Friday, August 28, 2015

Classic Movie Review: Two Weeks in Another Town

Two Weeks in Another Town (1962)
Directed by: Vincente Minnelli.
Written by: Charles Schnee based on the novel by Irwin Shaw.
Starring: Kirk Douglas (Jack Andrus), Edward G. Robinson (Maurice Kruger), Cyd Charisse (Carlotta), George Hamilton (Davie Drew), Daliah Lavi (Veronica), Claire Trevor (Clara Kruger), James Gregory (Brad Byrd), Rosanna Schiaffino (Barzelli), Joanna Roos (Janet Bark), George Macready (Lew Jordan), Mino Doro (Tucino), Stefan Schnabel (Zeno), Vito Scotti (Assistant Director).

In 1952, Vincente Minnelli and Kirk Douglas teamed up to make The Bad and the Beautiful, about a movie producer on the skids, who in a series of flashbacks, we see precisely why he alienated everyone around him – but in the end, gets them back. 10 years later, the two reteamed for the lesser known Two Weeks in Another Town – also about Hollywood. This isn’t a sequel to The Bad and the Beautiful – although the two films are connected – in the universe of this movie, Jack Andrus, the character Douglas plays, played the lead role in The Bad and the Beautiful, and Maurice Kruger (Edward G. Robinson) directed it. The two have had a falling out, and Andrus has had a mental breakdown. He’s in one of those fancy “resorts” for famous people who’ve had breakdowns, when he gets a telegram from Kruger. He’s in Rome shooting his latest movie – and wants Andrus to come and work for two weeks. Andrus, who hasn’t worked in years, and is essentially a laughingstock now, gets on a plane.

Douglas is great in the movie. The film is essentially a portrait of his madness – the jealously and rage his ex-wife Carlotta (Cyd Charrise) was able to inspire in him – and is still able to. She’s in Rome too, and wants to see him – not to make up for anything, but simply so she can see if she can break him again. Kruger, it seems, is also somewhat toying with Andrus – he has no part for Andrus in his movie, but does need his help. Every movie made in Italy is dubbed – and if Kruger goes over schedule, the sleazy producer will take the movie away from him and finish it on the cheap. Kruger, who knows Andrus knows his work better than anyone, thinks that Andrus can help him out – do the dubbing himself and give the movie the “real Kruger sound”. Andrus, rather reluctantly, agrees.

Two Weeks in Another Town is a rather cynical movie about Hollywood – about how the system chews people up and spits them out. Not just Andrus, who is simply trying to hold onto his sanity, but also Kruger, once a famed director, now making crap, and even Davie Drew (George Hamilton), the young star of the movie – only there because he has already burned his bridges in Hollywood. The people who were once on top, always want to stay there – and will do anything to do so. Kruger is interested in staying on top because of his ego – and because being a director gives him access to an endless supply of pretty, young actresses who will do anything to be in the “pictures” – much to the chagrin of his harpy wife Clara (Claire Trevor) – who spends most of the movie screaming at him – until, of course, he needs her, and then she’s his greatest ally. If she’s married to Kruger, she is someone – if not, then she’s nobody.

Two Weeks in Another Town is an excellent portrait of the insular world of a movie set. True, much of the action happens when they are not making a movie – but basically, what the movie is about is how much people sacrifice to make a movie. Andrus risks his mental stability, Kruger risks his life, and others risk other things as well – to them “the picture” is more important than anything else.

Personally, I would have preferred a dark ending to the movie. The film seems to be heading there, after Andrus looks like he’s gone completely off the deep end – once again because of Carlotta – and then, all of a sudden, nothing. And then they tack on a happy ending. It doesn’t fit with the cynicism that has run through the rest of the movie.

But overall, Two Weeks in Another Town is an excellent portrait of Hollywood. It isn’t quite the film that The Bad and the Beautiful is – that film was more romantic about movies to be sure, but also more satisfying. But Two Weeks in Another Town has been pretty much forgotten – and that should change.

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