Moore Not Less - Bed & Breakfast

As an ongoing tribute to Roger Moore I plan to continue the 'Moore Not Less' series of articles and rummage through the many films that Roger made in his career. Bed & Breakfast was one of the few films Roger acted in after his long tenure as James Bond and before he concentrated mainly on his charity work for UNICEF. He agreed to act in Bed & Breakfast after meeting Jack Schwartzman and Talia Shire at a party and thought it would be nice to remind people that he hadn't retired just yet.
Roger liked the script and the fact that it was nothing like James Bond. Bed & Breakfast was an independent production and Roger agreed to waive his fee in favour of a profit share and producer's credit. About six people watched the film in the end so I doubt that it added a new wing to Roger Towers in Switzerland.
Although Bed & Breakfast has been almost completely forgotten it deserved a somewhat better fate as it's a very charming little film at times and one of the better pictures Roger featured in outside of Bond. It was shot in 1989 and given a limited release three years later in 1992 (which probably all explains its relative obscurity).
Bed & Breakfast was the last film of Colleen Dewhurst - who sadly died a few years later in 1991. Talia Shire is of course best known as Rocky's wife Adrian and for her role in The Godfather films.
Bed & Breakfast was produced by Jack Schwartzman, who also produced the renegade Sean Connery Bond film Never Say Never Again (which went up against Roger's Octopussy in 1983). Further James Bond connections with Bed & Breakfast? The director Robert Ellis Miller had recently directed Timothy Dalton in Hawks and Brenda Starr.
Bed & Breakfast revolves around three generations of women who run a (you guessed it) struggling Bed & Breakfast in a picturesque coastal town in Maine. The earthy Ruth (Colleen Dewhurst) is bored and seeks some excitement in her autumn years while her sensitive daughter-in-law Claire (Talia Shire) is a widow suffering from the humiliation caused by a warts and all biography which suggested that her late politician husband was less than faithful to her.
Last but not least is Claire's daughter Cassie (Nina Siemaszko) - who suffers from the usual emotional ups and downs and strops of teenage life and wants to be a musician despite the pressure Claire puts on her to pursue a more academic life and maybe go into politics like her father.
One day the women find a bloodied bedraggled stranger washed up on the beach and after some debate allow him to recover in the Bed & Breakfast. The stranger is a suave Englishman (played by Roger naturally) who they come to know as Adam. Despite the initial protests of Claire, they allow him to stay to do odd jobs around the house and he begins to have a profound effect on their lives.
He encourages Ruth to seek love late in life, begins a tentative romance with Claire, and supports Cassie in her desire to have a career in music. But Adam has a shady past that he won't be able to escape forever. This being a film that shady past will be deployed at some point during the running time for dramatic purposes but perhaps, in this case, it didn't really need to.

There isn't much of a plot to Bed & Breakfast and not an awful lot happens but it doesn't really matter in the end. The lovely seascapes are the star of the film and give Bed & Breakfast a lot of charm. Lighthouses, rocky beaches. It's one of those films where you wouldn't mind entering the screen for an hour or so to wander around Purple Rose of Cairo style.
Roger looks very handsome and young for his age in the film. The end of those long days at Pinewood shooting Bond films looks like it did him the world of good. Adam claims amnesia but we know he's an old rogue and con artist of some sort because we see some young yuppie gangster types throwing him off a boat. They predictably turn up looking for him too in the end. You could have lost the gangsters subplot without harming the film at all. These very 1980s baddies are a little jarring and very dated.
Adam's arc in the film takes him from bounder to a real hero of sorts and while Roger was never going to be terribly stretched by a part that required him to play a suave Englishman he does well with the role I think and has a natural screen charisma that he sometimes never got the credit for. The device of a mysterious stranger being washed ashore or turning a household upside down is well worn in fiction and film and Bed & Breakfast - while not the most scintillating example of this - is very likeable.
All three actresses work well with Roger, especially Colleen Dewhurst, and there are some very pretty looking scenes of characters on the beach. Talia Shire is probably the only cast member who overeggs her part a bit as if she's in some chamber piece drama but Nina Siemaszko is appealing as the free-spirited Cassie. The sequences where Cassie practices her music and goes all Nigel Kennedy in the house are enjoyable. If Bed & Breakfast has a message it's that you should never give up on your dreams. All the actors in the film are good and have their moments.
Bed & Breakfast never quite works as a drama of any real substance and it's not really funny enough to be described as a comedy but it is a very, very pleasant film that lulls you in with the lovely locations and familiar faces onscreen. It's a nice way to pass an hour and a half and worth watching if you've never seen it before.
- Jake

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