Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Rome, 1962: 2 weeks in another town

TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN: Former film star Jack Andreus is released from a sanitarium where he has lived for the previous three years, suffering from alcoholism, a traumatic automobile accident, and a severe mental breakdown. He's been offered two weeks of dubbing work in Rome by Maurice Kruger, his old director, who himself is near the end of his fading career and under pressure from his parsimonious Italain producer to finish his picture on time and under budget. Jack is also pressed from a manipulative ex-wife, a rising but self-destructive young star, the director's shrewish wife, and a temperamental Italian diva who requires handling with kid gloves. When the Kruger suffers a heart attack, Andrus views the opportunity as a last chance at the redemption of his personal life and professional career.

Nice to have another look at Vincente Minnelli's 1962 glittering lavish drama set among the La Dolce Vita set in Rome - at the highlight of that era. Kirk Douglas, back with Minnelli after THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (we see clips from it here) and LUST FOR LIFE, delivers another intense performance as the alcoholic actor seizing his last chance for redemption when he takes over the film Edward G Robinson is working on, dealing with the insecure actor (George Hamilton, from that time when he was an interesting young actor), the diva actress whose lines have to be dubbed (Schiaffino), Carlotta his devious ex-wife - Charisse, the acme of glamour here, rather like Delphine Seyrig in LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD - that feather dress she wears is sensational. Daliah Lavi is the young innocent, not part of the jaded movie crowd, that our hero feels he has a second chance with... I liked Daliah a lot in LORD JIM (one to revisit) and that fun Agatha Christie TEN LITTLE INDIANS in 1965. 

This is all very Irwin Shaw, generally well-served by the movies (THE YOUNG LIONS, IN THE FRENCH STYLE, writing credits on THE SEA WALL/THIS ANGY AGE and other favourites of mine), and so it proves here as Vincente piles on the gloss and the agony. Lana Turner had that great scene driving the car in THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL - there is a reprise here with Kirk and Cyd which is even more delirious. TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN may have got rather overlooked in that great year 1962 - hard to believe its 50 years ago!
but certainly pays rewatching now. No one was better than Minnelli when it came to taking pure "camp" elements and turning them into the kind of cinematic excess that had to be seen to be believed. This one is a prime example particularly when Edward G and Claire Trevor reprise their spats from KEY LARGO. Pity Cyd though does not get to unfurl those legs, but she looks deliriously glamorous here as the kind of woman to drive any man to distraction. Its also interesting as an American look at that Cinecitta cinema which was all-powerful then. Some may see it as a trash camp classic but it certainly delivers on all levels - Quality Trash then ! 
This week too I can also catch a tv screening of Vincente's other drama from the same year: that remake of the old Valentino hit FOUR HORSESMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE, where Ingrid Thulin is surprisingly dubbed by Angela Lansbury! Bring it on ....

1 comment:

  1. This was Hollywood's answer to Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA.