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Roger Moore and Talia Shire Take Sequel Break : They're shooting a romantic comedy on the coast of Maine : Moore, Shire

September 17, 1989|CHARLES CHAMPLIN

YORK, MAINE — Some captivities are a good deal more pleasant and endurable than others, but in the end all captivities begin to chafe at least a little.

Ever since he launched his long run as television's The Saint, for example, Roger Moore has been the amply rewarded captive of his considerable gift for portraying an adventurous, romantic insouciance. The gift went on to serve him well through seven outings as James Bond. But after a while you do wonder, as Moore has, if there is not more to the acting life than the arched eyebrow and the amiable leer.

Here on the rockbound coast of Maine, sacred to vacationing presidents past and current, Moore is enjoying a change of pace, playing a cynical bounder turned OK guy in a romantic comedy called "Bed and Breakfast."

Talia Shire, who is producing the film with her husband Jack Schwartzman, has her own experience of captivity and she is similarly in quest of a change of pace in "Bed and Breakfast," playing the principal romantic lead opposite Moore.

It is as Rocky's wife that she is recognized and hailed as she walks around York, Biddeford Pool and the other locations where the film is being shot. Indeed there is "Rocky V" in her near future, and very likely (although neither she nor anyone is yet able to say for sure) there will be another outing for her brother Francis Coppola in his long-speculated-about "Godfather III."

After "Bed and Breakfast" she will play a very spiritual nun in the Nicolas Roeg film of Brian Moore's novel "Cold Heaven." But for the moment she is out of the supporting mode and into a leading role.

Like Moore's, her character undergoes the kind of transformation actors are always grateful to play. She is at first the embittered, withdrawn widow of a charismatic politician who was a public hero and a private heel and whose ghost she can't seem to exorcise, at least until Moore washes ashore. Then the whole and vibrant woman re-emerges.

Colleen Dewhurst, lately an Emmy nominee for "Murphy Brown," plays Shire's mother in "Bed and Breakfast," and she too is enjoying a change of pace from the strong but often formidably austere characters she has played on stage, as in the work of Eugene O'Neill, and in her relatively infrequent films.

This time she is an outspoken, earthy grandmother in whom the sexual fires have not been banked and who enjoys a romp that might have given even Auntie Mame a momentary pause.

The story, a first produced script by Cindy Myers, an American Film Institute graduate, has Moore as an English con man who has conned the wrong victims, been savagely beaten and leaped or fallen from a yacht. He's discovered half-dead amid the driftwood and seaweed on the beach of a failing bed-and-breakfast run by a grandmother, mother and daughter--Dewhurst, Shire and Nina Siemaszko, a 19-year-old who played one of the children in "Tucker." Moore, not so subtly named Adam, turns the three women's lives and several others (including his own) upside down.

"I've always been fascinated by The Stranger who comes in and changes everybody's life," says the director, Robert Ellis Miller ("Reuben Reuben," "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter," "Any Wednesday"). "There's such a literature, from Dostoevsky forward and backward."

On a hazy-bright, warm and muggy afternoon, Miller & Company are shooting on a sloping street near the water's edge at Biddeford Pool, a lobster-fishing hamlet on a sheltered bay just off the Atlantic. It is a long tracking and dollying shot as Moore and the granddaughter, who has her own crush on the stranger, walk up the road to the corner, she full of questions about his mysterious past.

The bad guys have not stopped looking for Moore, which makes for some nice cross-cut tension. Now, as the scene ends, Moore sees their classic red Porsche barreling down the street, and he slips away.

"We have some unusual villains," Miller says; "young and well-dressed and very rich and very dangerous. The rich have a fearlessness that is very menacing."

There is a sizable crowd of villagers in a great semi-circle behind the camera, learning the first great lesson about film- making, which is

that it is extremely slow and tedious work both to watch and to do. The camera tracks are laid and carefully leveled. The camera moves tried and retried with the locally-recruited stand-ins, a college student, Darin Bunstad, from the University of Maine, an art teacher, Barbara Grieg, from Cape Neddick.

The actors are called at last from their caravans. As Moore moves through the crowd, a woman says in a loud whisper, "That's Roger Moore!" "You mean he's still alive?" Moore asks, turning in mock surprise.

He has not made a film since his seventh Bond, "A View to a Kill," four years ago. Earlier this year he startled everyone by agreeing to appear on stage as the romantic singing lead in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Aspects of Love."

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