Sunday 14 October 2018

Movie Review: Two Weeks In Another Town (1962)

A film industry drama, Two Weeks In Another Town idles in place, choking on an emotional void.

Former superstar film actor Jack Andrus (Kirk Douglas) has spent three years in a sanitarium after suffering a nervous breakdown. He caught his wife Carlotta (Cyd Charisse) cheating, resorted to alcoholism, and intentionally crashed his car into a wall. Now almost recovered, he accepts an invitation from director Kruger (Edward G. Robinson) to shoot a few scenes for good money in Rome.

Kruger and Andrus collaborated on seven previous features when they were both hugely successful. Now Kruger's career is also in decline, working for a cut-rate Italian producer and constantly nagged by his wife Clara (Claire Trevor). Jack steps in to help complete the film, including straightening out wayward star Davie Drew (George Hamilton), who is suffering from the sudden onset of stardom. Jack also starts a relationship with Veronica (Daliah Lavi), but Carlotta's presence in Rome complicates matters and re-triggers Jack's insecurities.

Ten years after the brilliant The Bad And The Beautiful, director Vincente Minnelli reteams with star Kirk Douglas for another inside-Hollywood story. They need not have bothered. This adaptation of the Irwin Shaw novel is a miserable screen experience, wasting a good cast and made worse by a CinemaScope format intended to showcase Rome but instead dwarfing what is intended as a character study.

As soon as Jack arrives in Rome the film stalls and drifts sideways with no apparent purpose and then starts to inch backwards into unintentional satirical territory. A romance with Veronica drops in from another movie, a miscast George Hamilton tries in vain to generate intensity, and Cyd Charisse as Carlotta appears to exist for the sole purpose of aggravating Jack.

In the meantime any sense of drama is supposed to be generated by Jack overseeing the dubbing process and then taking over directing duties: his techniques include kicking his star lady in the butt to get her to perform. Only Edward G. Robinson as once-celebrated director Kruger trying to reverse a precipitous career slide emerges with any credit.

By the time Jack emotionally regresses into a crazed driver mode both Douglas' wild-eyed over-the-top acting and Minnelli's equally bungled rear projection staging threaten to turn the film into bad comedy. Two Weeks In Another Town should have just stayed home.

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