This disappointing movie about moviemaking features Douglas as a former Hollywood star whose personal life collapsed as his popularity declined. He has spent three years recuperating in a New England sanatorium, trying to make sense of a life plagued by alcohol, divorce, a nervous
breakdown, and a near-fatal car crash. His doctors allow him to go to Rome, where Douglas has been offered a small role in a new film to be directed by the equally has-been Robinson. Together Douglas and Robinson had made some of their greatest pictures, but now these once-mighty talents are
reduced to making low-budget Italian spectacles. Upon arriving, Douglas learns his minor part has been filled and the picture itself is in deep trouble. Producer Doro is giving Robinson nothing but headaches about budget, and leading lady Schiaffino can barely speak English. Hamilton, the film's
other star, is also giving Robinson problems with his disrespectful attitude and constant fights with girl friend Lavi. Robinson implores Douglas to supervise the film's dubbing, hopeful that his friend can save the picture. Douglas reluctantly agrees, and his ego receives a further blow when his
ex-wife, Charisse, shows up to see how much power she still wields over him. At an anniversary party, Robinson's shrewish wife, Trevor, accuses her husband of fooling around with Schiaffino. The two get in a heated argument, which leads to Robinson suffering a heart attack. Douglas replaces him as
director, bringing the film in under budget, and also helps out Hamilton with his personal troubles. Robinson, bitter over his replacement's success, accuses Douglas of trying to ruin his career. Douglas turns to Charisse for comfort, and the two embark on a wild night of total abandon. The
evening ends with a dangerous car ride, and Douglas realizes he must grab control of his own life. He cuts loose the ties he has made in Rome, then heads alone to Hollywood to begin a new career as a director.
Adapted from a trashy Irwin Shaw novel, this film is plagued by poorly written characters, played like cartoon figures rather than flesh-and-blood human beings. Everyone fits a certain type with no sense of style at all. Only Robinson and Trevor give any real life to their creations, but their
efforts are middling at best. At one point Douglas and Robinson reminisce over former successes, watching clips from one of their past hits. The clips used are from THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, the classic film that was also about the movie business. Director Minnelli, Douglas, screenwriter Schnee,
and producer Housemann had all worked together on that film, and it is with a sort of perverse irony that this classic motion picture was chosen to represent the successes of the new film's characters. In his autobiography I Remember It Well, Minnelli wrote, "What we filmed was a better picture
than what was released... The culprit responsible for the hacking of the picture was the head of the studio in New York, who...found the philosophy of the film immoral...and attacked our picture with a meat cleaver. This was the only time in my career such a catastrophe befell me."
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This disappointing movie about moviemaking features Douglas as a former Hollywood star whose personal life collapsed as his popularity declined. He has spent three years recuperating in a New England sanatorium, trying to make sense of a life plagued by al… (more)