The Man Upstairs
Director: George Schaefer. Cast: Katharine Hepburn, Ryan O'Neal, Brenda Forbes, Helena Carroll, Henry Beckman, Lawrence King-Phillips. Screenplay: James Prideaux.

An insufferably coy little holiday fable about a dotty old dame who's lived a long, quiet life, up until the moment when a convict played by Ryan O'Neal arrives on her doorstep seeking refuge from the law. The plot of this little contraption vanishes from memory almost as soon as the movie ends, or even earlier, and in fact none of the people on camera seem to be thinking about anything except what an undeserved coup they've managed in getting Katharine Hepburn to play the part of the fugitive harborer. Strangely, The Man Upstairs is both directed and written by the same men (George Schaefer and James Prideaux, respectively) who collaborated on two other TV-movie projects in which Hepburn had appeared in the previous six years, Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry (1986) and Laura Lansing Slept Here (1988); a serviceable but unremarkable character actress named Brenda Forbes also made a supporting appearance in each of the projects. Such remarkable coincidences can only mean one of two things: a) ties of family somehow connect these four people, and Hepburn uses her clout to mount their co-productions as a fun activity between friends, or b) Schaefer, Prideaux, and/or Forbes have some unspeakable blackmail information on the Great Kate that requires her to appear in their tepid and barely-realized pictures. Amazing how movies that try so hard to be endearing can turn your mood so sour. Grade: D–

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