2 Weeks in Another Town – Blu-ray Review
The Movie (2.5/5)
Set against the shooting of a major motion picture in Rome, 2 Weeks in Another Town is the story Jack Andrus, a washed up actor attempting to crawl out of a sanitarium after a catastrophic breakdown. Offered a small part by an old friend to get him back on his feet, he drags himself back into the world, and in the process rediscovers what it feels like to be in love. On top of that, in a moment of pure chance, he also discovers what it means to be an artist in command of his craft for the first time when the director of his picture falls ill, leaving him the only man qualified to do the job. It is a story of redemption, of self realization, and most importantly, of love’s ability to inspire us to do great things.
Directed by the legendary MGM directing machine Vincent Minelli, and written by Charles Schnee, who wrote The Bad and the Beautiful, which was another Hollywood insider motion picture released a decade previous, 2 Weeks in Another Town is a jam packed movie with a lot on its plate. In 107 minutes, we get a taste of several different entrees – a little taste of what drove our leading man Jack Andrus, played by a rather over the top Kirk Douglas, to madness, a little taste of what it’s like to take over a flailing Hollywood motion picture, a little taste of a brief love triangle that drives a struggling actor back to his comfort zone, and so on and such forth. It tries to be a big movie that tackles a lot, but in these small, loosely connected chunks that make you wish the script wasn’t so busy. As the credits rolled on 2 Weeks in Another Town, the word that kept ringing in my head was FOCUS.
And because of its distinct lack of focus, we’re robbed of a lot of the movie’s potential. Douglas has the chance to play a man who’s torn between trying to hide within himself from the fear of having another breakdown and embracing the star studded persona Andrus once brought to the table. But, because the movie is so densely packed, Jack and through him Douglas are stripped of any decent chance to have any depth. The same can be be said for his costars, like the always lovely Cyd Charisse, who plays Jack’s manipulative ex-wife Carlotta. Her character is stripped bare of any real meaning, instead serving to tempt Jack a handful of times to break his composure. Or Daliah Lavi, who plays the youthful beauty Veronica. Because of how the movie is structure, she starts out being woo’d by Jack, only to realize that she’s really in love with one of the actors in the Hollywood picture being made, but it just sort of happens, like someone in the editing bay flipped a switch. Or maybe I missed a scene – but that’s the point I’m trying to make! There’s so many criss-crossing story lines and fraying threads thrown about that its hard to keep up with what 2 Weeks in Another Town is trying to tell us as an audience. It feels like a huge missed potential for something to be conjured up with greater meaning.
Overall pacing and construction issues aside, 2 Weeks also suffers from feeling too artificial. If a movie is set in Rome, and is supposed to provide commentary on the trend that Hollywood followed in the 50s and 60s where productions fled to Rome to take advantage of its exotic locales, then it needs to look like Rome. 2 Weeks instead, due to the traditional ways of Minnelli and his creative team, looks like it was shot almost entirely on MGM sound stages. Even though the film is full of location shots, the style that Minnelli and cinematographer Milton R. Krasner bring to the table robs the picture’s visual style any hope of authenticity, further weakening the film. Combine that with a number of glaringly obvious and low quality rear projection driving sequences, and suddenly you have a movie that feels less like a AAA Hollywood production from MGM, and more like something you’d see from MGM-TV.
At the end of the day, the takeaway from 2 Weeks in Another Town is that big budgets and plenty of talent both behind and in front of the camera can’t fix an overly packed script and a phony visual style. It lost nearly two million dollars for MGM during its time of release in 1962, and I can’t imagine today’s critics are going to rediscover as a forgotten masterpiece because it simply isn’t.
The Video (4/5)
2 Weeks in Another Town was shot on 4-perf 35mm film with Panavision anamorphic lenses, resulting with 35mm release prints with a final aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Freshly transferred to HD by the folks at Warner Archive, the film is presented in 1080p resolution in its original 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio.
95% of 2 Weeks in Another Town looks spectacular. Sourced from what I can only imagine is a recently created interpostive, as is usually Warner’s MO, the image has been thoroughly cleaned and has a consistently sharp level of detail through the run time. Color is solid across the board, with excellent yellows, browns, greens, and blues to help sustain the film’s depiction of Rome and all of its supposed wonders.Grain is present throughout the entire transfer in even, organic amounts that add a nice natural texture to the image. Black levels could be better, especially during night time exposures and darker scenes. There are a couple shots that look either heavily filtered or sourced from a film element that is several generations away from the general source however – these few shots are incredibly washed out and stand out in the worst kind of way, accounting for the 5% that isn’t spectacular. Overall, this is a decent job from the folks at the Archive.
The Audio (3.5/5)
2 Weeks in Another Town is presented on Blu-ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono soundtrack that is merely adequate, so set your expectations accordingly. It’s faithful in every way, capturing every limitation from the original source, including when Edward G. Robinson’s character shouts so loud that his dialogue clips and distorts. Good stuff.
Special Features/Packaging (2.5/5)
2 Weeks in Another Town has been released by Warner Archive to Blu-ray in a standard blue keepcase. The front artwork features the film’s bombastic original theatrical poster artwork, which is vivid and intense in all sorts of ways. The back artwork features a cropped shot from the set of the Hollywood film that’s shooting in Rome, as well as a lazily included tiny shot of Douglas and Lavi. Also included is a review quote, a paragraph about the film, theatrical credits, and technical information about the film. A solid packaging design for a rather mild movie.
The only special feature included is a theatrical trailer. I guess whoever put together this release was about as excited about the movie as I am.
Technical Specs (click for technical FAQs)
Region Coding: None
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
DTS-Master Audio 2.0 Mono(English)
Runtime: 107 minutes
As the credits closed on 2 Weeks in Another Town, I felt cheated out of a far better movie. There were threads of good ideas, and ones I wished the film’s guiding forces had focused priorities on, but instead we got a busy mess. The people at MGM who greenlighted the film probably expected another success like the previous The Bad and the Beautiful, but instead they got a big budget movie with the appeal of soggy cereal. Regardless of my take on the movie, the folks at Warner Archive have seen to it that the film looks as fresh as it most likely ever will with this brand new Blu-ray release. With a generally excellent visual transfer, decent audio, and colorful packaging design, this release will please any fans of the film out there thirsty to get their hands on the film once more.