Playing Sun Sept 25 at 2, 4:30, 6:50, 9:15 at BAMcinématek [Program & Tix]
We’ve got Minnelli fever over here at Alt Screen, with a feature coming soon. His two corrosive showbiz spectaculars play this weekend at BAM in “The Complete Vincente Minnelli” (thru November 2 – a whopper of a retrospective).
Today’s pick is less well-known and regarded than Saturday’s The Bad and The Beautiful, and is marred by studio hackwork – remarks Minnelli in his memoir, “I liked my orgy better” – but remains an exciting, fascinating movie-movie. Jean-Luc Godard pronounced Contempt, a year later, the sequel to Minnelli’s film.
As Glenn Kenny notes, “The conventional wisdom in certain circles is that this quasi-sequel/companion piece to 1952’s The Bad And The Beautiful is both a weak and weird sister to the prior film. I won’t deny the ‘weird’ part; in fact I revel in it. ‘Weak’ I of course take issue with.’
And Kenny is not alone. Richard Brody for the New Yorker:
Any classic studio director had enough experience to make an inside-Hollywood expose. Minnelli made two, both starring Kirk Douglas, and they’re among the greatest: The Bad and the Beautiful and Two Weeks In Another Town. Douglad plays Jack Andrus, an Oscar-winning movie star who, after a crack-up, is a long-term patient in a Connecticut clinic and hasn’t acted in years. The director with whom he did his best work, Maurice Kruger (Edward G. Robinson), invites him to Rome for a supporting role he’s shooting at the Cinecitta studio. There, Andrus gets caught in the crossfire of Kruger’s intrigues, which involve a spoiled young actor (George Hamilton), the starlet Kruger is bedding, a snarky journalist, and the mercenary Italian producer, whose constraints induce Kruger to hire Andrus as his right-hand man and get him a start at work behind the camera.
A private screening, for Kruger’s cast and crew, of “The Bad and the Beautiful” – which is indentified as starring Andrus and directed by Krugar – suggests that Minnelli is offering up a sort of self-portrait, and it’s not a pretty one. Kruger, a crusty martinet and a womanizer (whose affair with Andrus’s former lover, played by Cyd Charisse, drove Andrus over the edge), is a once-great filmmaker, not facing financial ruin and artistic insecturity, and the vitriolic harridan (Claire Trevor) with whom he’s locked in a mutually flaying marriage is his only source of solace and unconditional defense. Minnelli’s flamboyantly expressive flourishes highlight the tormented extremes of movie people, which, he shows, both threaten their work and fuel it with the passions that give it lasting value.
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