AN INTIMATE WASHINGTON AFFAIR
During the Eighties, I caught on VHS a movie called The Washington Affair directed by Victor Stoloff. It was produced in 1977 but never released theatrically. No surprise there as it was filmed entirely in just two rooms. It is a remake of Stolofff’s earlier movie Intimacy (1966). Barry Sullivan is an unscrupulous, despicable businessman desperate to win a government contract to save his company. He has a hidden camera installed in the hotel room of the government contractor (Tom Selleck before he hit it big on Magnum, P.I.), unhappily married to a booze hound (Arlene Banas) who shows up unexpectedly, to spy on him and to get some good blackmail material. Sullivan sits in the office and watches the film of the day’s events unspool on a movie screen. The hooker he sends in strikes out, but Sullivan is shocked to discover his glamorous spoiled wife (Carol Lynley looking simply gorgeous in fur) does not. The cheating spouses have been having an affair for weeks. Sullivan suffers a fatal heart attack and is discovered by Lynley fresh from a tryst with Selleck. She sits there and watches the end of the film as Selleck decides to return home with the tearful lush. He phones Lynley and asks her maid to let her know that her husband will be getting the contract and she can now buy her Ferrari.
TCM just aired Intimacy this week and I was shocked that The Washington Affair was an almost scene-by-scene remake without many changes except for the cast less Barry Sullivan who played the same role in each. Here studly Jack Ging, who plays it more overwrought that Selleck, is the conflicted agent and former Elvis leading lady Joan Blackman is the cheating wife. Singer Jackie DeShannon, of all people, shows up as the chatty hooker and Nancy Malone is the souse.
Both movies are claustrophobic, but both of them drew me in with their voyeurism plots which I found intriguing. Sullivan watches himself come and go at Ging/Selleck’s hotel room during the course of an afternoon. Each time the agent is about to finally leave his room something like a phone call or a knock at the door keeps him there. While the Selleck/Lynley love scene was conventional for the mid-1970s, the Ging/Blackman tryst is quite daring for the time. Too bad hardly anybody saw it.
I would not describe each move as good since they both have dull moments and all the action taking place basically in one hotel room becomes tiresome, but I could not stop watching as the actors and the story kept me interested as I wanted Ging/Selleck to choose Blackman/Lynley over the pitiful unsympathetic Malone/Banas.