You should be thanking me for this, I’ve watched James Toback’s Love and Money (1982) three times, so you don’t have to. If you’ve seen it already, you have my sympathy. If you’ve not – take my word for it, you do NOT need to see it at all. Remember how I was mean about Ulli Lommel’s Revenge of the Stolen Stars (1986)? I take it all back, Revenge of the Stolen Stars is a quality film when compared to Love and Money.
I had high hopes for Love and Money, somehow I imagined it could be one of those good-bad films; a bit trashy but enjoyable. I was wrong. I was foolish enough to believe the summary on the WB Archive Collection DVD cover:
“Byron Levin (Ray Sharkey) has two sides. One is Byron the workaday L.A. banker quick to defend a harassed co-worker. The other is a pent-up employee who’ll say something outrageous to a stranger for shock effect. Increasingly, Byron’s risk-taking nature takes hold. And it becomes a stranglehold when Byron is seduced by the deadly allure of Love and Money in this tantalizing thriller from James Toback (The Pick-up Artist, Bugsy). Byron accepts a million-dollar deal with a global silver magnate (Klaus Kinski). His reason says no but his passions say yes: he’s begun an illicit affair with the tycoon’s exotic wife (Ornella Muti). In return, he must persuade a former college roommate, now a Latin American strongman (Armand Assante), to stop nationalizing the silver mines. And if words fail him, bullets will do.”
Don’t believe a word of it. I imagined that Byron Levin was going to be a torn man and that he would be fighting with his moral sense. He doesn’t have two sides at all though, he is just a very self-absorbed man who comes out with puerile comments and behaves in a vile way most of the time. A lot of the time I was cringing through the film because the dialogue was absolutely stinking awful. And I had to watch the bugger three times!
I decided to do this little photo story of the film before doing my usual all-out full story and background info type review, just because I wanted to make it fun. You’ll have to indulge me a little; I’m suffering from repeated Love and Money viewings and even the sight of Klaus looking all business-like and dapper is not enough to take the pain away. Please don’t make me watch it again; I promise to be a good girl from now on…
NB This is my re-working of the story with photos but even if it’s not the full story as it was intended, at least it will be more true to the film than the DVD summary was!
A guy called Blair makes a call from the ‘phone booth outside the California American Bank – he’s trying to get hold of Byron Levin on behalf of Frederic Stockheinz who runs a company called Trans Allied Silver, but Byron’s not available
Byron arrives at work and Blair calls back and tells him Stockheinz wants to see him at the Bonaventure Hotel
Stockheinz calls his wife Catherine
Then he calls reception
Then an anonymous business colleague calls him
Then he calls reception again – that’s 4 ‘phone calls in less than one minute…
Then Blair calls Stockheinz to give him an update
In the meantime, Byron has left because he’s not interested in Stockheinz’ offer of $1M for a weekend’s work. Stockheinz tells him: “If you change your mind, call me.” I doubt he’d be able to get through as the line is always busy. Klaus must have been told to use Tony Roberts’ role in Play It Again Sam for inspiration when getting into character.
Outside Byron meets Catherine Stockheinz and falls immediately in love and, being the romantic type, tells her: “If you ever touch [Stockheinz] again, or any other man, I’ll kill ya.” It’s a strange thing to say to someone you’ve just met but she seems to like it.
Back at home, Byron’s girlfriend Vicky (no surname, just a lot of books) tells him: “I got 6 great books today.” She’s making a book shelf.
A guy called Bob calls to speak to Vicky. Byron answers and gets a bit jealous about the Bob guy, but then he discovers it’s just about books. That’s alright then…
Byron fantasises about Catherine Stockheinz. Byron’s fantasy version of Catherine obviously thinks it’s sexy to stick her tongue out a bit when she’s “doing it”
Catherine calls Byron – she wants to know: “How often do you say to women what you said to me?” It’s a good question. He says never and they arrange to meet at a bar called Casey’s, so Byron has to put on an ugly track suit cos presumably he is pretending to go for a run
He arrives at Casey’s, scans the room, acts in a bizarre manner in general and comes to the conclusion that Catherine is not there – he gives her all of ten seconds before he calls her at the Bonaventure Hotel (he knows the number and her room number off by heart, of course). He gets through but when she realises it is him on the line, she hangs up
Byron calls the Bonaventure Hotel again and says he thinks he was cut off but the receptionist tells him that Catherine has requested a “do not disturb” on the line.
The next day, when Byron gets home from work Vicky is shelving books again…
The ‘phone rings in the off-screen space and Byron leaves Vicky to her book shelving to answer the call. We don’t see or hear the call but we know by Byron’s behaviour that it was probably Catherine because when he’s asked who was on the ‘phone he says: “Nobody. Ah, I’m gonna go for a drive.” Where? “I don’t know.” Likely story.
Byron sees Frederic Stockheinz leave as he arrives at the Bonaventure Hotel, so he knows the coast is clear. I think Frederic is using the car ‘phone as he drives away, but I couldn’t swear to it…
Byron storms into Catherine’s room, pushes her down onto the settee and manhandles her a bit. She’s not best pleased, but she goes for a drive with him. He talks lots of crazy talk. Quite frankly it’s embarrassing: “…it’s just that when I saw you, I knew… that God had put his elbow in my ribs…” Catherine tries to get out of the car – maybe she wants to be sick too. But she’s foolish enough to get back into the car and they head off somewhere together and then we get a two-for-one ‘phone call scene:
Presumably Byron is calling Vicky and Catherine is calling Frederic. Making their excuses.
Then they drive to Marina Del Rey Hotel and we get the first of many scenes where Catherine faces the camera to make a speech instead of facing Byron. She tells him how she met Stockheinz.
They fall out – don’t ask, they just have that kind of relationship is all – and she storms off outside. Byron follows her into the car park and they have an incredibly long shot with the camera circling them as they snog.
Back inside Byron tells Catherine he “can’t get a hard-on… Five minutes ago outside, I had a hard-on I coulda hung a towel on it…” She recites the Star Spangled Banner and then he sings it as she heads southwards. I’m EMBARRASSED!
Byron is surveying Catherine’s “bits” under the bed covers and he’s telling her how much he likes them when she does that “sexy” licking thing again:
Meanwhile, Blair is outside in the car park making a call and he does this really great little gesture, wiping the receiver on his sleeve before using it (it’s a public ‘phone, see?)
Meanwhile, back in the hotel room Byron and Catherine are still “at it” and she does that “sexy” tongue thing again:
Then Byron decides to show Catherine how talented he is. Unfortunately he decides to do some impersonations for her and that’s really not his forte, so she gets offended again. Yet another fall out and some bad make-up sex. It’s not a healthy relationship, this.
Next thing you know, it’s morning and Byron is rooting through Catherine’s handbag and finds a photograph. She catches him looking at it and gets angry. It’s her dad. Cue yet another scene where she tells her story to camera instead of directly to Byron:
Catherine says she found her dad when he hanged himself: “His penis was sticking out and his feet were blue.” Shame, Byron will never get to meet him now…
When Byron wakes up the next day, Catherine has gone so he finally decides he ought to go to work. He calls the Bonaventure Hotel but he gets Frederic rather than Catherine so he hangs up
Byron is fired at work so he decides it’s finally time to go home and face Vicky and the books
Byron asks Vicky what’s wrong – a bit of a daft question when he has been away for days with no word, no explanation, no apology. And now he’s rocked up at home and he shares the news that he’s been fired.
Byron and Vicky go to bed – Byron can’t sleep because he’s fantasising about Catherine again. Vicky, however, is sleeping with a book in her arms:
Byron gets up and calls Frederic Stockheinz to let him know he’s changed his mind and wants to work for him. Byron doesn’t bother telling Vicky what he’s doing but he disturbs her when he’s packing because he accidentally knocks over one of her many piles of books.
Vicky busts out crying – not because Byron is leaving, o no. She’s upset because Byron knocked over one of her books and broke the binding on it. That is more upsetting so it’s understandable really.
When Byron arrives on the Trans Allied Silver plane, Frederic is on the ‘phone to someone.
He’s clearly on a roll with this scene as he’s immediately on the ‘phone to the pilot to tell him: “Let’s go!”
And then he’s on the ‘phone to one of his staff to tell them to get Byron some champagne and shrimp.
Byron is mightily keen to get to speak with Catherine but Frederic has eyes like a hawk so he has to wait until he is asleep before he can sneak over to chat with her. This gives Catherine another opportunity to address her speech to the camera again:
Then Frederic wakes up and makes Catherine give him a massage in front of Byron. Frederic speaks to Catherine in Italian, so we don’t know what he’s saying but it’s obvious he’s being naughty. Byron is livid.
Finally they arrive in Costa Salva, where Byron’s university room-mate Lorenzo is now president. It could happen…
Byron and Catherine go to a youth centre with Lorenzo and there is something that looks like a rally taking place – people are bouncing up and down and shaking their fists. Byron and Catherine look uncomfortable.
Catherine and Frederic can be seen through a window – he is fastening his trousers – and they appear to be falling out a bit. Maybe he can’t hang a towel off his hard-on at the moment either.
Lorenzo tells Byron he’s not going to get paid $1M to convince him to go along with Stockheinz’ business deals; Lorenzo thinks Stockheinz wants Byron to kill him for the $1M. Byron says something embarrassing in a stupid voice and accent and then Lorenzo makes matters worse by singing a terrible dirge-like song he claims to have written and wants to be the new national anthem for Costa Salva. He won’t last long as President if the anthem is anything to go by. Lorenzo asks Byron if he likes it but he says he prefers The Star Spangled Banner. I wonder why and then I remember the hard-on / towel incident and I suddenly get it. Very funny.
Lorenzo sees a stereotypical girl and lusts after her – what’s so stereotypical? She’s wearing an off-the-shoulder white blouse and a peasant skirt; she’s barefoot; she’s carrying a basket; she’s swinging her hips. All she needs to do now is sing Hasta Siempre. Ah! Lorenzo’s doing that. What a mistake! It’s so bad that Byron is throwing rocks at him. I would too.
Byron goes back to find Catherine, but he’s obviously thinking about what Lorenzo says as he stops at the market place to use the telephone. He’s seen Blair talking to one of Lorenzo’s men and thinks that maybe Blair is trying to get Lorenzo’s guy on his side to help him kill Lorenzo. Lorenzo tells Byron not to worry about it. Silly old Byron doesn’t realise what Lorenzo is saying to him.
Byron heads off to see Catherine but he’s upset that she’s not so pleased to see him. She just wants to know if he has done the job Stockheinz asked him to do. They have another one of those scenes where she faces the camera to speak:
“Don’t you see?” Byron says, “…this is what what we were made for… obsession… ecstasy… love…” Bleurk!
Then it’s time for dinner with the President – that’s Lorenzo to you and me – but he’s 90 minutes late and Frederic is VERY annoyed. So annoyed that one by one he offends pretty much everyone at the table by shouting at them. When Lorenzo finally turns up he tells a crappy story, which people laugh at presumably out of politeness. Frederic snaps, “What is so funny?” Yeah, Lorenzo, what is so funny?!!
Lorenzo and Frederic tussle a bit and then Frederic announces they are leaving – he sends Catherine off to pack. Like the lovesick puppy dog that he is Byron follows to speak with Catherine, so she does that speaking to the camera thing again for one last time:
Then everything happens very quickly. Frederic catches Byron and Catherine sharing a look in the car and orders Blair to “Get rid of him.” Blair pulls out his gun but instead of pointing it at Byron, he points it at Frederic. That’s right, Lorenzo’s man had convinced Blair to kill Frederic. But for some unknown reason Byron leaps into action and knocks the gun out of Blair’s hands, effectively saving his mistress’ husband’s life. I guess he wasn’t thinking…
A fight ensues between Blair and Byron – Blair kicks Byron in the nuts and Frederic grabs the gun and shoots Blair about 5 or 6 times. He returns Byron’s favour by leaving him in the street next to Blair’s lifeless body and the gun. Byron is arrested and thrown into jail. There are 5 of them in jail. One guy is trying to take a crap, Byron and another guy are holding their heads in their hands and the 2 other guys are shouting at the guards.
Then they’re all bound and blind-folded and taken away in a truck. The other 4 guys are shot by Lorenzo’s men but Lorenzo lets Byron go. For old time’s sake, probably. Maybe he let him borrow his milk when they were room-mates or something and he feels he owes him. I dunno.
Somehow Byron gets back to the US and, you guessed it, he gets on the ‘phone straight away to the Bonaventure Hotel:
There’s no response from the Stockheinz’ suite so he goes home. Vicky is sorting her books out again:
Vicky asks Byron what happened to his face – he says he cut himself shaving. What an idiot. He takes a nap and when he wakes up Vicky and her books have all gone and left him. So he gets the rest of his stuff and prepares to move out of the house. As he packs the last bag in his car, he hears a voice talking to him. It’s Catherine asking where he is going. She wants to go with him. “Tell me the truth, do you think we have any chance of lasting together?” No, Catherine says. Neither does Byron. Neither do I. What a ridiculous story and what a ridiculous ending. That is all.
I’ll write the proper review up shortly – if I can be bothered!