Thursday, October 8, 2009

1962 - TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN-is this how they really make movies?

This was the film I watched after Kwaidan?

An expose on the making of movies? A Kirk Douglas overacting fest? A florid melodrama? A comedy? One of the most ridiculous films ever made about anything?

The director Vincent Minnelli and the producer John Houseman apparently conceived this film as a riff on The Bad And The Beautiful with the level of hysteria ramped up to the nth degree.  Kirk Douglas is a washed up actor who has spent the last three years of his life on the funny farm recovering from a crack up that involved his incredibly trampy ex-wife Cyd Charisse and the movie going public who "wanted a piece of him." Offered a job by his equally washed up mentor/director Edward G Robinson, Douglas travels to Rome where Robinson is shooting a crappy film with temperamental method actor George Hamilton at Italy's famous Cinecitta studios the home of Fellini. Kirk stutters and shakes as he tries to maintain his sanity and stay away from ex wife Cyd who is sleeping with anything that walks on two legs. Fortunately Kirk runs into a young woman who feels his pain and screws Kirk anytime he is about to crack up from the pressure. Naturally the young woman is the girlfriend of George Hamilton. 

If movies are made like this God help us all. Minnelli had been a studio director at MGM almost his entire career and Houseman had worked for the ego that was Orson Welles so they must have seen plenty of people behaving badly in Hollywood. Still it's hard to believe this kind of behavior would go on during the making of a movie on the other hand... 


 Kirk Douglas is the washed up actor, with every over exaggerated Rich Little imitation of Kirk Douglas that I ever saw.   Edward G Robinson an actor who started out a star and moved to character parts, always seemed somewhat of a larger than life personality and he's really larger than life in this film. Claire Trevor plays Robinson's wife in the film and she is definitely a highlight. There is not a single scene where she doesn't scream out her lines as a shrewish harpy.  Minnelli's directorial advice to her must have been "go for it."  Daliah Lavi an Israeli actor played the sweet innocent young thing who gives Kirk back his confidence by frequently screwing him.   Lavi was a model in a previous career and apparently nobody spent money on acting or English lessons for her as she struggles mightily. 

George Hamilton plays a James Dean type with long hair and an attitude. As his character is supposed to a shallow actor type who better to play a shallow actor than a shallow actor.  Cyd Charisse had worked for Minnelli particularly on his classic musical The Bandwagon . Cyd was a great dancer who Fred Astaire said was the best he ever worked with but it kind of stopped there.  She couldn't sing so she was usually dubbed in her musicals and she couldn't act, so the demands that Minnelli placed on her were way past her abilities. 

MGM cut 10 minutes out of the orgy scene towards the end of the film over Minnelli and Houseman's objections and who the hell could blame them. The editing was clearly an attempt by the studio to tone down an already crazed film. The final wild car ride completely sums up and restates everything this film is about, crazed acting, crappy rear projection and and over the top staging staging. The scene ends with Kirk driving into a waterfall with the water splashing on his face to purge him of his demons.

The film is supposedly a favorite of Scorese and Goddard.

A very campy classic.

107 minutes.

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