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
I hadn't seen this one since its theatrical release and note that it's not available on video. But Turner Classic Movies unearthed it a while ago, letter-boxed as it deserves and as they so reliably do with widescreen titles.
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. As a Cyd Charisse devotee, I wasn't even disappointed that she didn't get to unfurl those legendary legs and dance across the CinemaScope screen. Made up, coiffed and gowned to look like Delphine Seyrig in "Last Year at Marienbad"(1961), she looks exactly like the sort of vamp who could drive Kirk Douglas to absolute distraction. With Claire Trevor, at her best, sparring bitterly with the immortal Edward G. Robinson; George Hamilton doing an earnest impression of a Method actor (none too good, I'll agree); and Leslie Uggams crooning a siren song whilst reclining amidst the ladies of the evening in a deluxe Roman brothel...well! It just HAS to be seen to be (dis)believed! Luvved it!
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