This TV movie proceeds as if it’s more intricate and shrewd than it actually is. Blackmail stars Dale Midkiff (Elvis and Me) and Beth Toussaint (who played one of Bobby Ewing’s girlfriends on Dallas) as the perpetrators of a scam: Midkiff seduces lonely married women, gives them some good lovin’, and then bilks them of money. Toussaint — well, there’s the first problem with Blackmail: Toussaint just lolls around in a hotel room, painting her toenails and occasionally answering the phone, waiting for Midkiff to come back with the money. Her character is strictly scenery.

Anyway, Mac Davis shows up as a private eye who’s onto the pair’s scam. A schemer himself, he wants a cut of the money. But Midkiff falls in love with one of the women he’s supposed to be scamming; she’s played with off-putting, ice-cube hardness by Susan Blakely (Rich Man, Poor Man). Midkiff and Blakely decide to turn the tables on Davis and Toussaint. Soon, everybody is betraying everybody else, and Blackmail turns into a dumber version of The Grifters. Each character is assigned but a single expression: Midkiff broods, Davis leers, Toussaint sneers, Blakely stares. Saturday-morning cartoon shows have more emotional variety. D

  • Movie
  • 84 minutes