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The Betsy

By Richard Natale

Adapted from a Harold Robbins potboiler, The Betsy offers power struggles, incest, adultery, gold digging, and car racing. Laurence Olivier plays a ruthless but fallible auto tycoon with a tortured family history including a weakling son (Paul Rudd), a daughter-in-law he loves too much (Katharine Ross), a resentful grandson (Robert Duvall), and a devoted great-granddaughter (Kathleen Beller) to whom he bequeaths most of his fortune. In the midst of all these family squabbles is racing enthusiast Angelo Perino (a very young Tommy Lee Jones) whom the old man hires to build a revolutionary, ecologically advanced car which will be called The Betsy after his great-granddaughter. Angelo builds The Betsy (the car), seduces Betsy (the great-granddaughter), and even has a fling with Duvall's mistress, played by the haughty Lesley-Anne Down. In order to boil down Robbins's plot-heavy novel to 125 minutes, some of the connecting tissue has been lost. But Olivier is a grand old ham and Jones shows early on why he was destined to be a star. Lavishly produced, The Betsy has been formatted for the small screen, which doesn't allow us to fully enjoy the elaborate sets. But it's a chewy two hours of pulp, nonetheless.

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Daniel Petrie

Stars: Laurence Olivier, Robert Duvall, Katharine Ross, Tommy Lee Jones, Jane Alexander, Lesley-Anne Down, Kathleen Beller, Edward Herrmann

Released: February 9, 1978

Availability: DVD VHS


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