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Robert Walker Jr.,
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A cop quits the force after too much disappointment in the system. He becomes a bodyguard of a rich recent widow. She is on trial for her husband's murder. He decides to help her clear her name... and get over her husband.
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. Written by
A film of love and hate.Between the fallen actor and his aging director;between the director and his hysterical wife;between Carlotta and her former husband;between the young actor and the old one.In a nutshell, an intense melodrama in the vein of these Minnelli extravaganzas ("some came running" "home from the hill" and particularly "the four horsemen of the Apocalypse" -remember the famous scene where the whole family is gathered around the table while a storm is raging-).
Minnelli had already broached Hollywood before in "the bad and the beautiful" the ending of which was one of the most ferocious I know.Excerpts of this 1952 work are used here with stunning results.Douglas watching himself when he was supposed to be young and famous recalls Gloria Swanson watching her silent movies (with her former director Von Stroheim now her butler) in "Sunset Boulevard".
But it's Cinecitta now.A new Italian cinema is rising and Minnelli is aware of that.He had probably seen Fellini's and Antonioni's works and their influence emerge sometimes:Rosanna Schiaffino 's character reminds me of Anita Eksberg in "la dolce vita";the posh receptions have an Antonioni atmosphere("la notte").On the other hand,Douglas's mad drive might have influenced Fellini for his segment of "spirits of the dead" ,"Tobby Dammit" (1968).
But if the movie has a message ,it's this one:If you want somebody you can trust ,trust yourself.Stop hiding in the movie theaters (or in the films),as Douglas's character says to Schiaffino on the beach ,and get a life!
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