The Betsy is a 1978 film made by the Harold Robbins International Company and released by Allied Artists and United Artists. It was directed by Daniel Petrie and produced by Robert R. Weston and Emanuel L. Wolf with Jack Grossberg as associate producer. The screenplay was by William Bast and Walter Bernstein, adapted from the novel of the same title by Harold Robbins.
The novelist considered The Betsy as the "best movie adaptation of any of his works."
A fading family-owned automobile manufacturer and its owners pin their hopes for a return to profitability on a new model named for the great-granddaughter of the firm's founder.
The aging Loren Hardeman Sr. remains the titular head of a Detroit automotive conglomerate. (An obvious parallel exists between this fictional character and that of Henry Ford.) His grandson, Loren Hardeman III, now runs the company as president, but has diversified into other fields and is concerned that the auto division is not as lucrative as it once was and might even need to be eliminated.
A young auto racer, Angelo Perino, has been secretly commissioned to develop a ground-breaking fuel-efficient car. He juggles romantic relationships with a British royal, Lady Bobby Ayres, and the young Betsy, who is about to turn 21 and inherit a fortune, including the new car her great-grandfather is naming in her honor.
Loren Hardeman III bitterly despises Hardeman Sr., who once carried on an affair with Loren's mother. The older Hardeman is not the man he used to be, but neither is he ready to step aside forever.
- Laurence Olivier as Loren Hardeman Sr.
- Tommy Lee Jones as Angelo Perino
- Robert Duvall as Loren Hardemann III
- Katharine Ross as Sally Hardeman
- Jane Alexander as Alicia Hardeman
- Lesley-Anne Down as Lady Ayres
- Kathleen Beller as Betsy
- Joseph Wiseman as Jake Weinstein
- Edward Herrmann as Dan Weyman
- Charlie Fields as young Loren Hardeman III
Assembly-plant footage was filmed at the American Motors (AMC) Kenosha, Wisconsin factory. It shows 1978 Gremlin, Pacer, and Concord models being built and painted on AMC's assembly line serving as the factory of the fictitious Bethlehem Motors. For authenticity, the movie producers had queried AMC on how a new car is developed.
Review by an automobile industry expert noted that filmmakers have not shown believable characters and realistic dialogue. Attempts by Hollywood to capture the auto industry on film, such as The Betsy, have "aimed at realistic drama but wound up with suds."
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