Bad and the Beautiful, The (1952)

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), directed by Vincente Minnelli.

The story of an ambitious film producer, told in flashbacks through the people who were once his partners: a director, an actress, and a writer. He was the sort to move mountains to get his films made and allowed others to do their best work, but he betrayed them all in the end. And they hate him.

Hollywood loves dark, acidic tales of movie-making (like all the salesmen I knew loved Tin Men (1987) and Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)). A lot of meaty parts in this one, maybe a bit overblown in spots. You hire Kirk Douglas for his intensity and sometimes you have to let him loose.

We have an interesting set of women: Lana Turner and Gloria Grahame are not always classically beautiful, but both have stressed, vulnerable appeal.

It's Elaine Stewart in a minor part who catches my eye. I wish we had gotten to see more of her work back then. She has a great moment as a slightly drunk woman on the staircase, calling her man to come upstairs:

Reportedly, she was in Playboy Magazine: September 1959.

Fans speculate as which real-life people correspond to the film characters:

We do have a Lewton homage: an early assignment for the producer/director team is the low-budget "Doom of the Cat Men", an obvious reference to Cat People (1942). Emulating Lewton, they decide that darkness, what you don't see, is scarier than men in cheap cat suits.

For the above we have a hilarious scene with uncredited Ned Glass as the wardrobe man. The shocked deadpan response of our heroes is priceless.

David Raksin score, Robert Surtees cinematography.