DVD: Spend Two Weeks in Another [Overacted, Histrionic] Town

If you long for the days when actors routinely slapped pipes out of their co-stars' faces and cups out of each other's hands, for dialogue where the last word gets wildly accentuated (e.g., "I don't need your CHARITY!" or "He gives me nothing, and nothing is what he GETS!"), then it's time to ferociously stub out your cigarette, throw a shot glass against the wall, and snap up Warner Archive's new DVD of Two Weeks in Another Town.

There's an uncomfortably meta moment early on, when Edward G. Robinson (as a director on a downward slide) screens one of his earlier films for Kirk Douglas (as an actor who, as Valley of the Dolls might put it, "just got out of the nuthouse"). The film in question turns out to be The Bad and the Beautiful, Douglas' earlier movie-about-moviemaking collaboration with Two Weeks director Vincente Minnelli.

Douglas to Robinson: "Kruger, you're great." Robinson to Douglas: "I was great." The scene rings uncomfortably true, as early 1950s Minnelli (when he was making Bad and the Beautiful, The Band Wagon, and Father of the Bride) was indeed greater then early 1960s Minnelli (Two Weeks, The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Goodbye Charlie).

But even without this disconcerting bit of self-reflection, Two Weeks goes way over the top from start to finish, a shrieking melodrama about awful people in a business that's somehow gotten more rotten from year to year. It's a portrait of an industry that freed itself from the tyranny of the studio moguls only to find itself shackled to sleazy Eurotrash producers who were far more interested in the bottom line than in making a "quality" movie. Or so this adaptation of the overwrought novel by Irwin Shaw -- once one of the hottest writers in America, now virtually forgotten -- would have us believe.

Fans of Douglas at his hammiest -- you can almost see the carbon dioxide that comes snorting out of his nose -- will find this a hoot, as will anyone who loves the idea of seeing George Hamilton cast as a moody young James Dean type (just two years after his quintessential role as a rich and suntanned preppy in Where the Boys Are). And if you're a fan of ripping-the-lid-off-showbiz camp extravaganzas, you'll also consider this Two Weeks well spent.