On a scale of one to ten how delectably bad is the screen adaptation of Sidney Sheldon’s mega-bestseller THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT? I’d say an eleven. Nothing can surpass this over-the-top, over produced, over-acted piece of drivel that just keeps getting wackier with every viewing. It’s as if everything’s thrown in but the kitchen sink, but I’m sure that if you look more closely you’d even see that taking place somewhere. I have no idea why it took me so long to blog about this title since it’s one of my favorite films EVER but I can honestly say that I’m just as excited as the time I wrote about another delectably bad film called THE LONELY LADY.
The fun starts just before the outbreak of WWII in France when poor innocent-looking French gal Marie-France Pisier declares “Papa, I do love you” to her eager dad who, unbeknownst to her, has sold her to THE DUKES OF HAZZARD Sorrell Booke for a radio and some other goodies. After surrendering herself to Booke she packs up her bag and heads off to a plush hotel lobby in Paris where she is mistaken for a whore. She is saved from embarrassment by TV’s FLAMINGO ROAD John Beck who she thinks is all that but really isn’t. Before you can say here we go, a long lovey-dovey montage of the two in the City of Light is accompanied by a Michel Legrand score that is just as syrupy as the whole sequence.
When Beck is shipped elsewhere (who cares where) he promises Pisier that he will be back to marry her. But like the bastard that he really is he never returns and Pisier is left with a double P: pregnant and pissed. She aborts with a wire-hanger before sleeping her way to the top to become a renowned European actress (yeah right). Filthy rich and the mistress of a Greek tycoon with connections (in other words a bad rich guy), she then hires a private detective to keep tabs on Beck and sets a course of action to make him pay before rekindling their passionate romance (uh-huh).
Now married to a young and—thank heavens—effective Susan Sarandon (yes, she is in this as well) who we witness passing from a career gal to a lush wife during the course of the film, Beck has no idea what he is about to get into when he becomes Pisier’s private pilot in Greece. When the job also involves getting into her pants for old time’s sake, she wants him all for herself. When he refuses to get a divorce she swears she’ll tell everything to her tycoon of a boyfriend no matter the consequences. What a man or a gal to do? Get rid of Sarandon of course.
It all comes down to Sarandon overhearing their plan to kill her, hiding away in a docked rowboat during a thunderstorm (wise move) then getting swallowed by the wild sea as if we didn’t anticipate it. Cut to Pisier and Beck getting executed for the death of Sarandon, and the shocker of all shockers, finding out that Sarandon isn’t dead after all, just an amnesia victim found on the shore near a nuns’ convent.
Oh yes, my sweet little high-camp gems devotees, THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT is a must for all the wrong reasons. It is the apogee of bad cinema making. This 2 hour and 45 minute fiasco, which BTW ended up being just a modest hit, has it all: sex, money, power, greed... It is directed by the same guy who later on gave us another Sheldon adapted treat: A STRANGER IN THE MIRROR. Sheldon subsequently wrote and produced a sequel to MIDNIGHT which of course will eventually see the light of day on this blog. Oh, and I almost forgot, THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT was a packaged deal upon its theatrical release in ‘77, to help a little film the industry thought was going to bomb: STAR WARS. Imagine that.
Until next post—Martin