Masquerade (1988)

Masquerade (1988)

Taglines: An heiress. A setup. A murder.

Young yachting captain Tim Whalen (Rob Lowe) is having an affair with Brooke Morrison (Kim Cattrall), the wife of his boss, Granger Morrison (Brian Davies), in the upscale town of Southampton, Long Island. Tim is the new captain of Granger’s racing sailboat Obsession. Young heiress Olivia Lawrence (Meg Tilly), following the recent death of her mother, returns home to Southampton after graduating from college. At a party, Olivia is introduced to Tim, who asks her to dance. Impressed with her knowledge of sailing, Tim asks her to go sailing with him, and she accepts.

Olivia is living in the family mansion with her alcoholic stepfather, Tony Gateworth (John Glover), and his new live-in girlfriend, Anne Briscoe (Dana Delany). Her mother’s will provided that Gateworth retain access to the family’s eight properties. Olivia has nothing but contempt for her stepfather, who married her mother for her money. At her family attorney’s office in New York City, Olivia learns she cannot restrict Gateworth’s access to her homes, and the nearly one million dollars a year he receives from the estate barely covers his gambling debts.

Olivia and Tim go sailing on her boat Masquerade, which was her late father’s pride and joy. Later, at Olivia’s mansion, they are confronted by a drunk Gateworth who insults Tim, his former sailing competitor. In the coming days, Olivia and Tim begin dating and eventually fall in love. Olivia’s newfound happiness, however, is soon offset by another ugly confrontation with Gateworth who tells her as her “guardian” he wants Tim out of her life.

Masquerade (1988)

Olivia confides to her aunt that Tim is the first man she’s felt comfortable with and that he isn’t interested in her money. Later that day, at a lobster house on the outskirts of town, Gateworth and Tim meet surreptitiously to discuss their conspiracy to murder Olivia for her money. When Tim expresses doubts, Gateworth threatens to expose his past. He tells him the next step is to gain Olivia’s confidence by having Tim defend her against him.

That weekend, Olivia and Tim have passionate sex in the mansion. Afterwards, a drunken Gateworth breaks into Olivia’s room as planned, but Tim kills him with his own pistol. Believing they will be accused of murdering Gateworth, Olivia covers up Tim’s role in the killing by claiming she killed Gateworth in self-defense. Tim establishes an alibi with an unsuspecting Brooke by resetting her bedside clock. During the investigation, Officer Mike McGill (Doug Savant)—a childhood friend with a romantic interest in Olivia—finds evidence that Tim may have been involved in the killing, but he does not report it to his captain, presumably because of his feelings for Olivia.

Masquerade is a 1988 American romance mystery thriller film directed by Bob Swaim and starring Rob Lowe, Meg Tilly, Kim Cattrall, and Doug Savant. Written by Dick Wolf, the film is about a recently orphaned millionairess who falls in love with a young yacht racing captain who isn’t completely truthful with her about his past. The film was nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best (Mystery) Motion Picture in 1989.

Masquerade (1988) - Rob Lowe

Film Revieew for Masquerade

The girlish intrigue of Gothic romance mingles with the social sophistry of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” in the mushy, pokey “Masquerade.” With its wan heroine and its haughty Hamptons backdrop, this is Robin Leachiness dusted with Daphne du Maurier.

Meg Tilly has the central role of the recently orphaned heiress Olivia, a fragile girl gifted with the awkward grace of a shore-bound swan and the tentative charm of an Audrey Hepburn. She is a poor little rich girl whose late mother left her not only millions, but also a wicked stepfather. John Glover is out of control as this conniving faux pa, a drunk who makes scenes at garden parties and plots against his stepdaughter.

He flies into a rage when she takes up with the handsome yachtsman Tim, an ambitious Romeo played by the bland but beautiful Rob Lowe. Though she is warned off by Mike (Doug Savant), a Hamptons police officer who guards parties and has a crush on her, Olivia is determined to marry Tim. They both love yachting so. And she believes he is interested in her, not her millions. But what evil lurks behind that cover boy’s face?

Bob Swaim, director of the bang-up French thriller “La Balance,” meant this tangle of love and treachery as an ’80s film noir — and “Miami Vice” writer Dick Wolf actually penned a labored but workable plot. But face it, Lowe is no Bogart, no Cary Grant. And matinee idol or not, Lowe is no sexpot. That doesn’t stop the insensitive Swaim — who similarly humiliated Sigourney Weaver in “Half Moon Street” — from greasing the guy up for humid scenes with Tilly and Kim Cattrall, a cat as Brooke, the lusty wife of Lowe’s boss.

Lowe gets near a woman and he starts to sweat like a pig in a sauna. The moist Lothario gives Brooke a pair of black lace scanties for her birthday. “Shall I put them on?” she queries coyly. “I can’t bite them off if you don’t,” he says, attempting to leer. But he only looks like a Ken doll caught with his pants down. Tilly, on the other hand, is working so fiercely as the loving dupe that she manages to make their love scenes credible, though they certainly do look uncomfortable.

Swaim has a gym teacher’s sense of the erotic matched with a jackhammer’s flair for the subtleties of psychological artifice. For him, the score fills up the long, meaningful pauses, the world turns, the plot twists, Tim sweats. Oh, for the days when a kiss was just a kiss.

Masquerade Movie Poster (1988)

Masquerade (1988)

Directed by: Bob Swaim
Starring: Rob Lowe, Meg Tilly, Kim Cattrall, Doug Savant, John Glover, Dana Delany, Erik Holland, Brian Davies, Bernie McInerney, Maeve McGuire, Pirie MacDonald
Screenplay by: Dick Wolf
Production Design by: John Kasarda
Cinematography by: David Watkin
Film Editing by: Scott Conrad
Costume Design by: John Boxer
Set Decoration by: Steven J. Jordan
Art Direction by: Dan Davis
Music by: John Barry
Distributed by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists
Release Date: March 11, 1988