Dr. Lauren Slaughter (Sigourney Weaver) is an attractive, smart, stylish Yank living in London. She
has a PhD. from Harvard, spent 3 years in China and speaks several languages. She writes and lectures at the hoity-toity Middle Eastern Institute. Any time left over is devoted to jogging and working out.
Sound like a nice life? Ha! Dr. Slaughter only makes 150 pounds a week. Home is a cramped "bed-sitter" where the hot water comes and goes and the landlord is poky about making needed home repairs.
So what's a gal to do? Lauren needs more money and decides to take a second job. With her fancy pants credentials, what do you think Dr. S does on the side? Tutor? Translate? Teach aerobics?
Would you believe... hooking?
See, Lauren is sent a video from "The Jasmine Escort Agency", which extols the wonderful opportunities available to gals who work as "paid escorts".
Now, so we are all on the same page here, paid escorts ARE NOT HOOKERS! Hookers are cheap, lowly, disease-ridden wretches who sell their bodies for cash and are beholden to their nasty, nasty pimps.
ESCORTS, on the other hand, are attractive, healthy, intelligent professionals who accept "screened dates" from "gentlemen" and are not always expected to, you know, "put out".
Sufficiently intrigued, Weaver signs on with the agency and begins going out on "dates"--and thus begins "Half-Moon Street"(1986), a would-be "romantic thriller" where sophisticated swells parry and thrust about politics and morals while the average viewer tries to keep track of who's screwing who.
Nice Work If You Can Get It...
OK, so Dr. Slaughter begins going out on "dates" as an "escort". However, she's not your typical trick. She refuses to tart herself up for her "clients", for example. She doesn't ditch her smart-chick glasses, either. If her "date" is a jerk or a bore, she tells him. If she doesn't want to sleep with the guy, she doesn't. When Lauren over-hears one "date" bragging in Japanese about how much her sexual favors cost, she imperiously informs the startled chap that she's "not on the menu" this evening and, furthermore, there will be no sex, either.
Dr. Slaughter speaks Japanese, you see.
Anything else? Oh, yes, she's totally vegan and charges double for smokers.
Surprisingly, Lauren's unusual approach to her side job does not irritate her agency or her "dates". In fact, it makes her wildly popular and soon she's rolling in cash.
Then one enchanted evening the Jasmine Agency sends her to the home of Lord Bulbeck (Michael Caine, with a '70's porn 'stache). He's a rich, widowed, lonely anti-terrorist expert who has a thing for "hired help". They chat about China and other serious matters and then hit the sheets. When Lauren later asks his lordship why he's into escorts, he replies that, with his busy schedule, he just doesn't have time for "courtship rituals" and prefers to cut to the chase.
This rationale strikes a cord with Weaver, because she, too, prefers "uncomplicated sex." When Caine wonders if Sigourney's side job is a bit risky, she shrugs it off by quipping, "I have a gynecologist who knows karate."
Once introduced, Weaver and Caine fall into a pattern of meeting, having sex, arguing, breaking up, not speaking to each other, reconciling and then hitting the hay again. This gets rather tiring, but, hey, relationships are complicated, even "uncomplicated" ones, right?
Somebody's Watching Me...
Meanwhile, the subplot of "Half-Moon Street" concerns Caine trying to organize a top secret meeting between meeting between Israeli and Palestinian officials. This often interferes with his "dates" with Sigourney and, naturally, she becomes madder than a hen with wet feathers when Caine keeps standing her up. When one assignation in Switzerland falls through, Weaver hooks up with a hunky Frenchman named Sonny (Vincent Lindon) whom she meet playing squash (or racquetball).
"I know! 'Something came up'!" Lauren snaps when her titled cuddlemate tries to explain. "Same here. I got laid. It was fantastic!"
Now, remember that Lord Bulbeck is a government official and anti-terrorism expert and involved in top secret negotiations? Well, on top of that, he also appears to be under secret surveillance--as is Lauren. Who is spying on them--and why--is never reveled, but they are up to something, you mark my words.
Eventually Caine and Weaver patch things up for the billionth time and his lordship agrees to visit Lauren's swanky new digs to celebrate his birthday. She even makes him a birthday cake, which you can bet is low-fat, low-salt and low-carb, as well as wheat and gluten-free.
Then her door bell rings. It's Sonny the sexy Frenchman! He's bearing a big bouquet of flowers--and a mean right hook. After he roughs Lauren up, Sonny smashes all her phones and brandishes a gun. Turns out he's a hit-man and he plans on snuffing both Caine and Weaver!
However, smart cookie Sigourney double crosses Sonny and manages to kill him. Then a trusted character suddenly arrives, flashes a gun and reveals that he's (gasp!) a hit man, too! See, another trusted character thought Caine and Weaver would fancy each other. Knowing she was hard up for cash (and game for anything), they purposefully sent Lauren up with the Jasmine Agency! She was then purposefully sent on "dates" with Lord Bulbeck! Poor Lauren was used to purposefully bait a trap for his lordship!
Don't you hate it when that happens? I mean, how rude!
What's more, this trusted character goes on to explain that she and Caine will be offed to fit the pre-written tabloid headline "Lord Bulbeck Dead In Love Nest With Hooker!"--as soon as he shows up, of course.
Ding! Dong! It's Lord Bulbeck! Sigourney is forced to open the door and bang! bang! bang! The evil trusted character dies in a shower of gun-fire. The police rush the dazed Weaver (who took a slug in the shoulder) to a near-by ambulance, while cordoned off spectators clap (?). Where's Lord Bulbeck? He's off to the side, watching the action and coolly smoking a cigarette. When the smoke clears he helpfully inquires, "Is the girl OK?"
The End Of The Affair...
Turns out Lord Bulbeck knew he was being targeted by baddies! He also knew Dr. Lauren was unknowingly being set-up to trap him! And he never told her! Oh, no! Does this mean their love never existed? Was Lord Bulbeck just "faking it" to fool the terrorists?
Rest easy, movie lovers. From the looks Caine and Weaver exchange at the end of the flick, it's clear that their love will survive "Half-Moon Street"...as did their subsequent careers, despite the fact that the picture bombed at the box office.
After watching "Half-Moon Street", I couldn't help but notice that it bore A VERY STRANGE RESEMBLANCE to the deeply cherished TV-movie "Co-Ed call Girl", starring your friend and mine, Tori Spelling.
Consider: Sigourney Weaver is a PhD in her movie, while Tori is the most blank-faced pre-med student ever in hers. Both characters need money. Both sign up with an "escort agency". Both enjoy raking in the cash. Sigourney is almost killed by terrorists, while Tori is almost killed by her pimp. Both gals spout goofy dialogue. Sigourney, remember, brags about having a gynecologist who knows karate. Tori, meanwhile, whimpers, "My heart's not in it anymore!", which causes her pimp to snarl back, "I don't care about your heart! Only this body and what it can do for me!" Both eventually quit being escorts.
Furthermore, Sigourney is the daughter of TV pioneer Sylvester "Pat" Weaver and Tori is the daughter of "The Sultan of Schlock" Aaron Spelling.
A harmless coincidence? You tell me...
So once you have digested the cheesy goodness that is "Half-Moon Street", what life lessons will you take away?
1) Having a gynecologist who knows karate is great--for them. However, it won't do a damn thing for you.
2) Higher education and an advanced degree does not guarantee one a life-time of meaningful employment.
3) Graduating from Yale Drama School (as Weaver did) also does not guarantee one a life-time of stellar parts on the stage or the screen.
4) Vincent Lindon, the sexy Frenchman Sigourney shacks up with, once dated Princess Caroline of Monaco. There was even speculation they might marry. Alas, after 5 years, the duo called it quits and Caroline eventually married Prince Ernst of Hanover (they are currently separated, sad to say).
5) Whether you call yourself a hooker, an escort, a call girl, a lady of the evening or a street walker, you still sell your body for cash to strangers. Sad, really--and dangerous.
6) Few johns look like Michael Caine.
7) Sigourney is one of the few silver screen hookers who didn't get an Oscar or an Oscar nomination for playing a doxie. Kim Basinger, Shirley Jones, Elisabeth Shue, Sharon Stone, Donna Reed, Jane Fonda and Jodie Foster were luckier.
Last, but not least, "Half-Moon Street" may be a swanky address in London, but it's a cinematic dead-end everywhere else.
Until next time, save the movies!