Set in 1930s Shanghai, where a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee who works odd -- and sometimes illicit -- jobs to support members of her dead husband's aristocratic family.
Sympathetic look loosely based on the relationship between tobacco heiress, Doris Duke (1912-1993) - think Duke University - and her shy butler, Bernard Lafferty. The icy and mercurial Duke fires her butler for serving a chilled cantaloupe; the agency sends Lafferty, formerly household staff to Liz Taylor and to Peggy Lee. He's an alcoholic, fresh out of rehab. He gradually becomes Duke's gay alter ego as she romps through life sleeping with young men, making shrewd decisions quickly, managing her fortune and orchids as Lafferty manages her New Jersey estate. With a wine cellar to die for, Bernard falls off the wagon. Can he pull himself together when Doris needs him? Written by
When Doris is reading her will, she identifies her city of residence as Somerville, New Jersey. Duke Farms, the site of Duke's residence, is actually in neighboring Hillsborough, New Jersey. Duke Farm now operates as a nature preserve and public park. See more »
This movie was OK. I don't know much about Doris Duke, so I don't know how accurate it was. But what I do know is that I found this HBO movie entertaining and a lot better than a lot of movies that get released in theaters. Susan and Ralph were very good in their roles. The movie shows Doris in her later years. She chases younger men and drinks a lot and moves between all her homes and fabulous vacations. She becomes friends with her butler Bernard. She probably likes the fact he likes to drink too and loves to kiss her @ss. She doesn't even mind when she catches him stealing her boos when she states any help stealing from her will get fired. Her death was controversial as to weather Bernard played a role in it and if he had anything to do with her will changing. He got 5 million plus control over her estate and foundation. But he didn't live to many more years after she died.
FINAL VERDICT: Interesting, amusing. Susan and Ralph were good together and what made this film work.
17 of 28 people found this review helpful.
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