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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
The only son of wealthy widow Violet Venable dies while on vacation with his cousin Catherine. What the girl saw was so horrible that she went insane; now Mrs. Venable wants Catherine lobotomized to cover up the truth.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Inspired by a performance of his favorite play, "Volpone," twentieth century millionaire Cecil Fox (Sir Rex Harrison) devises an intricate plan to trick three of his former mistresses into believing he is dying. Although the women are wealthy in their own right, all have good reason to covet his fortune. To assist him in his scheme, Fox hires William McFly (Cliff Robertson), a gigolo and sometime actor, to act as his secretary/servant. Fox is soon visited at his "deathbed" by the three former mistresses: Merle McGill (Edie Adams), a fading Hollywood sex symbol; Princess Dominique (Capucine), who once took a cruise on Fox's yacht; and Mrs. Lone Star Crockett Sheridan (Susan Hayward), a Texas hypochondriac who travels with an enigmatic nurse/companion (Dame Maggie Smith). As Fox and McFly act out the charade, things take an unexpected turn from comical farce to full-blown murder mystery.Written by
Joseph L. Mankiewicz's first script contained several novelties that never made it to the screen. Among them was a series of memos from a theater-chain owner (made to look as though they had been slipped in front of the projector) that commented on the action taking place. Also, there was to have been a running argument (resembling backstage squabbling) between a theater manager and the actor playing Cecil over such things as lines and cues. See more »
Taking an inspiration from his favorite Jacobean play, Ben Jonson's Volpone, fabulously wealthy Rex Harrison hires an out of work actor Cliff Robertson to play an elaborate practical joke on three women who've been part of his life. Robertson's to play his confidential secretary and assistant and to send them letters inviting them to Venice where Harrison is pretending to be dying in his palazzo.
To be sure these are three women to die for indeed. There is Princess Capucine with a title, but little else going for here as she becomes one of those permanent house guests on the Riviera. Then there's movie star Edie Adams originally from the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn whose best days as a film star are behind here and not enough money is coming in to keep up with her lifestyle spending. Finally there is the mysterious and earthy Susan Hayward. Imagine if you will Susan as Rachel Jackson, but with a malevolent twist and you've got her character. She's also a hypochondriac and travels with nurse/companion Maggie Smith.
The joke's proceeding great until Hayward winds up dead and the police in the person of Inspector Adolfo Celi is brought in. Joseph Mankiewica's literate script glides ever so gently from comedy of manners to murder mystery. And not like everyone of them hasn't got reason to do in Hayward. Just see the film and you'll know what I mean.
Sad that The Honey Pot failed to find an audience. Also sad that it was two years from the Stonewall Rebellion, Harrison's bisexuality was not more explicit. In regard to that read Hayward's comments on their lives together and the dialog exchanges between Harrison and Robertson.
In fact The Honey Pot does turn out to be an elaborate joke, but you have to see who winds up winners and losers in this very intelligent and witty film.
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