“Two Weeks in Another Town,” a film directed by Vincente Minnelli from 1962, recalls another Minnelli film, the wonderful “The Bad and the Beautiful,” from 1951. Kirk Douglas stars in both films, but Two Weeks in Another Town drifts more towards satire and farce than drama. Douglas plays a washed-up actor, Jack Andrus, who suffers from alcoholism and mental illness. While in a very fancy mental hospital, he gets a letter from a former colleague, a director named Maurice Kruger (Edward G. Robinson) to play a part in a film. The rest of the picture takes place in Rome, where Andrus finds love with Daliah Lavi and feuds with Kruger and the film’s male star.
The characters act unkind and cynical with each other, which adds to the humor. Kruger’s film, the movie within the movie that’s never named, undergoes filming at Cinecittà, the famous studio in Rome. However, the place suffers the worst of Hollywood, with uncooperative actors, an irritating producer and an abusive director (Kruger). Andrus’ break comes when Kruger suffers a heart attack; from his sickbed, Kruger persuades Andrus to finish directing the film.
Spending three years in a mental asylum doesn’t seem to dull Andrus’ artistic sensibilities, and he ends up doing quite well in the director’s chair. Andrus meets a major complication when he begins socializing with the beautiful Veronica (Lavi). She’s dating the nervous young actor Davie Drew, who can’t seem to come up with the confidence and professionalism to complete his scenes satisfactorily. This forces Andrus to molly-coddle the young male star, but that also helps Drew look better in Veronica’s eyes. As Andrus’ support system falters, he returns to drinking heavily and his binge becomes a travelogue for the viewer showing the sights of Rome.
Douglas acts crazy at one point during the film, but not “Lust for Life” crazy. He tones it down during a wild car ride through Rome with Cyd Charisse, who plays his ex-wife. You can’t go wrong with Douglas and Robinson, and George Hamilton, who plays a petulant actor, does a fine job as well. All the negative forces conspiring to sabotage the movie within the movie stem from Kruger’s inability to focus and regain his lost directing talent. The eventual condition that befalls Kruger must have been a scenario that Minelli could easily contemplate. Minnelli directs another good “inside” Hollywood film, and adds a hefty dose of cynicism and humor.