Liz and Merry Noel become friends as college roommates and their friendship endures over the years. Liz becomes a respected “serious” novelist. Merry Noel marries, has a daughter and writes, too: “trash” fiction which becomes enormously successful. Their story begins in college and jumps ahead some years at a time to show their relationship with each other and those in their orbits as they grow and mature.
Rich and Famous is a 1981 American drama film directed by George Cukor, the final film of his long career. The screenplay by Gerald Ayres is based on the 1941 play Old Acquaintance by John Van Druten, which was filmed with Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins in 1943 under its original title.
About the Story
Two women find their friendship is tested when one rises from obscurity to success while the other stagnates in a stalled career. Liz Hamilton, a young woman with literary ambitions, and Merry Noel Blake, an all-American blond beauty from Atlanta, are close friends who met while they were freshmen at Smith College in the 1950s.
Soon after graduation, Liz writes a critically acclaimed book and drifts into unfulfilling relationships and one-night stands, including an empty encounter in an airplane lavatory, a fling with a teenaged hustler and an affair with Chris Adams, a young reporter for Rolling Stone. Meanwhile, Merry fulfills her aspiration to a life of domesticity caring for a husband and child by marrying Doug Blake and moving to a beach house in Malibu.
Although Merry is happy, she can’t help but envy Liz for her glamorous career as an author. Merry decides to write a book of her own and, with Liz’s assistance, A House by the Sea, a trashy roman à clef about the Malibu colony, finds a publisher and becomes a huge best-seller. Before long Merry is a darling of the media and her fame and fortune surpass those of Liz (who is experiencing a severe case of writer’s block), leading to jealousy between the old friends and problems in Merry’s marriage.
Rich and Famous (1981)
Directed by: George Cukor
Starring: Jacqueline Bisset, Candice Bergen, David Selby, Hart Bochner, Steven Hill, Meg Ryan, Matt Lattanzi, Nicole Eggert, Daniel Faraldo
Screenplay by: Gerald Ayres
Production Design by: Jan Scott
Cinematography by: Donald Peterman
Film Editing by: John F. Burnett
Costume Design by: Theoni V. Aldredge
Set Decoration by: Donald J. Remacle
Art Direction by: Fred Harpman
Music by: Georges Delerue
Distributed by: United Artists
Release Date: September 23, 1981