By Merle Bertrand | October 5, 1998

Cubs win!
Sorry. That has nothing to do with this film. It’s just that my beloved Cubbies, who haven’t won the World Series since four years BEFORE the “Titanic” sank, just made the playoffs. A guy’s gotta celebrate while he can.
Horty, who’s probably not a Cubs fan, works at a steel foundry in pre-WWI France and goes home at night to his pretty young wife, Zoe. This simple existence changes when, after winning an annual company-sponsored race – think sort of a coal miner’s triathlon – he’s awarded a trip to England to see the launching of the “Titanic.” He answers a knock at his hotel room door and finds Marie, a stunningly beautiful “Titanic” chambermaid, standing forlornly outside, looking for a place to spend the night. Knowing a Penthouse Forum letter when he sees one, Horty lets her in, then spends the night resisting her tempting charms.
That’s not what he tells the guys back home, however. Egged on by plum brandy and rumors that Zoe slept with the boss to get him promoted, Horty regales the boys in the bar with enrapturing tales of his erotic escapades with the doomed Marie.
The audience’s, Zoe’s – and our – confusion grows about what really happened in Southampton. When Zeppe, a traveling thespian, hires Horty to take his ever-expanding tall tale on the road, this ambivalence increases. Still, the money’s good, so Zoe swallows her jealousy of Marie’s ghost and allows the Rashamon-ish truth to take a back seat.
So did he or didn’t he – or she, for that matter – fool around? Wouldn’t tell ya even if I’d figured it out myself. That I couldn’t is both the curse and the perverse charm of this intriguing picture. It seems that, like in life, everything in “The Chambermaid” is relative. There are few constants.
Except that the Cubs STILL won’t win the World Series.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon
Skip to toolbar