In The Bad and the Beautiful, Kirk Douglas plays a tyrannical, manipulative producer fallen on hard times. To get back on his feet, he asks for help from three Hollywood giants whose careers he helped launch—a director (Barry Sullivan), an actress (Lana Turner), and a writer (Dick Powell). Unfortunately, they all hate him. Flashbacks explain why. Douglas had been close to all three at different points in his career: He and the director started out together making B-movies, he gave the wayward actress her first starring role, he turned the novelist into a successful screenwriter. Then in one way or another he stabbed each of them in the back, though not always deliberately. The script has a lot of backstage clichés, but Vincente Minnelli’s sharp, energetic direction, the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, and the topnotch performances—particularly Douglas and Gloria Grahame, who won an Oscar for her sweet role as the writer’s cheerful Southern wife—flesh out the clichés with cutting details and convincing bile. Caustic, starry-eyed, and slyly funny, The Bad and the Beautiful is a strange and skillful blend of “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere” pluck and poisonous cynicism, one of the great movies about making movies. —Bret Fetzer
Vincente Minnelli (February 28, 1903 – July 25, 1986) was a Hollywood director and stage director. His skilled integration of story, music, lighting, and design elements in a film made him the most critically respected crafter of American film musicals. With first wife Judy Garland, he was the father of Liza Minnelli.
Born Lester Anthony Minnelli in Chicago, Illinois, United States, Minnelli was the youngest surviving child of Mina Mary LaLouette Le Beau and Vincent Charles Minnelli. His father was musical conductor of Minnelli Brothers’ Tent Theater. Minnelli’s Chicago-born mother was of French Canadian descent and his paternal grandfather was from Sicily.
With his background in theatre, Minnelli was known as an auteur who always brought his stage experience to his films. The first movie that he directed, Cabin in the Sky (1943), was visibly influenced by the theater. Shortly after that, he directed Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), during which he befriended the film’s star… read more
For all the talk about it being a satire of Hollywood (& it is) in the end Douglas comes off as a kind of tortured ARTIST, which is hilarious because the films he makes (except maybe the Lewtonish Son of the Cat Man) arent films that look like Id ever want to see them. Anyway other films about show biz of that era like Sunset Boulevard or A Star is Born are far more disturbing. Grahame & Douglas are great though!
Very clever storyline of a corrupt studio executive told in flashback by 3 people who each has good reason to hate him. A stellar cast boasting the talent of Kirk Douglas; Lana Turner; Dick Powell; Gloria Grahame and Walter Pidgeon in addition to fine character actors under the expert direction of Vincente Minnelli ensures that the film never descends into a turgid melodrama.
The comprehensive retrospective runs through May 31.
And to think he’s appeared in nearly as many films.
BAMcinématek and the Locarno Film Festival take that word “Complete” seriously. The retrospective runs through November 2.
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… read review