Contempt (1963) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Screenwriter Paul Javal's marriage to his wife Camille disintegrates during movie production as she spends time with the producer. Layered conflicts between art and business ensue.

  • Paul Javal is a writer who is hired to make a script for a new movie about Ulysses more commercial, which is to be directed by Fritz Lang and produced by Jeremy Prokosch. But because he let his wife Camille drive with Prokosch and he is late, she believes, he uses her as a sort of present for Prokosch to get get a better payment. So the relationship ends.

  • Not satisfied with the script for his new movie, producer Jeremy Prokosch hires screenwriter Paul Javal to write a new one. Javal seems oblivious to Prokosch's obvious interest in Javal's pretty wife Camille. As Javal becomes ever more engrossed in writing the screenplay, Camille comes to resent him, thinking her husband is pushing her into the producer's arms for his own benefit. When they finally talk about it he flatly denies having done any such thing but for Camille, their relationship is irreparably damaged.

  • On Capri, an Italian crew makes a German film of Homer's "Odyssey"; Fritz Lang directs with American money. Jeremy Prokosch, the producer, with his sneer and his red Alfa Romeo, holds art films in contempt and hires writer Javal to help Lang commercialize the picture. Against this backdrop, we watch the breakup of Javal's marriage to Camille, a young former typist. It opens with the couple talking in bed, she asking for assurance that he finds her attractive. Later that day, he introduces her to Prokosch and, unawares, blunders unforgivably. The rest of the film portrays her, in their apartment and in public, expressing her hurt and change of heart and his slow grasp of the source of her contempt.

  • In Italy, the writer Paul Javal is hired for US$ 10,000.00 by the arrogant American producer Jeremy Prokosch to rewrite the screenplay of a commercial version of Ulysses and his Odyssey to be directed by Fritz Lang. Paul intends to use the money to quit the payments of the modern apartment where he lives with his wife and former typist Camille Javal. When Jeremy invites Camille and Paul to have a drink with him in his cottage, Paul asks Camille to go alone with Jeremy in his red Alfa Romeo, while he would go by taxi. He arrives later and finds Camille upset; his ambitious act destroys their marriage.


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