While not without its problems, Rich and Famous is an absorbing drama of some notable qualities, the greatest of which is a gutsy, fascinating and largely magnificent performance by Jacqueline Bisset. Tale delineating the friendship of two smart, creative ladies over a period of two decades makes for ‘women’s picture’ in the best sense of the term.
Plot dynamics of Gerald Ayres’ imaginative, very modern updating of John Van Druten’s 1940 play Old Acquaintance rather closely follow those of Warner Brothers’ solid 1943 film version, which starred Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins. Bisset and Bergen essay college chums whose lives intersect at crucial points over the years.
A recurrent spot in which the pic seems to miss its potential is the occasional confrontation scene in which the ladies have at it in shouting cat fights. These abusive sessions invariably deal with the essence of their relationship, but they have been directed at such a fast pace that the emotional depthcharges fizzle out on the surface.
For a bright, sophisticated piece such as this, particularly one under the guidance of the irrepressibly elegant Goerge Cukor, the somewhat harsh, murky visual style is suprising. Cukor took over the production on short notice when original director Robert Mulligan was replaced after four days’ lensing (none of the latter’s footage remains).