Consider Kirk Douglas and Cyd Charisse‘s wild car ride through Rome (starting around the 3:13 mark) in this clip from Vincente Minnelli‘s Two Weeks In Another Town (’62). Obviously studio-shot with rear-screen backdrop and a wind machine, it recalls Lana Turner‘s hysterical car ride in Minnelli’s The Bad and the Beautiful (’52). And it shouts out a self-disgusted, I’m-really-miserable-and-have-had-it-up-to-here nihilism that I associate with other compromised characters in Minnelli’s best non-musical films.
In a review of this and three other mid-career Minnelli films from Warner Archives, N.Y. Times columnist Dave Kehr describes Two Weeks as basically about Hollywood exiles at Rome’s CineCitta studios. I would describe it also as being about Minnelli’s own life and frustrations, and about the fact that his powers were ebbing when he made it.
Douglas is “a washed-up actor who checks out of a rehab center when he’s offered a job on a film being shot in Rome by the director (Edward G. Robinson) who first made him a star.” Two Weeks in Another Town also features Claire Trevor, Daliah Lavi, George Hamilton and Rosanna Schiaffino.
The film’s Wikipage says the story was seen by some as partially inspired by the early ’50s relationship between actors Tyrone Power (i.e., Douglas) and Linda Christian (Charisse) and producer Darryl Zanuck (Robinson).”
Christian’s fame, it says, stemmed largely from having wed and divorced Power. They were married from 1949 to 1956. Christian later had a dailliance with athlete Alfonso de Portago, and was photographed with de Portago at the 1957 Mille Miglia car race when he later crashed his Ferrari and died, killing at least ten spectators in the process. Power died the following year of a heart attack at the age of 44. Christian was later also briefly married to the Rome-based British actor Edmund Purdom.