Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Morgan's Scared, Child!

From 1973 to 1977, Morgan Fairchild had been making lives miserable for many of the citizens of Henderson as the neurotic and dangerous Jennifer on Search for Tomorrow, followed by a bitchy, conniving turn as Constance on Flamingo Road (1980-1982.) In 1982 it was time for her to be the victim! The Seduction was her debut as the star of a feature film (having previously had an uncredited bit here and there) and the result was a scream, though not always for the intended reason...

Fairchild plays Jaime Douglas, a highly successful news anchor and investigative journalist in Los Angeles. She's presently hot on the coverage of a serial murderer known as "The Sweetheart Killer" and enjoying life with her reporter boyfriend Michael Sarrazin. While the two don't live together, they might as well since he seems ever-present at her fabulous (and, in truth, fabulously tacky) multi-story house with pool and hot tub.

Unfortunately, one of her uphill neighbors is a portrait photographer (Andrew Stevens) who's been able to not only watch her on TV, but also watch her do nude laps in her swimming pool and a variety of other things, thanks to a telephoto lens on his camera!

Although handsome and clean cut, Stevens is delusional, believing his own fantasies that he and Fairchild are destined to be a couple, whether she wants it or not. (The baby-faced Stevens is surprisingly adept at turning creepy and menacing any time the script calls for it, which is fairly often!)

First, Stevens calls the home of his intended love, professing his adoration of her and refusing to explain how he obtained her private, unlisted phone number ("It wasn't hard...") She tries to let him down gently, but he'll have none of it.

Fairchild calls her pal and neighbor, model Colleen Camp, telling her she's on her way there and to have a strong drink ready for her upon arrival. Amazingly, Stevens has her number, too, and calls Fairchild there as well! (It never dawns on Fairchild that for Stevens to know her whereabouts that keenly, he must be situated someplace with a bird's eye view of the neighborhood, but logic takes an early holiday in this movie anyway...!)

After Camp accidentally gives Sarrazin an earful on the phone, thinking he was Stevens again, Fairchild darts home to meet him, but the house is dark and Sarrazin doesn't answer her calls until the eleventh hour when she's about to have heart failure.

At home, Stevens has a wall full of photos and portraits of Fairchild. As her cool visage peers out at him, he sits on the floor, ostensibly naked, carrying on an imaginary (and sexual) conversation with the object of his desire! 
Fairchild is at work when a pretty flower arrangement arrives, though her mood sinks when she discovers that it's from Stevens. Her gay assistant (Kevin Brophy) and another newsroom employee are all atwitter because they think Fairchild must have a new boyfriend, but after Stevens' insidious calls, Fairchild isn't amused.
While she is on the air delivering the news (and at least Fairchild, with her glossy, assertive and well-spoken persona is credible as an anchor/ newsreader), Stevens calls the station to be sure his flowers arrived.

Now, she is becoming even more annoyed, but then he shows up IN her dressing room at the station! When he offers her some candy as a peace offering, while also promising not to bother her any more, she acquiesces, thanks him and sends him on his way.

However, he's far from finished. While she and Sarrazin are walking to their cars, about to head to her place likely for some more velour robe and naked pool time, Stevens is waiting for them in the parking lot with his ever-present camera.

Hilariously, Stevens is hanging out the passenger side of his car, parked almost directly across from Sarrazin's red convertible, with his sizable camera aimed at them and snapping, and Sarrazin doesn't seem to notice! Wake up!

Stevens has made it so that Sarrazin is unable to follow Fairchild home as planned, which gives him the opportunity to show up there when she is alone and brazenly bombard into her living room, snapping all sorts of photos of her in distress while she falls onto the couch, her long skirt eventually being drawn up to her thighs as she attempts in vain to ward him off.

Sarrazin finally arrives and angrily beats Stevens up, but at Fairchild's urging relents and lets him go.

The next day, they go to visit a police detective friend of Sarrazin's (Vince Edwards) who is of practically no help at all, explaining that, up to now, Stevens hasn't really committed any sort of crime. (This was before there was any sort of anti-stalking laws in place!)
Stevens, who apparently still has time to work at his portrait studio, though we can't see how, continues his endless pursuit of Fairchild, this time by trying to work on her friend Camp. Camp, a wisecracking, take-no-bull type listens to him for a hot second before showing him the door, though she has no idea how dangerous or deranged he might be.

To get their minds off of the sicko, Fairchild and Camp go shopping at a deluxe department store where Fairchild toys with buying something expensive to ease her mind. The clerk first shows her a huge silver elephant lighter (!), but then catches her eye with a small, heart-shaped music box. (The box plays a simplified version of the movie's love theme that was sung over the opening credits by Dionne Warwick - "Love's Hiding Place!")

She declines to purchase the trinket, but a little while later hears the music once more and cannot escape the fear that Stevens is over at the counter buying it! However, no matter what she does, she can't get a good look at the purchaser's face.

Sure enough, he later approaches her in the middle of a crowded elevator lobby and presents her with the music box. Now in a fury, she hurls it to the ground, shattering the glass top of it, and tells him to stay away from her!

Meanwhile, Sarrazin is at the TV station involved in a conversation with pop psychologist and local TV personality Joanne Linville, asking her advice about this nutjob who's become fixated on his girlfriend. She explains the delusional nature of Stevens and warns Sarrazin that he could become fatally dangerous if she makes him mad. (This conversation is, of course, taking place simultaneously as she is careening the music box to the floor and sneering at Stevens to leave her alone!)

Later, Stevens breaks into Fairchild's home and uses her shower and towels. He then places the shattered music box on her dressing table with her photo in it. She comes home and is heavily engrossed in a letter from somebody, absentmindedly going through the motions of undressing while cackling at the various contents of this letter from God knows who.

Even though she had presumably showered that morning and has since gone to the gym for a steam and a shower, she decides that she now needs a relaxing bubble bath (I don't think anyone with the possible exception of Esther Williams, Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure, 1972, or Ariel in The Little Mermaid, 1989, ever spent as much time in water as Fairchild does in this movie!)

In what was undoubtedly one of the film's showpieces, she runs a big sudsy bath in her state-of-the-art black tub, disrobes and begins to run her talon-covered hands all over her body while a sweaty, heavy-breathing Stevens watches all of it from her clothes closet! (How's that for a "Love's Hiding Place?")

She's soothing herself all over, extending a leg high into the air, when suddenly her rapturous bubble bath is interrupted by the telephone. She hurries to her dressing table to answer it when she finally spots the music box. Just then, a perspiration-covered Stevens emerges from her closet announcing that he wants to make love to her! She manages to run away, winding up in Sarrazin's arms, though by now Stevens has exited through a window and made it back home with the music box.
Fairchild is still at work on the "Sweetheart Killer" story and discovers to her horror that on one of her remote broadcasts, Stevens was standing behind her in the background of the shot! Brophy offhandedly jokes that Stevens might actually BE the Sweetheart Killer, which sends Fairchild into a tizzy.

Meanwhile, Sarrazin meets up again with his policeman pal Edwards and is dismayed to find out that there still seems to be nothing that Edwards can do about this cretin! The best advice he can offer is for Sarrazin to get Fairchild a gun! Sarrazin surmises that Edwards would rather have Fairchild blow the rabid admirer away than work on trying to arrest and prosecute him.

Stevens has upped the ante on crazy by now and has slinked into the newsroom, found a teletype machine and drawn up his own message for Fairchild to be read on the teleprompter while she's delivering the evening news. She is burning through the scrolling text as usual until suddenly arriving at his deranged message to her, which sends her off the deep end.

Back home and still horribly unnerved, she rejects Sarrazin's solution of a gun. (This could possibly be because instead of bringing her a cute, pearl-handled sort of thing, he has dragged in a giant, cock 'n load rifle for her to use against Stevens!) She declares that she is "too strong for that" though we've yet to see any evidence of such...
A call comes in from Edwards that they have FINALLY figured out who Stevens is and where he lives and that they will pay him a visit and scare him off. So the danger is apparently over (on what planet?) So Sarrazin decides to celebrate the occasion by depositing Fairchild into the hot tub and then joining her for a sultry session that includes some decidedly unappealing kisses as Fairchild robotically devours his face.
All the carnal celebrating proves to be in vain, however, as Fairchild once again is confronted by the ever- vigilant and unhinged Stevens. He continues to press her until, taking a page from Margeaux Hemingway's Lipstick (1976) book, Fairchild grabs the rifle and begins blasting the hell out of her own windows and backyard!
Still not satisfied that he's gone for good, she invites him back to her house (see? Now the title makes sense) so that she can ostensibly fulfill his long-denied fantasies yet, unbeknownst to him, get him out of her hair for good! This intensely passionate angle of Miss Fairchild has the unfortunate quality of showcasing some rhinoplasty that she'd had done at some earlier point more than anything else!

Although The Seduction was a moderate hit (especially in relation to budget and thanks to those willing to pay to see an occasional side boob from Fairchild, though there was also a fleeting front shot), it was greeted by no small amount of derision. It was nominated for three Razzie Awards:  Worst Actress & Worst New Star (both won by Pia Zadora for Butterfly, to Fairchild's undoubted relief) and Worst Supporting Actress (Camp was nominated, though Eileen Quinn "won" for Annie, though how she was placed in that category is a mystery since she played Annie!)

This alternate poster makes it look like Fairchild either plays a dual roles of perhaps evil twins or something. Note that on the left, she's looking into a mirror yet the reflection is a totally different facial angle and expression!

For the cover of the tie-in paperback (an adapted novel of the screenplay - with "16 pages of photos!" - presumably a lot of them in this post), Fairchild (as in the photo two spots above) has a small pistol versus the big ol' gun she wields in the movie itself. Also, her bedding in the movie is pale blue, unlike the peachy-pink shown here.

Ironically, while Fairchild was filming The Seduction with young Andrew Stevens, she was working alongside his mother Stella Stevens on Flamingo Road. In fact, the prime-time soap opera's storyline eventually came to reveal that Steven's prostitute character was Fairchild's rich-bitch character's biological mother!

In the wake of this film, Fairchild was relegated to TV-movies and various series attempts (such as Paper Dolls, 1984, and a stint on Falcon Crest, 1985-86.) She didn't grace movie screens again until 1985 when she, for her camp value alone, played herself to hilarious effect in Pee Wee's Big Adventure, though a few minor movies followed after that.  She continues to act on TV and in movies and is sixty-six years of age now.

Canadian actor Sarrazin was the star of one of our recently featured treasures Eye of the Cat (1969), but is better known for They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) and For Pete's Sake (1974) opposite Barbra Streisand, among others. Sarrazin passed away of cancer in 2008 at age seventy.

Edwards was born in New York and trained to be a swimmer while in high school (his college team - Ohio State University - won the National Championship while he was there), later turning to bodybuilding. His impressive physique won him a Paramount contract and roles in several films including Mister Universe (1951) and the lead in Hiawatha (1952.)
His greatest fame, though, occurred when he starred in the TV medical drama Ben Casey from 1961-1966 as the brooding but dedicated title physician. Always a rather confident (some might say cocky) type, he entered into a dispute with fellow (rival) TV doctor Richard Chamberlain of Dr. Kildare (1961-1966) that resulted in insults and ultimately his tossing ice cream onto Chamberlain's suit and ending their association for good. Ben Casey's popularity led to a few more movie roles, though by 1982 his acting career had cooled considerably.

Nevertheless, he stayed active in one project or another almost up until his death in 1996 of pancreatic cancer at age sixty-seven.

Stevens had been working on TV in the series The Oregon Trail (1976-1977) and starring in the high-profile miniseries The Bastard (1978) and The Rebel (1979) as well as costarring with Kirk Douglas in The Fury (1978) and Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin in Death Hunt (1981) prior to this. Apart from another movie with Bronson (10 to Midnight, 1983), it was back to TV for him as well for several years.  He is now sixty years old. You can read all about Stevens here in his very own Underworld tribute.
Camp had been working on TV and the occasional movie since the early-1970s, notably in Peter Bogdanovich's They All Laughed (1981) prior to this. She also played Sue Ellen's younger sister Kristin on Dallas twice in 1979 before Mary Crosby inherited the role and the infamy of being the one who "shot J.R." A long career, with movies such as Valley Girl (1983), Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985) and, particularly, Clue (1985) followed. In 1989, she appeared in the execrable Wicked Stepmother, which was Bette Davis' last film (though Davis departed before it had finished shooting.)  Davis happened to be quite a fan of The Seduction, which was broadcast endlessly on cable, and even wrote a fan letter to Morgan Fairchild complimenting her performance, Razzies be damned! Camp still keeps busy on screen today and is sixty-two.

Brophy got his start in 1977 with the short-lived TV series Lucan, about a young man who'd spent the first ten years of his life being raised by wolves and who'd developed various heightened senses of sight, hearing and smell as a result. Though he didn't enjoy a long period in front of the camera as an actor, one minor credit did prove to be beneficial. In 1981, he costarred in Hell Night, a teen slasher flick, along with Peter Barton. Thirty years later, a fan of both the actors died without any heirs and left Brophy and Barton $500,000 apiece! See? You never know who might be watching! He is sixty-three today.

An even shorter career was led by Wendy Smith Howard (debuting here) who essayed a supporting role as Stevens' assistant at the photography studio who nursed an unrequited love for him. She exhibits a certain amount of obsessiveness herself, dropping rather obvious hints to him time and again and even showing up at his house to tearfully express her devotion to him, but he'll have none of it.

Linville only appeared in one brief scene as the rather blunt psychologist. Over the years she popped up in scores of TV guest appearances, but few as memorable as her 1968 appearance as a female Romulan on Star Trek in which she dallied a bit with the stoic Mr. Spock. Once married for a decade to director Mark Rydell, she is the mother of handsome actor Christopher Rydell. Linville retired for all intents and purposes in 2001, but she is still alive today at age eighty-eight.
I will leave you with this shot of Fairchild, Stevens, Camp and Edwards at the Atlantic City premiere of The Seduction, happy before the Razzie nominations were announced. Should you wish to get a taste of the movie without sitting through the entire thing, the trailer is available for viewing here and is of better video quality than the caps I've shown in this post. You can revel in the glitzy, tacky wonder of the movie while only giving up less than two minutes of your life! Ha!

15 comments:

Gingerguy said...

Great post Poseidon, any day that starts with Morgan Fairchild will be a good one. I worked with a guy who told me he went to Juilliard with her, and that Morgan's real name is Patty McKlenny, and she had a talented Sister named Cathy (or the other way around). I have always wondered if it was true. That sounds like a pretty fabulous made up name. I was at a party in the 80's and there was a guy who wore a blonde wig and was carrying a brunette wig, and kept changing them all night because he couldn't decide if he was Morgan Fairchild or Morgan Brittany. I just watched this on youtube and it's worth it just for the very 80's opening credits in the swimming pool. It's a fun movie(if you can laugh at psychopaths). Andrew Stevens is WAY better here than he was as the psycho in "Hollywood Wives" so I had some trepidation. I think Morgan must have had Jacuzzis in her contract, as there was a mauve one in the bedroom on "Paper Dolls" As a kid I first noticed her in "The Initiation Of Sarah" and she never disappoints in the bitch department. I recognize Colleen Camp as the busty maid in "Clue". This was a fabulous read.

Roberta Steve said...

Ha, Poseidon, you picked one of my favorite actresses from campy 70s and 80s TV. My mom was a huge Search for Tomorrow fan, and I remember Morgan as the devious Jennifer Tate very well. With her meticulous blond mane, expertly applied make up and somewhat unique features (the slightly pug nose) she really stood out from the drab denizens of Henderson.

For years as we watched her move into primetime as a guest star in various series and made-for-TV movies, we always referred to her as Jennifer Tate!

I remember catching a PG edited version of this movie on late night TV a while ago. It is every bit as tacky and wondrous as you described. As for Morgan's performance all I can say is that she was upstaged by her complex eye make up and contour/blush. She looked like she bought and wore the entire Avon catalogue.

I know others have commented here about their ambivalence to Michael Sarrazin. I didn't get his appeal then and still don't now. He looks like Jim Hutton's nerdy little brother.

Andrew Stevens really cornered the market for psychopathic/stalker roles in the 80s. He even appeared on an episode of Murder, She Wrote as an assistant to Jessica Fletcher who may be harboring an unhealthy attachment to the mystery writer old enough to be his mother (grandmother?)

One final thought: I can make fun of the blond, beauty queen over made up style that Morgan gives her intrepid TV anchor in this movie, until I realize that in real life every news woman and female commentator on Fox News looks like her now. The false eyelashes budget for Fox must be off the charts!

Roberta Steve said...

PS Poseidon, forgot to mention that Morgan was recognized by the screen actors guild for contributions to the Union recently. She's been a very active board member/committee chair. She's also a big pro-choice advocate. There's a brain under all that blond hair!

PSS She's also extremely well preserved. Breast implants, veneers and some tweaks here and there (it looks like more rhinoplasty) were very well done. She looks good, not waxy. Smart lady indeed!

Gingerguy said...

Hilarious Roberta Steve
-"The false eyelashes budget for Fox must be off the charts!" I thought that very same thing about Megyn Kelly-totally "Showgirls"

Poseidon3 said...

Hey, you two! I'm glad you got a kick out of this!

Ginge, Morgan's birth name was Patsy Ann McClenny. Patsy McClenny! Seems so Irish, right? One of her claims to fame is that she was Faye Dunaway's stand-in/double during some of the location filming for Bonnie & Clyde. Those two don't seem built the same way at all to me! So funny about the guy with the wigs. There was a TV special in 1984 starring Morgan & Joan Collins called "Blondes vs Brunettes" and in it Morgan played Alexis for a spoof on "Dynasty" and Joan donned a blonde Krystle wig! I was going to mention "Hollywood Wives" in this post and neglected to. Andrew was just heinous in his second role in that one, with that horrid wig and bushy beard. Lawd... And, yes, I certainly recall Morgan (and Dack Rambo) lolling around in her office (!) jacuzzi on "Paper Dolls!"

Roberta, hilarious memories of SFT and the makeup, etc... One thing about Morgan Fairchild. She is DISTINCTIVE. No one else looked, sounded or acted quite the same way as her. You always know her voice when you hear it. As for Sarrazin, he was so lank and bug-eyed. It sort of worked okay for him as a youth, but by now (and after endless cigs), he just wasn't cutting it for me, either. And as for Andrew, I recently watched a "Columbo" TV-movie in which he was the killer of older gal pal Janet Margolin and then proceeded to try to seduce her sister Brenda Vaccaro! LOL

I haven't looked it up lately, but Ms. Farichild was the subject of some criticism not long ago for her alleged expertism on some subject, I can't even recall if it was political or medical, just that people were up in arms over her lack of concrete credentials to say whatever it was she was saying. It does seem to me that in recent years she has been able to have some fun with herself on sitcoms and so forth which is good for one's sanity when you've played so many soapy heroines and villains. I could do a whole post based solely upon some of her hooty big haired, "complex" eye makeup looks during the '80s! :-)

DevilYouKnow said...

I live for your recaps and I love me some Morgan Fairchild. You know how you just love certain actresses and almost everything they've been in? That's Morgan Fairchild for me. I've been jonesing for a good 80s flick, so thanks for the recommendation. I looked this up on YouTube hoping to get lucky and yup, it's there in full. It's a bit pixelated but I'm loving all the 80s kitsch - black laquer, hot tubs, oh yeah!

GOODSTUFF said...


Morgan Fairchild crowning glory was she dated John Kerry. However, it didn't work out. Apparently she couldn't handle dating someone with bigger hair.

More: http://goodstuffsworld.blogspot.com/2014/08/goodstuffs-blogging-magazine-149th-issue.html

Poseidon3 said...

DevilYouKnow, thank you so much! I wish I could do even more recaps than I do. They tend to be the most time-consuming of all (since I usually describe the movie AND many of the stars in it, too!), so I have to pick and choose the opportunities when they come. This one was a tad shorter than some others have been, but I also didn't want to give away too much. Tomorrow is opening night for a three-week run of my latest musical production (and it's completely sold out already!), so my time will be even more consumed for that period, I'm afraid. I'm glad you were able to see this. I was working from an old VHS (!) and I know that it was once released on DVD, but I saw where Amazon had one copy and it was $119.00!!! Someone out there is missing their chance to make a buck on this again by re-releasing it.

Goodstuff... those pics of MF were fun! Thanks for sharing. She has got some HI-larious portraits out there from the big-80s, etc...

Poseidon3 said...

Some dear soul JUST put the movie up on youtube (possibly in a better-defined version than the one some of you have seen there) - I mean like less than 5 people have viewed it! - and this is the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQRrJahqZ_4

What's weird is that the widescreen version shows LESS skin. Andrew Stevens is cropped higher in his "naked" apartment scene and Morgan's close-up, pre-bath boob shot is not seen at all. On my VHS, you could clearly see one of them in full and even that is cropped down from a previous rendition which showed them both (a screencap is easily seen in a Google search.) So I don't know if it was always a widescreen movie that was recropped for video or if these widescreen versions are just carved out from the middle of a formerly more square ratio. (Sorry to be all "techie" which I quite obviously am not based on my lack of proper terminology, etc...! LOL)

Gingerguy said...

p.s. Poseidon for some reason I only noticed the title of this post this morning reading the comments and laughed so loud people stared at me, so I should be careful reading the underworld on the subway! :)

joel65913 said...

Boy oh boy is this a dilly! I recall when it came out it was supposed to launch poor Miss Fairchild into the big leagues and received a tremendous pre-release push. But then it came out and was obviously a pile of crap and that was that for the big screen dreams. I've always like Morgan, she's wise and knowing on screen and seems like a good person offscreen as well. Whenever she shows up even in the worst schlock, and I've seen her in stuff that beggars the imagination, you are assured at least a little enjoyment for as long as she's around.

She's always had a bit of a worked on look, your reference to her nose job is apt-its a bit too structured to be real, but very pulled together and animated. Unfortunately I think she's tipped her toe into the surgery pool once too often now, the last time I saw her on Revenge about a year ago she has a frozen, waxy look. Hopefully she noticed too and lays off. Be that as it may her droll personality makes her a consistently welcome personality.

sowhatelse said...

Poseidon, best wishes on your show this weekend! Always love your recaps and especially when you put the stars' careers in context and then provide some personal info about them. Had to look up Ms. Fairchild on imdb and of course The Seduction was listed as her chief reference. Was amazed to see her list of credits. She's continued to find work for decades and even if it wasn't what might be called a top shelf role, she's probably the envy of many actresses of similar vintage.

I remember her as the first Jenna Wade on Dallas, a role which was then played by another actress and finally going to Priscilla Presley. Even if I at that point was secretly lusting after Patrick Duffy instead of his girlfriends, I still remember Fairchild as being almost unearthly beautiful at the time.

Poseidon3 said...

Ginge, I put a LOT of thoughts into my punny titles and sometimes it pays off. Glad you liked this one, but sorry if you got any wayward glances from people. LOL

Joel, I was 15 when this came out and I recall (especially now that you've mentioned it) how BEFORE this was released it seemed to herald the "arrival" of Morgan Fairchild as a screen star. Then phhffft... But, oh, did I love the hot tub moments once it made its way to cable. I'm starting to feel a little bad about the "rhinoplasty" thing because I very recently saw an old photo of her from high school or perhaps college and she has the very same nose! So it's either her own or she was worked on at a pretty tender age... No matter, that particular shot in the movie was just not flattering.

Sowhatelse, I vividly recall her as Jenna Wade. I was in front of that TV for every early episode of "Dallas." They brought in someone named Francine Tacker (who'd made a bit of a splash on the TV rendition of "The Paper Chase") and she was just sort of weird and creepy in the part! Bobby slept with her, I think, and I was rather put off. LOL

Ken Anderson said...

Yes, another wonderful post! One I'm especially grateful for because although I saw this film countless times on cable TV in the 80s (having a lot of fun with friends at the expense of Ms. Fairchild, I'm afraid) I hardly remember a thing about about it.
I do recall the big push it got here in LA when it was released, followed by the quick fizzle.
Having a memory of a time when Fairchild was being promoted as THE sex goddess of the day makes me feel really old now that I see her on TV doing commercials for burial planning.

She's very active and political on Twitter and is very kind in responding or expressing thanks if you ever tweet anything about her.
The one thing I DO remember about this movie that you so hilariously comment upon, is how much time she spends in the water! It's like a running gag!

rico said...

I've always thought of Morgan Fairchild as one of those smart actresses who got stuck in dumb projects.

My Morgan moment: I'll never forget when she played "Flamingo Road's" version of Alexis Carrington. In one episode, after pretending to be paralyzed after a fall, she leaps out of her wheelchair in an emotional reaction, lap blanket tossed aside, and revealed to be wearing daisy dukes!