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A burglar uncovers the lies beneath a Beverly Hills couple's life.
In Beverly Hills, CA, used-car salesman Bill Lennox grows overwhelmed by the hypocrisy and shallowness of his work and the empty, extravagant life he leads with his wife of nineteen years, Bernadette. One morning while the couple lounge at their swimming pool, Bill is horrified to find a live rat in the drain. When a tall black stranger appears, the Lennoxes conclude that he is an exterminator and explain their predicament. After killing the rat, however, the man refuses to depart, prompting Bill and Bernadette to fear that he is a criminal. Although the man has no weapon, Bill and Bernadette comply with his order to go to the house, where they proudly relate the structure's long Hollywood history. When the man, known as Bone, rifles through a desk and finds a photo of a handsome young man, the Lennoxes explain it is their son, who is a lieutenant in the army serving in Vietnam. Critical of the couple's numerous charge-account debts, Bone demands money, but Bill admits their bank account is empty and many of their bills are overdue. Bone continues to threaten the couple and after hitting Bill in the stomach, forces them to their bedroom, where he discovers a small box under the bed. Opening the box, Bone finds papers revealing that Bill has taken out a loan against the house, as well as another loan against his life insurance policy, both without Bernadette's knowledge. Outraged, Bernadette turns on Bill and as a furious argument ensues between them, Bone comes upon a checkbook in Bill's name with $5,000. Disgusted by the Lennoxes' bickering, Bone threatens to tie them up together, but Bernadette refuses and Bill offers to go to the bank to retrieve the money. Bone agrees, but insists Bill return in one hour with the money or he will rape and murder Bernadette. As Bill hurries away in his Rolls Royce, Bernadette nervously listens as Bone describes the squalor of his childhood and how he was forced to kill the cockroaches that infested his family's home. A little later at the bank, Bill is disconcerted when a young woman begins chatting with him as he waits anxiously in a long line. Once Bill reaches the teller and makes his request, the teller suggests that he take out a loan rather than make a full withdrawal. Abruptly recalling Bernadette's refusal to be tied up with him, Bill leaves without making the withdrawal. At a bar across the street, a woman recognizes Bill from his television advertisements and strikes up a conversation, then offers to pay the bar tab when Bill realizes he has no money. Back at the Lennox home, after Bone demands that Bernadette make him a meal, she admits with embarrassment that she does not cook, as she and Bill dine out frequently. Growing more fearful as the hour quickly slips by, Bernadette makes a full pitcher of cocktails and urges Bone to share it with her. Meanwhile, while walking down Sunset Boulevard, Bill runs into the young woman from the bank and, drawn to her, accompanies her to a grocery store, where she convinces him to steal several items then pays for others using food stamps. Bill then accepts her invitation to lunch at her apartment and purposely avoids looking at his watch. Although Bernadette grows drunk, when Bone tells her the hour is up and he will make good on his threat, she sobers up and struggles furiously as he strips off her bathing suit and throws her on top of the pool table. When Bone does not go through with the rape, however, Bernadette is grateful, then puzzled. Back in town, Bill lunches with the woman, who is surprised when he admits that he does not have a mistress. The woman confides that she was molested by her father when she was a child, then proceeds to seduce Bill by re-enacting her molestation. Back at the Lennox home, Bone admits to Bernadette that he initially embraced the role that society had created for black men as criminals and rapists. The recent shift in cultural and social attitudes on racial relations, however, had affected Bone, who has been unable to recapture the mystique of being the "Negro Rapist." Moved by his confession, Bernadette empathizes and says white men have similar difficulties, then sets about seducing Bone. Although initially uncomfortable, Bone eventually gives in. Afterward, Bernadette telephones the bank and is angered to learn that Bill did not make the withdrawal. Fearful that Bill will return with the police, Bone grows anxious to depart, but Bernadette considers Bill's behavior, then tells Bone they should kill him and collect the life insurance. Back in town, Bill flees from the clinging woman and at a phone booth contacts the police to leave an anonymous tip about Bone, but, suspecting the call is a prank, the police hang up on him. Now frightened by the long lapse of time, Bill goes to his advertising agent, Woody, to ask for money. Calculating that Bill is at Woody's, Bernadette gives Bone her husband's clothes and drives him into town. On the way, she confesses to Bone that they lied about their son, who is actually languishing in a Spanish prison for attempting to smuggle hash out of Tangiers. Bernadette grows distressed when she can not recall when or why she and Bill made up the lie about their son, and Bone comforts her. Arriving at Woody's, who has refused to lend Bill money, Bernadette and Bone chase Bill, who gets on a bus headed to the beach. Bernadette and Bone follow and threaten Bill throughout the long ride, but confident that the two will not act in front of witnesses, Bill says he will remain on the bus. Later, realizing the bus has emptied of all the passengers, Bill panics and gets off at the beach, pursued by Bone and Bernadette. Bone assures Bill his murder will be quick and painless, but when Bill breaks into a monologue from his advertising, an outraged Bernadette attacks him furiously, beating him unconscious, then smothering him in the sand. Taken aback, Bone attempts to intervene, but Bernadette says she does need him. Ecstatic about having killed Bill, Bernadette looks around moments later and is shocked to find that Bone has disappeared. Suddenly terrified, Bernadette struggles to concoct a story that Bill was killed by a large black man, then lapses into despair when she cannot recall why or how she decided to murder her husband.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||R||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1972||Production Date:||
A Film by Larry Cohen; in association with The Larry Cohen Company
|Color/B&W:||Distributions Co:||Jack H. Harris Enterprises, Inc.|
|Sound:||Production Co:||Larco Productions, Inc.|
|Duration(mins):||95--96 or 98||Country:||United States|
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