Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
Harold Prince made his first of only two forays into film direction with this cult curiosity, similar to the contemporary film adaptation of Entertaining Mr. Sloane but missing its bite. stars as an enterprising young lad who enters an Austrian castle where an old money (no money) family has been languishing since the second World War ended only a few years earlier. The clan is headed up by a widowed who would love to sell the estate but is prevented by an entail, so York worms his way into their employ and brings cash to the house by convincing Lansbury’s son ( ) to marry the daughter of a rich industrialist ( ) after sleeping with them both. His ambitions climb from there as he stops at nothing, including murder, to get what he wants, but unlike Orton’s play, in which the main character is taught to be careful what he wishes for, there doesn’t seem to be a snare at the end of the adventure for our main character here, nor is there the ironic, morality-contemplating happy ending of Match Point. The dull plotting doesn’t actually have him manipulating people, he just gives them what they want (usually his body), and rather than tricking them into thinking they’ve done something, he just tells them what to do and they listen. Given that there’s no sense of background or history, or even discernible emotional feeling, to York’s character, it’s hard to find him interesting, but seeing Lansbury give such an elegant performance (in such a fabulous wardrobe) is possibly worth the time it takes to watch it.