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The Point of Betrayal (1995)

Rod Taylor plays Ted Kitteridge in a thriller that examines how "absolute money corrupts absolutely."

The movie's alternate title is "Shattered Trust." Rod is also the headliner of an "alternate" cast.

"We had cast a couple of other actors who fell out the weekend prior to shooting," director Richard Martini said. "The producer, Jonathan Krane, suggested Rod Taylor and Dina Merrill as replacements. They both agreed."

Thank goodness!

The movie features a rare big-screen love story involving a 60-something couple. Lush South Florida locales provide the backdrop.

Laura (Dina Merrill) is a wealthy widow who marries Ted to share her twilight years. But Laura's son, David (Rick Johnson), is suspicious that his new stepfather is going to spend his billion-dollar inheritance -- never mind that Ted has his own millions to spend. Rick's fear rises after Ted impulsively buys an exotic summer home to share with Laura.

(The exotic summer home is a lighthouse, with a below-ground living area. The lighthouse is labled "Betrayal Point, South Carolina" in the movie. But the exterior is the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the interior is the bizarre Underground House in Las Vegas.)

After Ted and Laura move in to their new digs, David gains control of his mother's finances and hires a sexy, sneaky nurse, Monet (Rebecca Broussard), to keep an eye on Laura -- and to mess with her medication. Daughter Sara (Ann Cusack) seems to mediate the family conflict, but all's not what it appears to be.

Rod's in fine form, and there are some Taylor-made staples for his fans: Fisticuffs and a glimpse of bare chest.

The Palm Beach Post newspaper dropped in on the filming of a scene at the Boca Raton Hotel and Club, and here's part of the report, from Nov. 14, 1994:

While Taylor wanders off to prepare for his on-camera entrance, Merrill watches affectionately and says, "It's fun to work with Rod again." ... The first time, she recalls, was a guest appearance on one of Taylor's TV series. [The "Lady Godiva" episode of "Hong Kong."]

They started at the crack of dawn, so I arrived at 7:30 ready to rehearse. And it was, 'Miss Merrill, this is Mr. Taylor.' 'How do you do?' 'Nice to meet you.' 'OK, we're shooting a love scene. Would you mind getting in bed?' It's true! By lunch we knew each other pretty well.

[Later in the article] ... Merrill and Taylor take their places to film a simple but emotional scene. The actors run through a couple of rehearsals; a special effects technician creates a dreamy atmosphere by blowing smoke onto the set. The cameras roll for a take, and Taylor slowly enters the ballroom, jacket in hand, and sits at a table. He seems weary and melancholy, and then he looks up to see Merrill, off-camera. His face lights up as he smiles and says, "I've missed you."

"I've missed you, my love. Dance with me," says Merrill, radiant in an electric-blue dress. Taylor moves to join her. They embrace and dance.

Director Richard Martini was exuberant in his praise for Rod, saying: "Rod is truly one of the greatest actors I've ever worked with. He's charming, funny, brilliant, a terrific writer, and a painter as well. ... I love Rod's work in 'Point of Betrayal.' ... He actually makes you care about the characters."

In 2015, Martini wrote a blog item in remembrance of Rod:

Rod was the smartest actor I've ever met. He knew more about the camera, about directing, about staging, about choreographing a fight scene than anyone on the crew. He would come in with new scenes that I had encouraged him to rewrite - and they were always 100 times better than what I had written or were on the page.

Rod choreographed the fight scene in the movie. "We were losing the light and it was shot in one take," Martini said.

Martini also explains what happened to "Point of Betrayal" after filming:

Made for under a million, it was a thriller that was purchased by HBO and Paramount Home Video for distribution. I thought that was fantastic. Then it turned out no one had done an E and O [Errors and Omissions] for the film - an insurance document. So Paramount sued the producer, and the film was put on a shelf. It was distributed overseas, but the film has never been seen in theaters in the U.S. outside its premiere at the Palm Beach Film Festival.
 

"Point of Betrayal" won the award for Best Feature at the Palm Beach International Film Festival in April 1996.

 

 

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LINKS

IMDb // Wikipedia

On the Set, Palm Beach Post article, Nov. 14, 1994 (PDF)

In Honor of Departed Pals Howard Shultz and Rod Taylor, by "Point of Betrayal" director Richard Martini

 

VIEWER'S GUIDE

DVD on Amazon.com
(non-USA format)

VHS on Amazon.com

Movie clip on YouTube

Fight scene on YouTube

 

 

 

         
   

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