The overall message of this film: you cannot depict humanity in art, if you have not experienced what it is to interact with all of humanity.
Rossano plays "all of humanity". No, really -- he does! And to show you how talented he is, he managed to successfully play "all of humanity" by appearing for all of thirty seconds, not uttering an audible word of dialog -- and then disappearing. However, while we're deeply impressed by this truly astounding accomplishment on his part, we're still not convinced that it justifies spending a whopping $80 list price for the rest of the film.
Plot: A film cast and crew (some of whom are known by their real names) are making a film at a seaside resort, even though they've been abandoned by their investor. This group is really more of a symbiotic organism of brutality, disloyalty, sexual ambiguity, narcissism and self-pitying posturing, although they perceive themselves as artistic visionaries. They are not. They are spiritually lost, morally bankrupt, completely isolated and lacking any sense of direction or purpose, utterly contemptuous of anyone but themselves. The "insights" they perceive as brilliant and innovative are instead pedantic and tiresome; even ridiculous; their games are childlike and silly.
Although they are physically close to the collective unconscious/soul of humanity (the sea), they never dive into it or experience it - they mostly remain entombed in the empty hotel, where the only outsiders are the nearly invisible hotel staff who are ignored, bullied, abused - perceived as "things", rather than "people".
After the viewer has been forced to spend 90 minutes in this thoroughly distasteful, stagnant cesspool, "humanity" at last thankfully begins to intrude upon its peripheries like dawn's first light. Two events happen simultaneously at what appears to be the "wrap" party: the director of this wretched cast and crew is punched unconscious by having "the wind knocked out of him" - and Rossano (the only character, aside from the hotel staff, without a name or a voice, or even an explanation) appears in the foreground, chatting pleasantly with lead actor Eddie Constantine (yes, the same Eddie Constantine so thoroughly trashed in Simone Dubreuilh's review of La Contessa di Castiglione. Small world, isn't it?) They appear to be deep in an enjoyable conversation and pay no attention to the director, crumpling to the ground behind them. Representing "the rest of us" (i.e., humanity), Rossano's complete disregard for and disinterest in this petty tyrant (who has been, for the last 90 minutes, the "terrible deity" of their incestuous, brutal, heartless little world) telegraphs the film's ultimate message. He is the first bright, sane ray of sunlight finally penetrating a very dark, unhealthy place. (And what a lovely ray of sunlight he is, too!)
We'd be the first to admit that we may have read way, way too much into this film ... for all we know, Rossano may have been vacationing in the area, doing something really important, when Fassbinder grabbed him and tossed him into the set, uncredited, on a whim. Which would, we realize, make his appearance the most brilliant "whim" in film history. His appearance is so sudden and off-handed (and brief), if you didn't know to look for him, you might have even missed him. It's also possible that he participated more extensively in the original film and (as in Austerlitz) had the meat of his role lobbed off by an over-zealous editor.
But here's another one of those "questions we would have loved to ask": how on earth did he get pulled into this little mini-cameo??
Summary: beware of Beware of a Holy Whore, unless you're a passionate fan of Fassbinder's vision of life. $80 is a lot to spend for 30 seconds of relief, when Rossano Brazzi finally appears!