Thanks to her role as the vindictive, diamond-festooned jackal Alexis Carrington on the decade-defining TV series Dynasty, Joan Collins was the face of Reagan-era opulence. Like Elizabeth Taylor, she seemed to have a knack for playing gorgeous man-eaters who could reduce rivals to dust with a single bitchy quip. At the height of Dynasty’s prime-time run, Collins leveraged her stardom into a pair of lavish made-for-TV CBS movies that are a hoot for aficionados of ’80s camp.
First up is Monte Carlo (1986, Not Rated, 3 hrs., 5 mins.), a giddy cocktail that’s one part Casablanca and one part Hart to Hart. Set in the ritzy titular Côte d’Azur playground on the eve of WWII, the two-parter features Collins as a famous Russian chanteuse spying for British intelligence; George Hamilton as a frisky, bronzed playboy; Malcolm McDowell as an international businessman helping Jews escape Europe; and a Love Boat-esque supporting cast of semi-luminaries dabbling in sun-kissed intrigue. It’s a blast — especially compared with the inferior but satisfyingly trashy three-parter Sins (1986, Not Rated, 5 hrs., 30 mins.), which traces the scandalous rags-to-riches rise of Collins’ Helene Junot, a French go-getter who escapes the Nazis, becomes a Parisian fashion model, and blossoms into a media mogul alongside her brother (former 007 Timothy Dalton). Collins (pictures, with co-star Lauren Hutton) disco-dances, churns through a half-dozen lovers, and dons more shoulder-padded gowns than you can shake a stick at. The only thing missing from this ’80s time capsule is a cameo from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous host Robin Leach. Monte Carlo: B; Sins: C