TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN (1962) C widescreen 108m dir: Vincente Minnelli
w/Kirk Douglas, Edward G. Robinson, Cyd Charisse, George Hamilton, Dahlia Lavi, Claire Trevor, James Gregory, Rosanna Schiaffino, Joanna Roos, George Macready, Mino Doro, Stefan Schnabel, Vito Scotti, Tom Palmer, Erich von Stroheim Jr., Leslie Uggams
From the Turner Classic Movies website, www.tcm.com, this article about the film by James Steffen: "Hollywood star Jack Andrus has been living in a sanitarium after a difficult divorce and a collapse into alcoholism, culminating in an automobile accident. Maurice Kruger, the director with whom Andrus had worked during his peak years, invites him to leave the sanitarium and play a small part in a production shooting in Rome. When Andrus arrives, he sees that Kruger is in artistic decline and that Tucino, the crass Italian producer, is threatening to take away control of the film if it is not finished on schedule. Matters are not helped by the temperamental behavior of Davie Drew, a young American star whose career is already on the downturn. Kruger tells Andrus that there is no part for him after all, but asks him to supervise the dubbing and help save the picture; with some hesitation, Andrus agrees to take on the job. While working on the set, Andrus falls in love with the Italian starlet Veronica, provoking the jealousy of Davie Drew. He also runs into his promiscuous ex-wife Carlotta, who resurrects painful memories of his past. When Kruger has a heart attack, Andrus ends up taking over as director of the film, facing his biggest professional and personal challenges yet.
"In Two Weeks in Another Town (1962), Vincente Minnelli teams
up again with the same composer (David Raksin), screenwriter (Charles Schnee),
producer (John Houseman) and star (Kirk Douglas) with whom he had worked on
the ultimate Hollywood melodrama, The
Bad and the Beautiful (1952). This film even uses excerpts from the
1952 film to stand in for Kruger and Andrus' earlier collaboration. However,
Two Weeks in Another Town is decidedly more bitter in tone, partly
reflecting the decline in fortunes of the Hollywood film industry from the early
Fifties to the early Sixties.
The writer Irwin Shaw (1913-1984), whose 1960 novel is the basis for this film, is perhaps best known today for the pulpy bestsellers Rich Man, Poor Man (1970) and Beggarman, Thief (1977), but he in fact had a remarkably diverse career. He first established his reputation as an innovative dramatist with plays such as the anti-war drama Bury the Dead (1936) and the Depression-era fable The Gentle People (1939); his work from this period links him to progressive-minded playwrights such as Clifford Odets. During the 1940s, Shaw turned mainly to the short story, where he produced what is arguably his most lasting work as a writer. Appearing in magazines such as The New Yorker, Collier's and Esquire and widely anthologized, his stories, many of them satirizing the empty materialism of affluent society, have become models for younger generations of short-story writers. Starting with The Young Lions (1948) Shaw's output shifted more to novels, although with mixed critical success.
"In adapting it for the screen, screenwriter Charles Schnee and Minnelli made a number of significant changes to the novel, which is somewhat more loosely structured and rich with peripheral incidents and characters. The novel opens with Jack Andrus at the Orly airport in Paris with his French wife Helen and their children. In the film, Andrus' family has been removed altogether. In the novel, Andrus' acting career has been cut short due to a disfiguring accident during the war, but in the film it is due to a psychological breakdown. Also, in the novel Veronica's jealous lover is an American screenwriter and not an actor. In Shaw's story confronting the demons of his past allows Andrus to repair his relationship with his wife and children; in the film the overall thrust of the story has been shifted in the film to focus more on Jack Andrus' journey to emotional and creative self-sufficiency.
"Another way in which Minnelli made the film his own was through its web of cinematic allusions, not least among them the clips from The Bad and the Beautiful. In particular, the Roman setting of the film is not just the locale of the novel, but it also deliberately echoes Fellini's La Dolce Vita (1960), especially the climactic orgy scene and the brief scene with the prostitutes gathering around cars in the park. Lastly, the film's examination of the lives of artists is prime Minnelli material, found also in films such as An American in Paris (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful, The Band Wagon (1953) and Lust for Life (1956).
"Not surprisingly, the adult subject matter of the film ran into problems with the MPAA and the conservative studio executives at MGM. The difficulties behind the production are well documented in Stephen Harvey's excellent 1989 book Directed by Vincente Minnelli. Among the controversial elements were Andrus' affair with Veronica and an extended orgy sequence featuring off-screen lovemaking before a group of drunken onlookers. The new studio head, Joseph Vogel, wanted to transform the project into a 'family film' and had it drastically re-edited. John Houseman, the film's producer, threatened to remove his name from the credits unless he had more control over what kinds of cuts were made and the overall shape of the film. While the finished product is hardly the 'family film' that Vogel wanted, its impact was undeniably muted. In his 1988 autobiography The Ragman's Son Kirk Douglas writes: 'I felt this was such an injustice to Vincente Minnelli, who'd done such a wonderful job with the film. And an injustice to the paying public, who could have had the experience of watching a very dramatic, meaningful film. They released it that way, emasculated.' Two Weeks in Another Town was not well received by the critics or the public. Still, thanks to strong central performances by Kirk Douglas and Edward G. Robinson and Minnelli's stylish direction, the film is very much worth watching today. Look for a cameo by Leslie Uggams as a nightclub singer."
From the Combustible Celluloid website (www.combustiblecelluloid.com), this review of the film by Jeffrey M. Anderson:
"The great American director Vincente Minnelli (1903-1986) was not a man who hid his emotions. His movies have their hearts on their sleeves. In the 1940s, he fell in love with his three-time leading lady Judy Garland and guided her through three luminous performances. When their relationship ended, he embarked on a series of technically and emotionally complex musicals, as well as some equally layered melodramas. One of these was The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), the story of some enterprising filmmakers, with an insider's view of Hollywood. Kirk Douglas starred in that one, and he stars here again, ten years later.
"This movie is sort of a sequel, sort of a spinoff, sort of a tribute. Douglas plays an actor, Jack Andrus, who --- in the world of this movie --- was the star of The Bad and the Beautiful. Jack has had a nervous breakdown and has checked himself into a hospital. He receives a telegram from his old colleague, movie director Maurice Kruger (Edward G. Robinson), who may or may not be a stand-in for Minnelli. They have made several successful films together, and were once the best of friends, but they had a falling out. The telegram summons Jack to Rome, where a small part in Kruger's latest movie awaits him.
"Jack arrives and discovers that there is no part, and worse, Jack's crazy ex-wife Carlotta (Cyd Charisse) is also there. Kruger's movie looks awful; he's directing a spoiled young pretty boy of an American actor, Davie Drew (George Hamilton), and a fiery Italian starlet Barzelli (Rosanna Schiaffino), both of whom will be dubbed later. Jack also meets the lovely Veronica (Daliah Lavi), who is more or less Davie's girlfriend, and begins a romance with her. Then, Kruger suffers a heart attack, and Jack decides to finish the film.
"All kinds of jealousy, obsession, passion, regret and doubt are woven throughout all these plot threads, and Minnelli looks at them through the eyes of a veteran 60 year-old. This is no exciting expose of showbiz; this is a look at a dried-up old whore of an industry, where the young people are simply doomed to repeat the mistakes of their forefathers. Any moment in this movie can bring a new kind of response: elation, terror, chills, shakes, joy, or dozens of others. Unlike any other director of his time except Nicholas Ray, Minnelli wraps all this up in an astonishingly detailed use of the widescreen frame.
"I've already seen a couple of new reviews that are calling this movie hysterical, overacted, and even inept (regarding the poor process shots at the film's conclusion). This merely illustrates that we're an audience of cynical viewers today, unable to comprehend or respond to a slew of uneven emotions as Minnelli could sling them; today we only respond to things that are molded precisely according to the template. As for the process shot, that was simply the kind of visual effects that were available at the time. Many movies from this same period also use them.
"Critics that complain about Claire Trevor's performance as Kruger's nasty wife do have a good point, though it should be mentioned that her character is a little deeper and more complex than she appears; she's not just a shrill harpy. She's unhappy, but she and her husband are still clearly in love, as illustrated by a couple of small moments in the film's second half.
"Two Weeks in Another Town has been unavailable for too long, and new movie fans are coming to it for the first time. It's featured in Martin Scorsese's great documentary on American movies, and Andrew Sarris mentions it favorably in his The American Cinema entry on Minnelli, with things like 'Pirandellian pyrotechnics' and 'summed up his career and the American cinema as a whole' and 'Last Year at Marienbad and La Dolce Vita will never look the same again.' But other than that, it has no real reputation to speak of.
"Let's hope that this new Warner Archive DVD, with a gorgeous new widescreen transfer, helps to bring more people back to this classic. Let's also hope that these first few knee-jerk reviews won't stick, and that people will re-assess what is the culmination of a great career filled with glorious images and deeply-felt emotions."