Jack Andrus (Kirk Douglas) was an actor until he had a nervous breakdown and was admitted into a facility where he was slowly getting better. Then an invitation reaches him from director Maurice Kruger (Edward G. Robinson): he should come to Rome, where Kruger is working on a movie in which Jack could have a small part. Jack can’t resist and so he finds himself in Rome for two weeks. But things there aren’t all fun and games: Kruger and his wife Clara (Claire Trevor) are constantly fighting, the film’s young star Davie (George Hamilton) is erratic, and Jack’s ex Carlotta (Cyd Charisse) is also in town and immediately on Jack’s case. But maybe that’s just what he needs.
I really liked this movie. It’s a tad campy in parts and the ending is overblown, but somehow it all works wonderfully anyway.
Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas) is a once-great producer who has fallen from grace. In a last attempt to resurrect his career, he calls in an actress (Lana Turner), a writer (Dick Powell) and a director (Barry Sullivan) he helped to make into stars. But all three of them are very reluctant to help Shields since he betrayed all of them in turn. While they think about it, their first encounters with Shields are retold.
The movie has its weaknesses, but altogether I really, really liked it. Mostly due to Kirk Douglas, Gloria Grahame and Vincente Minnelli’s beautiful direction.