Movies Ruined His Life
After suffering a mental breakdown, former Hollywood make up artist B.J. Lang (Mickey Rooney) now spends his time roaming around his warehouse, surrounded by the mannequins and props which he has collected over a lifetime of working in the industry. But he also talks to them whilst putting on make up and rambles on about the past and his work he did with the stars. But B.J. is not alone as he has a woman held prisoner there who he calls Carlotta (Luana Anders) and forces her to participate in his fantasies.
I reckon making "The Manipulator" must have been a very scary experience on several levels for Mickey Rooney. On one hand he must have wondered what the hell had happened to his career if he had to appear in such strange, experimental movies as this. On the other maybe it felt a little close to home as after a lifetime involved in the movie business maybe he could relate to the character of B.J. and feared ending up a man living in his memories of the industry. In truth if it wasn't for the respect that Mickey Rooney earned as an actor and that possible connection "The Manipulator" would be unwatchable.
Yes I did say unwatchable because beyond Rooney's performance "The Manipulator" is just freaking strange and consists of Mr. Lang living in his own world whilst Carlotta constantly shouts out "Mr. Laaaaaaaang". Oh and then Keenan Wynn shows up as a homeless guy for a few minutes. That is it so all you have is the strange world of B.J. Lang and it isn't entertaining watching flashbacks to the past and strange memories of his life.
What this all boils down to is that "The Manipulator" is a strange movie which in truth could have worked with its storyline of someone who has been in the movie industry all their life having a nervous breakdown and then ending up living in the past. But there is no storyline to this and if it wasn't for Mickey Rooney giving it his all "The manipulator" would have ended up unwatchable.