Alison Lohman plays Karen O'Connor, who first met her showbiz heroes when she appeared on their polio telethon as the Miracle Girl, testifying to her cure. In the story's present-tense 1972, she's been assigned a biography of Vince Collins (Firth), the cool, gentlemanly half of the long-defunct club act. The book deal is worth a million dollars to Collins, who's retired and has never spoken publicly about the incident. He's by no means an easy interview, but the situation is complicated from the get-go by Karen's encounter with his former partner, notorious womanizer Lanny Morris (Bacon). Flying from Los Angeles to New York to meet with her publishers, she winds up sharing a dinner table with him and his faithful valet (David Hayman) in the first-class cabin -- a bit of period fun by production designer Phillip Barker, who capitalizes on visual opportunities as the story moves back and forth between 1957 and '72. Karen's one-night stand with Lanny ends badly.
With their mob bosses, hookers and the room-service waitress (Rachel Blanchard) who will never leave Vince and Lanny's room, the flashback sequences have a genuine feel. They also boast intense chemistry between Firth's seemingly upright, Tuinal-popping Vince and Bacon's loose-limbed Lanny, whose stage routine combines Dean Martin's drunken bad-boy shtick and Jerry Lewis's goofiness. But the latter-day overlay adds little except overheated attempts at greater meaning, and Lohman's breathy-voiced Brenda Starr wannabe, red tresses and all, never registers on the credibility scale. Starring Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, Alison Lohman, David Hayman and Rachel Blanchard. Directed and written by Atom Egoyan. Produced by Robert Lantos. A ThinkFilm release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 108 min