After catching a performance of the play “Volpone,” Cecil Fox (Rex Harrison) has the idea of playing a prank on some of his former lovers. He decides to send letters to three of his former lovers — actress Merle McGill (Edie Adams), Princess Dominique (Capucine), and his common law wife Lone Star Crockett Sheridan (Susan Hayward) — telling them he is on his deathbed and his heir has yet to be decided. Cecil is perfectly healthy, he just wants to see how they react. Cecil hires out of work actor William McFly (Cliff Robertson) to pose as his assistant and help carry out this scheme.
Since Cecil is a very wealthy man, naturally the three women rush to be by his side. When Lone Star arrives with her personal nurse Sarah Watkins (Maggie Smith) in tow, she is confident that she will inherit his estate since she is his common law wife. That night, Sarah goes out with William and when she returns, she finds Lone Star dead, looking as though she had overdosed on sleeping pills. But Sarah knows it couldn’t have been an accidental overdose or suicide. Even though Lone Star took sleeping pills regularly, Sarah made a point of giving her placebos to take at night so she couldn’t possibly take too many. Someone else had to have given Lone Star the pills that killed her.
After a police officer pays a visit to question Cecil and his guests, Sarah finds out that Cecil isn’t really dying, it’s all a ridiculous prank. Since Sarah had told William that Lone Star took sleeping pills, she immediately suspects him of killing her and believes he may be planning to kill Cecil next. William is innocent, so when Cecil turns up dead, the story only becomes more twisted.
I really enjoyed The Honey Pot. The entire cast is absolutely wonderful; I positively adored Rex Harrison, Maggie Smith, and Susan Hayward in this. Joesph L. Mankiewicz’s writing and direction is masterful. The tone of the movie changes sharply from dark comedy to murder mystery, but Mankiewicz was able to make it work. The comedic parts are extremely witty and the murder mystery aspect is loaded with twists to keep you on your toes. The Honey Pot is one of those movies I’m going to have to watch twice to make sure that I caught all the details. I’m definitely glad I decided to give this one a chance.