|"It's your mom. She says it's time|
to put down the bourbon and come home."
For all the envy and nostalgia, the golden age of Hollywood was paved with broken promises. Like many things, it was built with blood, sweat, and tears, yet it demanded more. Many notoriously lost their dignity, virginity, and even their lives to the silver screen machine. It became a business that thrived on its ability to buy respect and friendship, only to kick it to the curb a day later. While films like Sunset Boulevard and Day of the Locust portray the industry as a whole, The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) gives it a name and a face. Kirk Douglas' Academy Award nominated performance as fame obsessed producer Jonathan Shields is a behind the scenes look at just one of the many men who manipulated countless talents in search of making it big in Hollywood.
Directed by Vincente Minnelli during his divorce to wife Judy Garland (yes, he is the father of Liza Minnelli), Minnelli still incorporated the comedic undertones that made his musicals so successful. While not as dark as Sunset or Locust, the lighter approach does give the victim scenes a more serious tone by comparison, and the lighthearted nature of the film creates an easy like-ability for its characters. Their eventual suffering thus holds a deeper resentment for viewers as a result. Told in flashback, the film focuses on three up and coming talents that all share the same Hollywood ambition. Lana Turner plays Georgia Lorrison, an alcoholic bit part actress living under the shadow of her famous deceased father. Barry Sullivan stars as Fred Amiel, a director who inspires to break free from the lower budget B movie scene. And Dick Powell portrays James Lee Bartlow, a reluctant author who eventually agrees to write the screenplay to his best selling novel. All cross paths with Shields as he recruits each and uses their talents to better his position in the industry.
|"I know how to pick up chicks."|
-Lee L. Lind