It's 1955, and Orson Welles is riding again—at least a taller, thinner Welles in a wheelchair, a prematurely washed-up director named Carson Drury who, 15 years after his glorious Hollywood debut, First Citizen, is clutching at the chance to jump-start his stalled career by reshooting the ending of the botched second film, The Imperial Albertsons, snatched from his hands by RKO back in 1942. Now that RKO itself is on the block, Drury, who's managed to purchase the Albertsons negative from the studio's new owner, tire magnate Ty McNally, will get his second chance—if he's not stopped by the saboteur who's swiped his shooting script, slashed the tires of his publicist and cameraman, and set his editing room afire. Worried because he's mortgaged his beloved Encino ranch to a slick developer to pay for the reshoot, Drury hires equally washed-up actor Scott Elliott, of the Hollywood Security Agency, and adjourns to bucolic Traynorville, Indiana, to scout locations and cozy up to McNally's buddy Gilbert Traynor, a potential angel for the troubled production. Out in God's country, though, it's a toss-up who's more hostile: the local KKK, Traynor's dragonish mother, or whoever ups the ante by starting to kill Drury's intimates. Not as resonant—despite the hammy presence of Carson Drury- -as Elliott's postwar debut (Kill Me Again, p. 488). But the mystery pays off at the end with enough sockdolagizing surprises for a month at the bijou.
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