The Betsy

1978

No soundtrack release

r The Betsy


The Movie

This should have been a tv miniseries—it might have worked in three or four episodes over six or eight hours; but in the 2-hour format it failed. Too bad, too—considering its nearly all-star cast. Laurence Olivier is the patriarch and founder of a big Detroit auto maker. Now 86, he's old and feeble, but you still get a very good sense of the force of will and sharpness of mind that made him. He's retired but still meddling—he wants to make a "universal" car—a huge seller like the Model T or the Volkswagen Beetle. He's named it The Betsy, after his granddaughter (Kathleen Beller).

His ace in the hole is a high-efficiency, low polluting engine. But he needs to get it developed as a practical car and manufactured by the company his grandson, Robert Duvall, now controls.

So enter in Tommy Lee Jones as the head of product development, who goes to head to head against Duvall. Throw in Katherine Ross as Duvall's mother, Jane Alexander as Duvall's estranged wife, and Lesley-Anne Down, who is torn between Duvall and Jones.

So you had a good cast of characters and a lot of conflicts. The structure was there but the screenplay just blew. Bad dialog. Badly structured scenes and a herky-jerky pace that was often aimless. So instead of having something intriguing, people were jumping in and out of bed with each other and the whole thing ended up looking like a bad episode of Dallas. What an incredible waste of talent.


The Music

A few years ago someone wrote to me and asked if the music were available, and I thought she was crazy. But I hadn't seen the movie. The music is great. Like the acting and the photography, the music is a hundred times better than the movie deserved. The music is delicate and subtle and sweet, for the most part. I don't believe there is very much of it—maybe not enough for a whole album. But a suite as part of something else would have been nice. Happily, the main theme does show up on compilations.


Release Notes

A bootleg of the title theme shows up on the album Great Action/Horror Themes (LP: GSF 1002). The theme shows up on Nic Raine's Walkabout.