Dave Hirsch, a writer and an army veteran winds up in his small Indiana hometown, to the dismay of his respectable older brother. He meets and befriends various different characters and tries to figure out what to do with his life.
A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to rekindle 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
Several actors here had connections in future television series. Leo G. Carroll (the director) and Kathleen Freeman (his assistant) would play Cosmo Topper and his maid Katie on Topper the following year. Barbara Billingsley (costume designer) and Madge Blake (lady whose book is autographed) would portray June Cleaver and Mrs. Mondello on Leave It to Beaver. And Francis X. Bushman (funeral eulogist) would have his last screen appearance on two episodes of Batman, also featuring Madge Blake. 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 »
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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