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Film / The V.I.P.s

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The V.I.P.s is a 1963 film directed by Anthony Asquith.note 

It is a Grand Hotel-style movie centering around a bunch of first-class passengers at Heathrow Airport, seeking to take a flight to New York. They include:

  • Frances Andros (Elizabeth Taylor), dropped off at the airport by her husband, billionaire industrialist Paul Andros (Richard Burton). Before Paul leaves the two of them bump into acquaintance Marc Champselle (Louis Jourdan), also waiting for the New York flight. What Paul doesn't know is that Marc and Frances are lovers, they are running away together, and there is a "Dear John" Letter waiting for him back home.
  • Les Mangrum (Rod Taylor), who isn't a titan of industry on the scale of Paul Andros but does run his own company, manufacturing tractors. He is fighting off a hostile takeover bid from a conglomerate, Amalgamated Motors. Les is forced to write a check for over £150,000 to buy back some stock to keep it out of the hands of Amalgamated. He doesn't have enough money in his account to write that check, but it won't get deposited until tomorrow. Les figures that after reaching New York he can get his partners on the board to cover it, and save the company. He is accompanied by his secretary, Dee Mead (29-year-old Maggie Smith), who is in love with him.
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  • Movie director/producer Max Buda (Orson Welles), who is accompanied by his actress lover Gloria Gritti. Max is on the flight to New York, because if he stays one more day, it will be a year and he'll officially be a British resident. That will leave him owing the Queen over a million pounds in tax.
  • The Duchess of Brighton (Margaret Rutherford), a cheerful old lady who is headed to Florida to work at a resort.

Bascially, everybody except for the duchess is under time pressure to get to New York. So they are not happy when Heathrow is socked in by fog and their flight is grounded, leading them stranded at the airport.

The first of eleven films co-starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor; actually produced after Cleopatra, but due to that Epic Movie's Troubled Production, this one hit screens first. Miklós Rózsa composed the score. Supposedly the Frances-Paul-Marc storyline was inspired by a Real Life incident in which Vivien Leigh attempted to run away with her lover Peter Finch, only for her husband Laurence Olivier to chase her down and bring her home when the flight was delayed by fog.

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Tropes:

  • And the Adventure Continues: The movie ends with the obsequious first-class lounge manager greeting a whole new set of VIPs.
  • The Cameo: David Frost plays a reporter who may or may not be himself.
  • Cool Old Lady: The duchess, who is cheerful and fun, although that mood is influenced by the whole pharmacy of pills that she spends the movie popping. She's popping uppers before the flight. When she takes some downers after getting into her seat she says "I'm flying already!"
  • Cut Himself Shaving: The confrontation between Paul and Frances ends with him grabbing her, her pulling away, and her smacking into a mirror and slicing her forearm. She tells the doctor that she had an accident.
  • Deus ex Machina: Les avoids the loss of his company, financial ruin, and possible prison, when Paul Andros writes a check to cover Les's check, after a plea from Miss Mead. It turns out that once in his career Paul was in a jam like Les is, and Paul solved it by getting married to wealthy Frances.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After his desperate call to a New York investor is rebuffed, and Les realizes that he will be completely screwed tomorrow when the check bounces, he orders "a lot of champagne." Paul Andros for his part goes to the first-class lounge to drink whiskey after Frances rebuffs his offer of a reconciliation.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: A day, with the main characters staying in the airport hotel after their morning flight to New York is cancelled.
  • Gold Digger: Paul calls Marc this—in fact, he calls him a "man whore" and "gigolo". Marc admits that he has done this in the past but it seems that he's truly in love with Frances.
  • Land Poor: The duchess, although it's not confirmed until her last line of dialogue. It turns out there's a reason she's headed to Florida. After Buda's agent strikes a deal to use her mansion for a film shoot for £300 a day for six weeks, the duchess says "Now I can keep my home."
  • Marriage Before Romance: Dialogue reveals that in the backstory, Paul found himself in a jam similar to Les's, and married Frances for her Old Money. He remarks how strage it is that he fell in love with her later.
  • Marriage of Convenience: The cancellation of the flight means that in order to avoid the tax hit, Max has to marry Gloria and sign over his interest in the movie to her. It's not so bad, since she's extremely good-looking, but he will be forced to cast her in his upcoming Mary, Queen of Scots movie.
  • Oblivious to Love: Les doesn't pick up on the worshipful glances that Dee casts at him, nor does he clue in when, after he looks to be ruined, she says she'd work for him for nothing. He finally figures it out in the end after she swoops in with Andros's check and saves the day.
  • Secret Test of Character: Frances says that she has no money and is getting none from Paul due to adultery and that Marc will have to support them. He blinks for a little bit and then starts talking about how he can go pro as a golfer, before she reveals that she has $300,000 in trust from her father.
  • Video Credits: The opening credits show all the principal cast getting ready and going to the airport, each as their name pops up onscreen.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Frances Andros is cheating on her husband with Marc the gigolo.
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