A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.
Told in flashback form, the film traces the rise and fall of a tough, ambitious Hollywood producer Jonathan Shields, as seen through the eyes of various acquaintances, including a writer James Lee Bartlow, a star Georgia Lorrison and a director Fred Amiel. He is a hard-driving, ambitious man who ruthlessly uses everyone - including the writer, star and director - on the way to becoming one of Hollywood's top movie makers. Written by
The working title, "Tribute to a Bad Man", was later used as the title of an unrelated MGM feature (Tribute to a Bad Man (1956)). One reason for the title change was to add "beautiful", in consideration of the top-billed Lana Turner. See more »
When Jonathan is shining the flashlight at the girl up the roof, at one point he aims it away from her, but the light remains steadily focused on her legs. See more »
One thing that I've always wondered is why no one looks at Hollywood more negatively than Hollywood itself. But whatever the reason, "The Bad and the Beautiful" pulls no punches in looking at its topic. The movie portrays some people explaining how they used to be friends of producer Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas) but have since turned against him. There's the director whom Shields promised a directing job but betrayed him, the writer who lost his wife to Shields's actions, and the actress whom Shields drove to madness.
I thought that one of the most effective scenes in the movie was Kirk Douglas holding Lana Turner in his arms. Here he is, this overbearing, hostile character forced to almost coddle his gorgeous female star; it might be showing how he may seemingly have exalted her, but he remains in a higher position and is merely using her and sending her into insanity. And the scene of her driving the car while completely upset elaborates on this idea.
And then, there's the writer. He and his wife move from Virginia hoping to get really big in Hollywood...until tragedy strikes. It all goes to show the disaster inherent in any industry (of course, Douglas's character exacerbates any problem). But anyway, this is a formidable part of cinema history; a precursor to movies like "The Player". Also starring Dick Powell, Walter Pidgeon and Gloria Grahame (who won Best Supporting Actress).
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