Once again, and perhaps for the final time, Patrick Duffy is Bobby Ewing.
Yesterday, a movie titled Hotel Dallas, directed by a Brooklyn-living U.S.-and-Romanian husband-and-wife team, held its world premiere at the 66th International Film Festival Berlin. It purports to tell a very simple story: How Dallas, the TV series, brought capitalism to communist countries -- the subject of myriad textbooks and essays penned ever since Larry Hagman was still bed-hopping on CBS. As Duffy told me years ago, at the cast reunion at Southfork that sparked TNT's interest in its short-lived reboot, "We can go anywhere in the world, and no matter how negative the momentary opinion of our country might be by virtue of what we have done, they still react to the possibility of what this country could be even in something as trivial as a television show."
Visitors had come from all over for the event -- from Ireland, Pakistan, Romania, Lewisville.
That, in part, is why Duffy agreed to sign on to Hotel Dallas, which is, per The Hollywood Reporter's dispatch from Berlin, a "surreal" fictional account of the TV show's impact on Romania and how it led to the demise of a dictatorship. From the program, the synopsis:
"In communist Rumania in the 1980s the US television series Dallas provided the only window on the capitalist world and at the time it seemed as if all of Rumania's population were glued to their TV screens," it reads. "Ilie and his daughter Livia are also great fans of the series. Livia's father Ilie sees in the figure of ruthless oil tycoon J. R. Ewing the perfect role model for his own devious dealings, while Livia falls in love with actor Patrick Duffy who plays Bobby Ewing. After the collapse of the socialist system Ilie builds Hotel Dallas -- and subsequently uses it to embezzle millions in taxes. Livia however finds herself drawn to the land of freedom and moves to the USA. Years later she decides to return to her native land: she wants to take her teenage heartthrob Duffy on an odyssey across Rumania to show him just how 'Dallas capitalism' has left its mark on this post-communist country."
The official summary on the movie's website is even more amazing-sounding:
"Livia immigrates to America, becomes a filmmaker, and directs a movie starring Patrick Duffy, as a man who dies in Texas and wakes up in Romania, in a hotel that looks just like home."
The Hotel Dallas is a real place -- a once-gaudy, sprawling replica of Southfork that sits on 247 acres in Slobozia. It was, not long ago, a shell of its former self; then, it was converted into a hotel for the Ewing faithful, of whom there are many. But, again, it appears to have fallen into disrepair -- the perfect setting for a movie about faded dreams.
The filmmakers -- Livia Ungur and Sherng-Lee Huang -- use "the characters of Bobby and J.R. ... only as ghostly apparitions in voice-overs," according to the trade. And, at first, they weren't even going to bother Duffy. But then they went for it. And, once again, Patrick Duffy plays Bobby Ewing.
"I admit, at first I didn't understand it," Duffy told THR. "It wasn't the kind of movie I'm used to seeing. So I showed it to my sons, who said, 'This is brilliant, you have to get involved.'"
He was paid with a bottle of wine.