Tuesday, 28 August 2012

THE LONELY 'MISTRESS'





Victoria Principal is Rae, a disillusioned kept woman who, after losing her man (Don Murray) to a heart attack, just can’t seem to get it together. Oh, believe me, she tries, whether by working at a department store or trying to get back into show business—but screwing (pun intended) everything up is more to her liking, or so it seems. Thank goodness she still has friends and relatives to help her through this rough stage, friends like Joanna Kerns who’s more concerned over Principal’s drinking problem than charging her rent for the studio in which she stays, or her unhappy widowed mother who just can’t stop nagging her every chance she gets, or how about her trampy BFF, a kept woman herself, who just wants her to get back into the swing of things, if you know what I mean. But none has a clue as to how desperate our little rascal has become. She’s an ex-mistress on the edge; a screw-up, as they say, and watching her potential downfall has never been this much fun, I’m telling you.


MISTRESS is Victoria Principal post DALLAS. It’s the actress’ first project under her own production company. No one really believed she’d have a career after leaving the long running series, but she did, at least for a while. TV movies after TV movies, and a return to glitz on NBC short-lived TITANS (a sure contender for a blog entry) in 2000 did the trick before she finally hung her acting gloves to become sort of a recluse, if I can express myself that way. Last that I heard, she was still selling her stuff on QVC, but the Victoria we adore, the one who rhymes with bellísima, is gone for good—probably due to age and lack of “good” roles. But in 1987, she was still on a roll, hence MISTRESS.


The fun really starts when Principal looses her sugar daddy. Before that it’s all about the loving relationship these two share, despite him being “happily” married. When she’s left with nothing (she omitted to sign a contract, you see) she returns to her hometown penniless and tries to start anew. “You know what happens to little creatures on the great sidewalk of life!? Some man comes along and steps on them. Well, not me, not anymore!” she hurls after numerous but highly enjoyable bad breaks (one involving two strangers in an outside pool). The message the film so clearly conveys is that bad girls do finish last… until they get a hold of themselves and go back to expensive whoring, that is.


Principal gives all she’s got and comes out of this unscathed, surprisingly. The girl can really act when she sets her mind to it. Sure, this role isn’t really a stretch for her, meaning she’s not playing Anna Karenina. But in her own ways, she does sparkle. Her character’s raging fit at seeing herself in home movies as a then-beauty queen is worth the price of finding this film alone (it as yet to be on DVD). She succeeds hands down in drawing the pain and suffering of this middle-aged lost soul. Just like Pia Zadora’s Jerilee in THE LONELY LADY, Victoria’s character “never did learn the meaning of self-respect”. And for that we thank her tremendously.


 
 
 
 

Until next post—Martin





1 comment:

wizzyswandrings said...

I remember seeing this on TV way back when and thinking...how bizarre that the only way she can make a living is as a hooker of sorts. I was only 17 or 18 at the time and was doing pretty darn well working as a cashier and as a part time photography studio assistant. It wasn't Hollywood but it did pay the bills without becoming a mistress...The only reason I wanted to see it was because of Victoria Principal being in it and she did do a good job.