This is the only Danielle Steele adaptation I've ever watched, and I rather enjoyed it because of Lindsay Wagner. Perhaps because Steele herself has said she never bought Wagner as Billie, I've never been interested in any of the others. Still, I thought this one came to life pretty well.
The plot centers on three main characters: Billy (Lindsay Wagner), a plain young woman who is a poor relation of a rich family; Spider Elliot (Barry Bostwick), a roguish photographer; and Valentine O'Neil (Marie-France Pissier), an audacious, but unknown designer. Billy's story is the rise from poor relation of a rich family to wife, and later widow, of powerful and rich businessman, Ellis Ikehorn (Efram Zimbalist, Jr.). After Ellis' death, she opens her own boutique, Scruples, which is how her life intersects with Spider and Valentine. Later she meets up with film director, Vito Orsini (Nick Mancuso), and helps give his career a boost. Spider is a photographer, who has a habit of sleeping with his models. Valentine lives across the hall from him. Sparks fly between them from the first, but it takes the whole movie for them to realize their attraction to each other (plus a little help from Spider's mother, who has to point it out to him). Spider's relationship with up and coming actress Melanie Adams (Kim Catrall) helps her get her first big break, but when she starts getting out of hand, Spider is the only one who can reel her in. In the meantime, Valentine is first pursued by a designer who is using her to hide his homosexuality, something she finds out in a particularly nasty way, and then pursued by corporate lawyer Josh Hillman (Robert Reed), whose passionless pursuit of her eventually fails. Will this trio find happiness while turning Scruples into a commercial success?
Typical soap opera fare, where everything is larger than life, and people are surprisingly slow to pick up on the obvious. Particularly hard to swallow is the rapidity with which people claim to be falling in love. I can buy that they would bed each other as quickly as they do, but love usually takes a little more time. But then, the movie wouldn't be much fun if it were more realistic.
The acting is okay. Wagner gives her usual committed performance, and makes us like her character. Zimbalist gives a polished performance of a suave and charming man. Bostwick's befuddlement works for the character. Mancuso is also charming in his short screen time. Reed is wooden, and his declarations of love for Valentine just aren't believable. Pissier is annoyingly condescending at times. Graham bristles with malice. Catrall is fabulous as the innocent who quickly learns the ropes. Gene Tierney turns in a nice performance as a lecherous gossip columnist, whose attentions are not turned where you might expect them to be. And Gavin McLeod nicely sheds his good guy image as a nasty studio executive.
It's not great movie making. But it is campy fun, and that makes it worth watching.
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