Using four famous but unnamed individuals to symbolize a notorious era in American politics, as well as to explore the nature of despair, director Nicolas Roeg has created an intriguing drama.
Based on a play by Terry Johnson, the story begins with the blond Theresa Russell as a sex-goddess actress working on a scene over a subway grate, with her skirts billowing out in the updraft. A famous Professor from Princeton with white hair opens his door to the actress, who takes out a few props and goes through her rendition of the theory of relativity.
Between her theatrical mode of speech and his world of mathematics, there is a certain entente. Enter the ballplayer who is her husband (Gary Busey), in love but without a clue as to the actress' inner sadness.
Throw in the senator from Wisconsin (Tony Curtis) before whose sub-committee on Unamerican Activities the Professor has to appear, and the undercurrent of a societal witch-hunt that ruined many careers in Hollywood, in academics, in sports, and in politics is churned into the story.