Cinema: Low & Inside

The Carpetbaggers, based on the baldly sleazy bestseller by Harold Robbins, is the kind of movie that you cannot put down. Like the book, it scores its cheap success as a swift, irresistibly vulgar compilation of all the racy stories anyone has ever heard about wicked old Hollywood of the '20s and '30s. The titillation is masked as the biography of a fresh young tycoon whose interests —airlines, moviemaking, starlets—bear certain obvious though wildly embellished parallels to the career of Howard Hughes.

When his father suffers a fatal stroke, Jonas Cord Jr. (George Peppard)...

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