Based on a novel by Harold Robbins, The Betsy looks like a TV miniseries with added nudity and swearing as hot-shot racing driver Angelo Perino with mob connections (Tommy Lee Jones) and crusty old car manufacturer and owner of the Bethlehem Motor Company Loren Hardeman Sr. – referred to as “Number One” by everyone – (Laurence Olivier) take turns to work their way through the female members of the cast.
The duo also attempts to design an economic everyday production-line car that will transform the industry, called the Betsy – after Hardeman’s granddaughter (Kathleen Beller). Of course, Detroit – and revenge-driven grandson Loren Hardeman III (Robert Duvall) – do their damndest to kill the revolutionary car off.
The film has two stories in one: a 1970s drama with a series of flashbacks to the Roaring Twenties. Basically, it’s a fairly confusing tale of whom is having an affair with whom. We learn that Hardeman Snr earlier had an affair with his son’s wife (Katharine Ross), while the son indulged in homosexual goings-on.
Hardeman’s grandson commits adultery with Lady Bobby Ayres (Lesley-Anne Down) who, in turn, is sharing a bed with Angelo Perino, who is also the love target of the real Betsy.
Olivier, Duvall, and Lee Jones are terrible in this (one assumes the money must’ve been great!), the script is appalling and many of the younger leads are just bland and boring – but if you like trash and glitter and sex, this is probably the film for you.
Number One (Loren Hardeman Sr.)
Loren Hardeman III
Tommy Lee Jones
Lady Bobby Ayres
Loren Hardeman Jr.
Angelo Luigi Perino