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STUDIO: Warner Bros.
MSRP: $19.98 RATED: NR
RUNNING TIME: 119 Minutes
• Feature-length documentary "Lana Turner … A Daughter’s Memoir"
• Scoring session music cues
• 2 Theatrical trailers
• Production Notes
At the time of its release in 1952, "The Bad And The Beautiful" was considered one of Warner Brothers’ best films. The winner of 5 Academy Awards (including a Best Supporting Actress award for Gloria Grahame), this is director Vincente Minnelli’s in-depth look into the inner workings of Hollywood.
Just in case you were expecting H.P. Lovecraft’s "From Beyond". They’re easy to mix up.
Told in flashback, this is the tale about fictional Hollywood producer Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), as told by the three people who had once worked with him, only to be betrayed by the unscrupulous mogul.
There is successful director Fred Amiel (Barry Sullivan), a man who, 18 years earlier, had met Shields at the funeral for his father. It turns out that all of the mourners (Amiel included) are paid performers, as Shields’ father had been friendless. Jonathan Shields is an aspiring producer, with visions of becoming the most powerful man in all of Hollywood. Amiel, at that time, is an assistant director and part time stunt man on B-westerns who wishes to become a director. The two strike up an immediate friendship and are soon hired by small-time producer Harry Pebble (Walter Pidgeon). They have mediocre success until the delightfully titled The Doom Of The Catman becomes a hit. From there on, the two continue to churn out B pictures, with Amiel directing and Shields producing.
The rift between the friends occurs over the filming of an epic book that was deemed "unfilmable". I won’t spoil the particulars, but it really is a low thing Shields pulls on his so-called friend, which makes you understand why Amiel now despises Shields.
Upon hearing about the proposed Disney On Ice® version of "Motel Hell", little Carla O’Troubles takes the time to write her thoughts on the subject.
The second story is told from the perspective of famous actress Georgia Lorrison (Lana Turner). She is the alcoholic daughter of an old movie star, who was in the employment of Shields’ father at one time. Georgia is discovered by Shields, sobered up, and given a screen test for the upcoming epic that caused the rift between Shields and Amiel, The Faraway Mountain. Her confidence is shattered, however, when she over hears the negative remarks made about her test, and she hits the bottle again. Determined to keep her sober, and aware of her talent (not to mention her beauty), Shields signs her to a contract anyway and casts her in the picture. Everything is going well, with pre-production moving along swiftly, and Shields helping Georgia with her character preparation. During this time, a romance between the two develops, and they fall in love with each other (or so it seems).
Once the picture is released, it becomes a smash hit, making an overnight star out of Georgia Lorrison, and sending Shields up into the top tier of Hollywood producers. Whatever he wants, he gets, and Georgia discovers this the hard way when, after a time, Jonathan also betrays her. As before with Fred Amiel, we come to understand her dislike of Shields, and we also witness another dent in the previously solid character of the powerful producer.
Finally, there is gifted novelist, and Pulitzer Prize winning author James Lee Bartlow (Dick Powell), who was swayed by Shields into adapting a screenplay from his first novel, which had become a big seller. Shields flies Bartlow and his wife Rosemary (Gloria Grahame, who won an Oscar for this role) to California, so that the producer can be near the writer as he begins to write the screenplay. As before with the other two, Shields ends up betraying Bartlow as well, and in a much more damaging way, although it doesn’t seem to be out of malice. It was just bad luck, but it ended that friendship nonetheless.
"You want to speak to Bullet Mc-who?"
"The Bad And The Beautiful" is an excellent film, rich in character development and wonderfully acted. Douglas was nominated for his portrayal of Jonathan Shields, and rightly so. It is one of my favorite characterizations of his, and his power and intensity comes across well as the conniving Shields.
Lana Turner is gorgeous as Georgia Lorrison, the most sought-after actress in Hollywood. It is a role she knows well, as she was also one of the most sought-after actresses at the time. Considered at one time as just a pretty face (did I mention this chick was hot?), she began to display the acting ability that a few people had known about since her discovery at an ice cream parlor in Beverly Hills years before. It’s a fine performance, and one that is considered among her best.
Barry Sullivan as director Fred Amiel is another good performance, though not on par with Douglas’s or Turner’s, but still very good. He does a fine job of playing the early friend to Shields, later developing into the master auteur. Walter Pidgeon is his usually solid self as Shields’ assistant and one-time employer Harry Pebble, a man who sticks with the embattled producer even when he has alienated most of Hollywood and, it is he who assembles the others at the start of the film.
"Woman, you try my patience. I need to speak to Bullet McFearbringer about my fresh delivery of … ah, forget it!"
All in all, this is a wonderful old movie that is a joy to watch. My only gripe with it is over the ending, which I felt was too quick and too unresolved for my liking. Still, it does little to damage my opinion of this film.
It is also a challenge to try and figure out exactly who all of the characters were based on. Did I see some references to David O. Selznig, Louis B. Meyer, Carol Lombard et al in this picture? Could be, but then, you might see something different when you see it.
Try it. You won’t be disappointed.
9.1 out of 10
"Madame, I wish to congratulate you on your fine coffee making abilities, as well as your poster for the Charlie Sheen/Chris Tucker vehicle, ‘Money Talks‘."
Shot in Black and White, this has a good picture quality. The bold picture sharpness and good use of lighting show up well. It is presented in Standard Version (full screen).
9.0 out of 10
This was filmed in 1952, so don’t expect too much here and, although the musical cues sound nice, there’s nothing here worth noting.
6.0 out of 10
Like all struggling young actors, Kirk Douglas had to pay his dues.
The extras are found on the other side of the disc (side B), and they’re not bad. The lack of a commentary hurts and that would have been welcomed, even if it were just a film historian. It would have been nice to know just who the characters were modeled after.
The Turner Classic Movies documentary, Lana Turner… A Daughter’s Memoir is great. It is an in-depth, feature length look into the life and times of Lana Turner, as told by her only daughter and narrated by Robert Wagner. Touching, interesting, insightful and harrowing, it is a fairly concise telling of the life of her life.
Lana Turner, who failed in her attempts to become a police sketch artist, nevertheless was renowned for her ability to draw Rollie Fingers at random.
The music cues are isolated sections of the score, complete with some studio chatter, and recorded during the scoring of the picture. It doesn’t tell you much about how the film was scored, but it’s a nice addition nevertheless.
The real clunker is the trailer part of the disc. We don’t even get the preview for this film, but rather one from the un-official sequel Two Weeks In Another Town, which just happens to star Kirk Douglas and is directed by Vincente Minnelli. Blah.
8.0 out of 10
"That’s right, Joe, stand just like this. We’re going to fire you into orbit to see if cats really DO always land on their feet."
Not good, really. I’m not sure if this is the original poster (it probably is one of them), but I don’t fancy it too much. A precursor to the horrid "floating heads" posters we get today, this is just as bland. And, to make matters worse, it’s in a snapper case!
6.0 out of 10
Overall: 8.5 out of 10