineering wife. Back in Sardinia, Elizabeth survives a car crash after the brakes on her jeep mysteriously fail. While recovering in the hospital, she concludes that someone wants to harm her as they did her father. Later, in Zurich, Elizabeth must secure the confidence of the bankers, who are skeptical about her ability to lead an international corporation in crisis. In exchange for a loan extension, she proposes marrying Rhys as a business arrangement, making him an official member of the family and, thus, eligible to take over as president. Meanwhile, she will still retain the majority shares. Julius Prager, the head of the bank, agrees to the compromise, and Rhys and Elizabeth wed in a ceremony at the Sardinia villa. During the celebration, Elizabeth is alarmed to discover that the audiotape is missing from the house. As Elizabeth and Kate return to Zurich on business, Rhys spends the night with Helene, with whom he has been having an affair, and tells her that their fling must end in consideration of his “marriage.” The scheming Helene reminds Rhys that if Elizabeth dies, he will inherit controlling interest in Roffe. Meanwhile, at the Zurich headquarters, Kate is killed in an elevator crash that was intended to murder Elizabeth. While Elizabeth tries to compose herself, Hornung assures her that evidence is mounting as the cousins’ financial issues become more desperate. Later, Elizabeth meets Rhys in Paris to help disrupt a potential threat posed by Charles. During the trip, Rhys and Elizabeth agree to trust each other upon realizing that they both have information about a conspiracy within the board. Rhys discloses that he alerted Sam before he died, but was unaware that the tycoon made a tape recording about the sabotage. At an elegant Parisian restaurant, Elizabeth longs for a romantic evening with Rhys, having been attracted to him for years. When several beautiful women from Rhys’s past approach, she becomes jealous and confesses that she loves him. She is relieved that he feels the same, and they spend the night together. After Elizabeth returns to Zurich, a Roffe research facility is set on fire and one of the company’s leading scientists, Dr. Joeppli, is murdered. Hornung tells Elizabeth that the cousins and even Rhys remain suspects. While he continues the investigation, Hornung provides Elizabeth with around the clock protection. Arriving in Zurich, Alec offers his support and mentions that he informed Sam about a conspiracy in the upper echelons of the company. Elizabeth then has doubts about Rhys and rummages through his desk drawer looking for any evidence. She is devastated when she finds the missing audiotape and a love note from Helene. She telephones the inspector and instructs him to meet her at the villa in Sardinia. There, the local police chief, Major Campagna, greets her at the airport and assures her that he and another officer will guard the villa. Waking in the middle of the night, Elizabeth panics upon finding the officers gone and the telephone line dead. Suddenly, the lights go out and a fire begins to engulf the house. As Elizabeth climbs on the roof to escape, Alec and Rhys appear on separate balconies below. Both men appeal to her, but she does not know which one to trust. Rhys excuses Alec of killing Sam and planting the audiotape in the desk. Meanwhile, Hornung arrives on the property. After Alec reminds Elizabeth that they share the same bloodline and to remember her father’s warning about the “fox in the hen house,” she rejects Rhys and jumps toward her relative. Alec, however, is confirmed as the murderer when he attempts to push Elizabeth closer to the flames. Hornung then shoots Alex dead. Leaping across to the other balcony, Elizabeth embraces her husband Rhys. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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