The Bitch (film)
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|Directed by||Gerry O'Hara|
|Produced by||Brent Walker|
|Screenplay by||Gerry O'Hara|
|Based on||The Bitch (novel)|
by Jackie Collins
|Edited by||Eddy Joseph|
|Distributed by||Thorn EMI|
Hoyts Distribution (Australia)
|Box office||£7.5 million ( Video Rentals £1.5 million)|
The film is considered to be "soft porn". Like The Stud, it is set against a backdrop of the late 1970s London nightclub scene and makes prominent use of its disco soundtrack, much in the vein of Saturday Night Fever (1977). The opening credits show the transformation of Joan Collins from bare face ( no makeup ) to a fully made up Glamourous look that The Actress is usually associated with.
This was apparently Ms Collins own idea and marked one of the few times that a Hollywood Star showed her unadorned Face to the public in a relatively high profile Film. Joan Collins was 46 years old at the time.
Following from where The Stud left off, Fontaine Khaled is now a divorcee. While she still leads an extravagant jetset lifestyle, she no longer has the financial security of being a billionaire's wife and her once-successful London nightclub, "Hobo", is now failing. While on a flight returning to London from New York, she meets handsome Italian gambler Nico Cantafora. In order to impress Fontaine, Nico pretends he is a wealthy businessman, though he is actually a conman who owes money to the mafia and he covertly uses Fontaine to smuggle a stolen diamond ring through airport customs which he intends to sell in London to pay off his debts.
Nico later tracks Fontaine down in order to retrieve the ring she unwittingly carried through customs for him. They spend the night together but when she discovers that he planted the ring in her coat, she throws him out. However, when Nico later learns that the ring is a fake, he gives it to Fontaine as a light-hearted gift and she forgives him. Meanwhile, Fontaine's own financial problems continue to mount and her accountant warns her that she is rapidly running out of money. To combat this, she attempts to restore her failing nightclub to its former glory. Meanwhile, she learns of Nico's mob connections after he is beaten up by local gangsters due to the money he still owes them.
Later, Fontaine and Nico are invited to the country estate of Fontaine's best friends, Leonard and Vanessa Grant. The Grants own a racehorse named Plato that is favourite to win an upcoming high-stakes derby. Still in debt to the mafia, Nico is instructed by local gangland boss Thrush Feathers to ensure that Plato loses the race. To this effect, Nico blackmails the horse's jockey to throw the race. Fontaine overhears Nico's plan and meets with Feathers to get a cut of the deal with him which could solve her financial problems. Feathers agrees so that Fontaine won't interfere with his plans and will also be indebted to him.
On the day of the race, the jockey falls off the horse as planned and loses the race. Fontaine pretends to Nico that she betted her entire fortune on Plato to win and now she is broke, but Nico is ecstatic because he backed the winning horse and now believes he can get the mafia off his back once and for all. However, the mafia have other ideas for him and after he gives Fontaine his winning tickets to collect on his behalf, he is carted off by Feathers' henchmen. Fontaine, meanwhile, goes to collect a double payout - with Nico's winning tickets and her cut from Feathers for going along with his scam.
With the money she made from the horse race scam, and her nightclub a success again, Fontaine is saved from financial ruin. But when she arrives at her club one evening, she meets Feathers there who tells everyone he is now the club's new owner.
Jackie Collins had apparently given her sister Joan the rights to both The Stud and The Bitch for free so that they could be turned into movies. After funding was secured, the films were co-produced by the sisters' husbands at the time (Oscar Lerman who was married to Jackie, and Ron Kass who was married to Joan).
Although The Stud novel was made into a film nine years after its 1969 publication, The Bitch novel was published the same year the film came out. The film (written and directed by Gerry O'Hara) differs from Collins' novel slightly, particularly the ending. The novel contains a more romantic ending with Fontaine and Nico both backing the losing horse and ending up broke but still in love with each other, whereas the film has a more convoluted ending that left the door open for a potential sequel with Fontaine dealing with shady characters from London's underworld. Jackie Collins had anticipated writing a third book in the series, also to be filmed and starring Joan. However, this never came to pass and instead she went on to write the first of her Santangelo mafia-themed novels with 1981's Chances.
The Bitch was one of the most popular films of 1979 at the British box office.
Although both The Stud and The Bitch were generally panned by critics and viewed as being little more than softcore porn, they were nevertheless both commercial successes and helped to revive Joan Collins' flagging career. Her performances as the insatiable "rich bitch" Fontaine Khaled later attracted the attention of Aaron Spelling and Esther and Richard Shapiro when they were looking for an actress to play the part of Alexis Carrington in their TV series Dynasty.
Much in the vein of Saturday Night Fever, the film features a disco soundtrack. The theme song to the film performed by Olympic Runners became a UK Top 40 hit single in August 1979, while the soundtrack album itself peaked at peaked at #39 in November. Released on Warwick Records, the album contained twenty songs that were featured in the film. Although some of these were existing hits, several were written especially for the film, including the Olympic Runners' title track, "Pour Your Little Heart Out" by The Sylistics, "Dancing On The Edge Of A Heartache" by The Hunters, "I Feel Lucky Tomight" by Linda Lewis and The Stylistics, "Music You Are" by George Chandler, and "Standing In The Shadows Of Love" by Deborah Washington. The film score was written by Biddu, with lyrics by Don Black.
- Simon Sheridan Keeping the British End Up: Four Decades of Saucy Cinema, Reynolds & Hearn Books (third edition, 2007)
- Harper, Sue (2011). British Film Culture in the 1970s: The Boundaries of Pleasure: The Boundaries of Pleasure. Edinburgh University Press. p. 273. ISBN 9780748654260.
- The 1970s Manchester Evening News, 7 May 2005. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 406. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.