Director Simon Wincer’s second feature is a downright odd attempt to update the story of Rasputin to 1980s Australia.
Trading on the piercing eyes that made him so effective in Jesus of Nazareth, Robert Powell plays Gregory Wolfe – a charismatic and mysterious drifter and healer who convinces rising Senator Nick Rast (David Hemmings) and his distant wife, Sandra (Carmen Duncan) that he can cure their terminally ill son Timothy (Mark Spain) of his leukaemia.
Wolfe – who first appears dressed as a clown at Timothy’s birthday party – does cure the boy and is invited to live at the Rast’s home, where he becomes close to Sandra and Timothy.
Political kingmaker Doc Wheelan (Broderick Crawford) is grooming Nick to become Deputy Governor and is suspicious of Wolfe, who has become a celebrity among the city’s high society.
Wrongfully arrested for an attack on the Rast’s maid, Alice (Alyson Best), Wolfe escapes custody and returns to the Rast mansion.
This is typical of the kind of curio that Hemmings opted for as his once-glittering career went into a steep decline, and Wincer piles on the mystery without really developing the story.
Harlequin was the first major film made in the West Australian capital of Perth for over 20 years, and the mansion of local millionaire Alan Bond was used as the exterior for the Rast home.
Senator Nick Rast
Miss Edith Twist