I attended high school with Sam Buca, the screen writer. He was always engaged in shenanigans of some sort: giving wrong directions to British tourists, selling photos of his busty sister licking a banana, convincing a cheer leader he loved her, putting syrup of ipecac in the punch at a school dance, using a fake I.D. to check out library books and keep them. But I digress.
Serpico In Switzerland was the first script he sold. The former NYPD whistle blower is leading a quiet life in Geneva when he discovers something is amiss in the banking industry. The film follows his investigation, riddled with clocks and chocolates, and a few frauleins. There are two scenes that stand out - one, set against the backdrop of Thelonious Monk's sad piano, follows Serpico on a train ride into France, and then to a bank. Things had gotten so dicey for him in Switzerland that he had to leave the country just to cash his pay check. The other is near the end of the film - the corrupt bankers feel the net closing around them and don't spare Serpico any hostility. He's interviewing an elderly financier during flu season, when the evil man leans forward and suddenly coughs on our hero. The camera zooms in on Serpico's face as he mutters under his breath - "And I thought New York was dangerous."
With his first film having been a surprise hit, Buca opted for a pretentious art house flick for his next venture. The sequel to Girl With A Pearl Earring, Woman With A Pearl Necklace, takes place a few years in the future. The girl of the painting is now attending the University of Amsterdam, but tuition is expensive. So she gets a work study job as a nude model for aspiring painters. Alas, they are not Vermeer, and it's possible that they appreciate her for non-academic reasons.
The backlash from Vermeer fans was fierce, the most vocal protests coming from Jan Spaettervink, a gallery owner in Rotterdam. He and his most loyal followers picketed the film festivals that showed Woman With A Pearl Necklace - Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca. Spaettervink eventually got arrested for throwing a dirty paint brush at Scarlet Johannson. During the trial, his young female disciples gathered on the court house steps and raised their skirts to show the pallet and easel tattoos on their left cheeks. It was all very Manson-esque.
Sam did a couple more sequels. Rick, Ilse, and Victor once again find themselves in a love triangle in Albany, but Victor's now a mild-mannered insurance salesman with a pot-belly, not the war hero he once was. In Mr. Bueller's Day Off, it seems Ferris has a hankering for the baby sitter, a Northwestern drama major with a pierced navel. Unfortunately, neither of these was as successful as Serpico In Switzerland. So the studio execs stopped committing large budgets to his projects. He writes pornos now, as the preferred alternative to Lifetime channel movies.