It might not have done very well at the box office, but it's such a reflection of the times it was made in (late '70s). The sexuality is important, because they don't make films like this anymore. There's a lot of overacting in general which makes things seem a bit surreal, but that's Russell's style (Tommy, Lisztomania). Nureyev and Carol Kane acquit themselves quite well.
Beautiful production values and a sense of period that practically drips from the screen cannot lift this stilted deadweight into the realms of camp (try as it might with a misfiring Caron) let alone a satisfying drama. A shame, considering the promise of the story. A stolid lead, episodic structure and little emotional connection do not help and it's maybe best viewed as a series of vignettes on old Hollywood.
Far from Russell's best, but it's an extremely entertaining mess of a movie. Rudolf Nureyev is not the greatest actor, but brings an offbeat energy to the role to keep up with the over-the-top supporting cast. The plot is muddled, but with lavish production design, and plenty of memorably bizarre set pieces, those who appreciate Russell's excessive eccentricities will find this a very satisfying effort.