Tuesday, 18 February 2014

That's Rogertainment! Rogisode 2:
Bed & Breakfast

In my quest to watch every Roger Moore film ever except SpiceWorld, my "research" brought me to this unheard-of curio: a 1992 romdramcom starring Colleen Dewhurst, Talia Shire and Nina "Casey Siemaszko from Back To The Future's sister" Siemaszko as three generations of a family living in a dilapidated B&B in the sleepy seaside town of Peelers Point, Maine. Siemaszko's Cassie is a sixteen-year-old wannabe musician (specialising in the electric violin, natch) with a randy boyfriend who's clearly been watching a lot of Jason Priestley in Beverly Hills 90210, but her mother Claire (Shire) and grandmother Ruth (Dewhurst) are both single, lonely and in need of a good roger. Turns out it's their lucky day.
Washed up (no pun intended) on their beach is a mysterious Englishman who claims to have no memory of who he is or how he got there. Naturally, rather than inform the police, they take him into their home, call him Adam and make him their handyman - much to the annoyance of Amos and Randolf, two local men who were hoping to put their own tools to use with Ruth and Claire respectively. Adam turns around the fortunes of the B&B using a winning mixture of charm and bullshit, and simultaneously fixes the emotional issues of three women incapable of sorting their own lives out without the help of a smooth-talking fanny magnet. I haven't checked but I don't think this film is a mainstay of feminist film theory.

What Ruth, Claire and Cassie don't know is that Adam is a con artist, whose arrival on the beach resulted from being beaten up and lobbed off a yacht during the night by a troupe of achingly early '90s bad guys, all wide suits, slicked back hair and t'ai chi. Their pursuit of him throughout the film is half-hearted and comedically sinister, as if they've inadvertently wandered in from a terrible Jean Claude Van Damme film (The Quest, perhaps). Despite all that Bed & Breakfast isn't painfully unwatchable: as an inoffensive family drama it's fine; it's just nowhere near as crude and chucklesome as this amazingly-taglined poster suggests:
Baffling in so many ways.

Prompted by the translation of the film's bizarre German title Agenten Leben Einsam (Agents Live Alone), I discovered that Bed & Breakfast is automatically improved if you imagine that "Adam" is in fact a British spy called, I dunno, James Bond or something, left for dead and either genuinely suffering from amnesia (as in the novel of You Only Live Twice) or going deep undercover to avoid detection. The only problem with this interpretation is that Adam only explicitly nobs the middle-aged mother (it's implied he might have had a go on the grandmother, who's actually the same age as Rodge), whereas if he were Bond he would have no doubt balled the daughter as well just to complete the set.

In terms of Rogertainment, Bed & Breakfast begins well with the aforementioned scrap on a yacht, which features a surprising amount of Roger Moore doing his own fighting. Given that just a few years previously he practically cameoed in his last Bond film, this is somewhat disconcerting, but happily it's not long before there's a shot in which a stuntman who bears absolutely no resemblance to Rodge is required to take his place:
Pretty sure that's actually Timothy Dalton

He gets a couple of chances to deploy a raised eyebrow and a double entendre: the best is probably when Claire mentions that Randolf could quite easily clear out the septic tank, and Adam asks "When did he last give you a thorough flushing?", which is funny until you realise the innuendo requires you to compare Talia Shire's vagina with a large container of sewage. Still, this is a film littered with odd lines: Cassie says her dream of playing the electric violin on a tightrope "would be the ultimate post-nuclear statement", while Ruth berates her frigid daughter by growling "The only person around here that can't deal with the fact that there's a penis in the house... is YOU", a line which has mystifyingly and sadly never cropped up in a movie quotes quiz to my knowledge.

On the negative side, Rodge at one point decides to go all Goodness Gracious Me by putting on an excruciating Indian accent while talking about how he once made a curry, and for large parts of the film sits around in a chair being waited on. There is a splendid montage of him fixing up the house though, which includes this excellent reaction to the timeless whoops-a-daisy-I've-hammered-my-own-thumb-intead-of-the-nail gag:

Perhaps the ultimate test of the lasting impact of any of Roger's films is to see how fondly he recalls them in his excellent autobiography, My Word Is My Bond (if you look really closely, you can see what he did there). Sure enough, on page 327, there it is:
"I was lured in as an executive producer [...] I should have held out for a better fee and given up the credit."
One for the ages, I think we can all agree.


The point of all this, such as it is, is explained here.

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