A struggling young actress with a six-year-old daughter sets up housekeeping with a homeless black widow and her light-skinned eight-year-old daughter who rejects her mother by trying to pass for white.
In the post-war, the alcoholic and bitter veteran military and former writer Dave Hirsch returns from Chicago to his hometown Parkman, Indiana. He is followed by Ginnie Moorehead, a vulgar ... See full summary »
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 character of Shields is regarded as a mixture of producer David O. Selznick, Orson Welles and producer Val Lewton. Georgia, the alcoholic daughter of an iconic actor, is very clearly based on Diana Barrymore. Bartlow, the college professor turned best-selling author turned screenwriter, is thought to be based on Paul Green, a UNC professor who followed a similar career track. Gilbert Roland's appearance as "Gaucho" is seen as a self-parody; the Mexican-born actor, once a star in silent dramas, had just appeared as "The Cisco Kid" in a string of "B" westerns. See more »
Right after Amiel asks Shields if he intends to change his name, Shields is shown holding a stein with two hands. In the subsequent close shot, he only has one hand on the stein. See more »
I've told you a hundred times. I don't want to win awards. Give me pictures that end with a kiss and black ink on the books.
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Producer Jonathan Shields is in big trouble on a production and reaches out to three people he's befriended and betrayed in the past for help. All three are brought to Harry Pebbel's office where he makes a pitch for the help of each one. And we're told in flashback the dynamics of the relationships between Shields and each one.
One thing about Tinseltown, they've never been afraid to show the seamier side of movie-making. Kirk Douglas's Jonathan Shields is a not too thinly disguised version of David O. Selznick. The same drive, the same ambition, the same overwhelming ego that Selznick was legendary for is a part that was tailor made for Kirk Douglas.
The three betrayed people, director Fred Amiel(Barry Sullivan), star Georgia Lorrison(Lana Turner), and screenwriter James Lee Barlow(Dick Powell)all ring very true. One of the things I like about this film is that all three stories, each in itself, could be expanded into a film all it's own.
Lana Turner's role as the ersatz Diana Barrymore is not to hard to spot either. It's so much better here than the film based on her own book Too Much Too Soon. If that voice of Turner's actor father on those 78 rpms she's playing sounds familiar, it's that of Louis Calhern. Turner's was a life lived out all too well in the tabloids and she brings all of it to bear in playing Gerogia Lorrison.
Dick Powell, who was offered the lead as Jonathan Shields, opted to play tweedy professor turned screenwriter James Lee Barlow. This was Powell's next to last feature picture as an actor, it should have been the one he went out on. Powell was always ahead of the industry's cutting edge and he decided to concentrate more on directing and acting for the small screen.
Powell's segment includes Gloria Grahame as his flirty wife. Post World War II Hollywood, whenever it had a part for a tramp, first call Gloria Grahame. Here she responds with an Academy Award winning performance. She hasn't many scenes, but as was said in another MGM picture around that time, what there is is cherce.
I don't think there's ever been an actor who can go from zero to sixty on the emotional scale as quickly as Kirk Douglas. Check the scene when Lana Turner discovers how Douglas betrayed her. The intensity of his reaction alone is frightening and real. Douglas was also up for an Oscar, but it went that year to laconic Gary Cooper in High Noon.
Vincente Minelli put all the pieces together just right and it comes out great entertainment.
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