The President's Mistress (1978) starring Beau Bridges, Susan Blanchard, Joel Fabiani, Larry Hagman, Don Porter, Karen Grassle directed by John Llewellyn Moxey Movie Review

The President's Mistress (1978)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Beau Bridges in The President's Mistress (1978)

Murder of a Mistress

I'll be frank, the attraction to watch "The President's Mistress" came from the fact it features Larry Hagman, so the fact that Hagman is in a supporting role is a disappointment. But that is not the only disappointment because whilst this 70s made for TV thriller has a good basic idea the end result is a slow thriller which never truly gets you gripped. It has some good points and Beau Bridges is solid and likeable in the lead as the brother looking to uncover the truth over his sister's murder but maybe that is part of the reason as to why "The President's Mistress" lacks energy.

Returning to Washington with Margaret (Susan Blanchard) who he met on the plane, Ben Morton (Beau Bridges - Two-Minute Warning) spots his sister being driven around in a Government limo. What Ben doesn't know is that his sister Donna (Karen Grassle) has been having an affair with the President, something which not only the CSA know but also the KGB. When papers fall into the hands of the CSA which suggest that Donna is a Russian spy things get very messy ending up with her murder and Ben trying to use his connection and friendship with head of the Secret Service Ed Murphy (Larry Hagman - The Eagle Has Landed) to uncover the truth.

Larry Hagman in The President's Mistress (1978)

There is slow and then there is sloooooow and "The President's Mistress" is definitely the second one to the point that it feels laborious, in fact I have not known 83 minutes to feel as long as those I spent watching this. The trouble is not the basic idea of Ben trying to uncover the truth about his sister's murder but how it comes across especially with a first half which has to reiterate everything. I didn't keep track of the time but I reckon for almost the entire first hour what we got was Ben charming Margaret who he meets on the plane, Donna's secret affair with the President and the various agencies learning that Donna is a Russian spy. It goes over each element again and again, taking it's time to not go anywhere till eventually Donna is killed.

What that means is for the last 20 maybe 30 minutes we have Ben trying to get the truth on why his sister died. But it lacks energy and excitement to really get your gripped as those who know the truth get killed and Ben almost gets killed. There is a touch of mystery as to Margaret as well but even that is just weak padding which other than adding a nice romantic angle to the story does little else. But here is the big problem, as a watched we know too much, we know what happened to Donna, we know what happened to those directly connected and in the end the only mystery is whether or not she really is a Russian spy or not.

Now in a way Beau Bridges as Ben delivers a nice performance, he is likeable and quite sweet when it comes to chatting up Margaret but when it comes to the action side of things he is not exactly dynamic. It is part of the reason why "The President's Mistress" never springs into life but then all the cast seem restrained in dull characters especially Larry Hagman who in the same year this was released would grace are screens as J.R. Ewing for the first time.

What this all boils down to is that the basic idea to "The President's Mistress" is a decent one but the finished result isn't and it is not only slow but not exciting enough.