Air Date: September 20, 1972 (ABC Wednesday Movie of the Week)
Production Companies: ABC Circle Films
Running Time: 75 min.
Available on: YouTube
Written by: William Wood (teleplay), TK Brown III (story)
Directed by: Paul Wendkos
Cast: Lloyd Bridges, Cloris Leachman, Edward Asner, Anne Francis, Tony Bill, Donna Mills, Robert Reed, Moses Gunn
In Haunts of the Very Rich (1972), the clues to what’s happening are disbursed slowly at first, then the remainder all at once. Interestingly,the movie toys with us as much as it does its characters and we’re still not sure until the very end where a mysterious airplane has taken them. Heck, I’m not even sure I know exactly what the ending means! I’m probably overthinking it.
Nevertheless, I want to be careful when writing about it, because Haunts of the Very Rich depends heavily on your interpretation of events. I don’t even want to say what the different options for resolution might be. Therefore, this is one of those movies in which the characters and the acting are the highlights. It’s about as close to an “all-star cast” as you can get: Lloyd Bridges! Cloris Leachman! Ed Asner! Anne Francis! Tony Bill! Donna Mills! Robert Reed!
Of these well-known actors, it’s surprisingly Robert Reed who shines the brightest. He plays Rev. John Fellows, a man of the cloth who seems to have lost his faith. The purpose of his journey is to study a tribe of indigenous people. After a peyote ceremony, he returns to the others and, even if there was a happy person among them, his dark news would certainly send them falling into depression.
Cloris Leachman comes in second, delivering a touching performance as Ellen Blunt, a plain-Jane single who blossoms as Dave Woodrough (Lloyd Bridges) sees her in a new light. It’s as if Ellen becomes a new person the more Dave sees of her true self and gives her positive reinforcement for perhaps the first time in her life. For those familiar with Leachman only from comedy, this might be jarring, but she’s quite good with drama.
Lloyd Bridges has perhaps the most complex character on the surface. From the very beginning, he presents himself as a lecherous old man that probably has a wife he left at home. Is he married and going on a cheating vacation, or is he divorced and acting as a free agent? Appearances are not what they seem and our feelings about his character change, perhaps a few times.
I suppose I should at least provide the situation. Haunts of the Very Rich opens on a chartered plane with our characters all there for different reasons and not quite remembering how they got there. They each have a brochure enticing them to visit “the portals of Eden” that appeals to their specific circumstances. When the plane lands and they’re greeted by their host, Seacrist (Moses Gunn), I immediately thought, “Fantasy Island!”
However, other than staying at a beautiful resort in rooms that are again customized to their specific circumstances, the movie isn’t divided into separate stories. Ultimately, it’s about them collectively, an existential drama about not only them, but all mankind. I’m probably rating this lower than I should, but that’s simply because it’s very talky with little action. It’s appropriate for the material, and fascinating, but not always completely entertaining.
Visit the TV Terror Guide: 70's TV Movies playlist at ClassicHorrors.Club TV on YouTube to watch Haunts of the Very Rich, as well as all the great movies from this series...