Mrs. Winterbourne Recap

Jamie

Connie Doyle is down on her luck and pregnant. As if things couldn’t get worse she gets in a train accident and is mistaken for the wife of a prodigal son of a wealthy family. Taken in by the eccentric mother and grumpy identical twin brother, she’s in quite the pickle. Can she set things straight (and also maybe get the guy) before it’s too late? Find out in Mrs. Winterbourne.

How?! Connie Doyle comes from a troubled background. At a young age she runs off to NYC and finds herself pregnant. The father, Steve, is a con man asshole and so wandering alone around the city she finds herself mistakenly on a train to Boston. A nice man named Hugh helps her and while palling around with his similarly pregnant wife they get in a terrible train accident. Connie wakes up in the hospital having been mistaken as the wife of Hugh Winterbourne, the prodigal son of an intensely wealthy New England family. While she tries to escape the Winterbourne’s and set things straight, she is also amazed at the wealth and comfort they live in as they pamper the new “Mrs. Winterbourne” and the new grandson. Hugh’s mother, Grace, is particularly taken with the pair, while his identical twin brother Bill is suspicious and cold. Connie is different from the typical Winterbourne ilk and Grace kinda digs it, so she forces Bill to spend time with her. This is wildly (almost unbelievably) successful as Bill falls in love with Connie after spending approximately two hours with her. At the same time he discovers her dark secret and the guilt weighs heavily on him. Connie attempts to leave several more times until Bill makes it clear that their hours together have been the happiest of his life and that he wants to marry her. Through the publicity of the wedding, Steve tracks down Connie and attempts to blackmail her. Distraught, she decides to kill him, but in a truly farcical manner both she and Bill converge on Steve’s hotel room to discover he’s dead. At the wedding the police show up and more farcical things happen, but ultimately it’s made clear that Steve’s new girlfriend was the killer. Having resolved that, Bill and Connie get married and wink at the screen to prepare us for the sequel Meet the Doyles. THE END.

Why?! It’s quite the farce as no matter how hard Connie tries she can’t seem to make it clear that she’s not part of the Winterbourne family. The reason is made pretty clear. While she wants to be truthful, she also wants what’s best for her son (which is wealth and privilege). What is a mother to do? Probably the weirdest motivation is Bill, who seems sullen and distant until he spends a single day with Connie after which it’s love and marriage. Why? I actually don’t know.

Who?! There is an amusing scene where the father of Connie’s baby is watching TV and is laughing at Bobcat Goldthwait and he is being predictably weird in his standup and Steve is laughing at it and I think the point is character development to be like “he’s the kind of guy who laughs at Bobcat” and I kinda love it. Bobcat of course goes uncredited. Connie’s nurse after the accident is played by Paula Prentiss who was a prominent actress who hadn’t made a film in 15 years and her performance is predictably weird… and uncredited.

What?! I’m sure there were some weird semi-50’s props from this film that found their way to a Toronto area dumpster. The only thing that stuck in my mind a bit was the Winterbourne ring representing a special type of prop… one that holds some kind of power over Connie’s transformation in Mrs. Winterbourne. But really it’s just because it’s what seals a connection to the film Two Much which is startlingly similar to this film and yet we decided to watch it next week for some reason. Maybe to enjoy Jeff Fahey having sex on a motorcycle for this week.

Where?! Really fabulous Massachusetts film. We know Connie is heading MA way on the the train and then she is delivered to the Massachusetts manor of the Winterbournes. This would just be OK, but they add in a Tour de Boston in the middle of the film where Connie and Bill walk by Paul Revere’s home and through Boston Common not once but twice. That deserves at least a B+.

When?! I don’t know when this takes place. My guess is Spring and that Connie and Bill rush to a Spring wedding, but hard to say. The film doesn’t really take all that much time really because, as I mentioned, Bill falls in love with Connie in a matter of days and insists on getting married in just a couple weeks… even though this is apparently the widow of his estranged identical twin brother who just gave birth to his nephew. It’s all very bizarre. Would have made more sense if the film took place over a much longer time period while Connie recovered from being in a terrible train accident.

This is certainly a film. It has charm at times, but suffers a little bit with a lead that is a little overmatched by Shirley MacLaine and Brendan Fraser. It also has one of those weird production design choices that makes most of the film feel like it’s set in the 1950’s, while whenever they venture away from Winterbourne manor you realize that it’s the present day. Overall I think I would have said this was just a meh film except that I actually did like the character of Paco. A gay Cuban who was persecuted by his government, he found a place in Mrs. Winterbourne’s household and knows that no matter what problems Connie has she will be accepted there. It’s very sweet and so I’d say this is slightly better than nothing. As for Woman of Desire, phew… hose me down. Jeff Fahey having sex on a motorcycle. Uh yeah, yes please. Yes for sure. You’re saying The Lawnmower man is having sex on a motorcycle? Yah. Add in some truly humorous 90’s concepts of DNA technology in regards to identical twins and I very much enjoyed Woman of Desire. Did I mention Jeff Fahey has sex on a motorcycle? Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Somehow we keep on watching films which would have been pitch perfect for the US Mapl.d.map. First Urban Legend for New Hampshire, and now Mrs. Winterbourne for Massachusetts. We’re on a tour of New England! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I had literally never heard of this film prior to building this twin cycle. It looks like … Change of Seasons? A film that was made. It exists. It has a really famous cast. But it seems impossible anyone actually watched the film at the time. I know that’s wrong because this style of rom com was huge, so obviously there had to be bad versions that were released. You just rarely hear of them I guess. What were my expectations? To be bored. There aren’t many reasons a film like this is slammed by critics, the most common reason is because it is boring.

The Good – Shirley MacLaine and Brendan Fraser are both quite good, especially MacLaine. I also really liked Miguel Sandoval’s storyline as Paco, the Winterbourne’s valet. Great Massachusetts film. And finally, the film is more interesting than I would have immediately given it credit for, it is not nearly as boring as you would expect. If not for a really weak leading actress I think this would have been well received based on MacLaine’s performance specifically. Best Bit: MacLaine.

The Bad – Ricki Lake is so bad in the lead role that it completely sinks the film, it is only saved a tiny bit by how genuine the romance that anchors the plot feels, and I think if the story was better Lake’s performance could be forgiven. The main issue is the storyline is just a huge downer. You bookend the film with two lovely and generous people tragically dying in a train wreck, and a murder of a dirtbag blackmailer. Everything in between is poisoned by just how depressing the core of the story is. Unfortunately there isn’t much to be done, it isn’t quite so easy to just put everyone in comas and call it a day, and I suppose all of this comes from the book. Fatal Flaw: Downer story.

The BMT – Slightly higher that you would think. It is definitely one of the better Big Wedding type garbage rom coms I’ve seen. If someone wanted to watch Mrs. Winterbourne I wouldn’t flat out refuse like with a lot of other films. But the BMT cred is mostly just as a twin film as usual with this cycle. Did it meet my expectations? It exceeded them by not merely being a boring mess of a film. The fact that there were some truly heartfelt moments, and a whole lotta weird choices made it at least a bit interesting to watch, even if it isn’t a particularly good-bad film.

Roast-radamus – A fantastic Setting as a Character (Where?) for Massachusetts and Boston in particular complete with a walk along the Freedom Trail. And throw out the Worst Twist (How?) for the incredibly obvious twist that Steve’s new pregnant girlfriend murdered him. So obvious in fact that they literally show the woman leaving the motel in the scene before. I think this is closest to Bad … although I could be convinced this is actually a good movie if you ignore Ricki Lake’s performance.

StreetCreditReport.com – I actually did find a blog / old website list from 1996 with Mrs. Winterbourne on it which is kind of amazing. Otherwise I think you throw this on a top 10 worst films set in Boston list. I imagine it could make a list for the worst mistaken identity films. Almost all of its credit, as is usual, is because the film is a twin film, and we love twin films.

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we curled up with our old friend Jeff Fahey for what I would consider a rare instant classic for BMT Bring a Friend, Woman of Desire. In the end it shouldn’t be too surprising that most of the friends we watch aren’t actually particularly fun to watch, they are mostly just amusing disasters. This film from a zoomed out perspective is no different, messy, weirdly almost set in South Africa, and kind of dull. But then you get not one, but two Jeff Fahey / Bo Derek sex scenes one of which (wait for it) is performed on a motorcycle parked in Jeff Fahey’s living room. Wait a tick, that can’t be right … but oh, it is so so right. I will remember this film for one thing and one thing alone: Jeff Fahey and Bo Derek have sex upon a motorcycle sitting in Jeff Fahey’s living room. You can’t ever take that away from me. A. I don’t care what anyone else thinks, I would watch that entire film again just for that sex scene. I only wish Jeff Fahey played smooth jazz on a saxophone afterwards. Maybe that’s in the director’s cut.

Twin Analysis – In this case our two movies have the connection that one of the twins is deceased for the vast majority of the film. In the case of Mrs. Winterbourne we have Brendan Fraser playing Bill and Hugh Winterbourne which fall into the Opposite Twin trope with Bill being a straightlaced businessman, and Hugh clearly dressed as a kind of Bohemian hipster type. No split screen, but the fact that they are twins is a huge part of the story, so I’m going to give it a solid A-. Just wish we could have seen Brendan Fraser act opposite of Brendan Fraser. As for our friend Woman of Desire we again have the Opposite Twin trope with Steven Bauer playing Jonathan and Ted, where the eeeeeevil twin has murdered his own brother with the help of his brother’s lover Bo Derek. The twin energy is real here, and incredibly important. As the defense attorney says at the end “the government overlooked one little known fact: twins have the same DNA.” Wait … they did what?! Is that a little known fact? I guess in 1994 you might have to explain to a jury that indeed, the two people who look identical have the same DNA, but that sounds like a screenwriter thinking he’s about ten times more clever than he actually is. I wish Jeff Fahey was the twin though, Bauer actually wasn’t really in the movie as much as you would think. B+, great twin energy, but in a supporting role.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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