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The Bad and the Beautiful

The Bad and the Beautiful(1953)

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teaser The Bad and the Beautiful (1953)

SYNOPSIS

Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), an unscrupulous producer, takes his colleagues to new heights professionally while using and abusing them on a personal level. His studio on the brink of bankruptcy, Shields tries to lure back the star, director and writer he betrayed most brutally. Will they desert him or give him one last shot at glory -- and another chance to break their hearts? With plot elements lifted from Hollywood gossip and real life incidents, The Bad and the Beautiful has kept audiences guessing for decades about the inspirations for its twisted tale of the dream capital's seamier side.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Producer: John Houseman
Screenplay: Charles Schnee
Based on a story by George Bradshaw
Cinematography: Robert Surtees
Editing: Conrad A. Nervig
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Edward Carfagno
Music: David Raksin
Cast: Lana Turner (Georgia Lorrison), Kirk Douglas (Jonathan Shields), Walter Pidgeon (Harry Pebbel), Dick Powell (James Lee Bartlow), Barry Sullivan (Fred Amiell), Gloria Grahame (Rosemary Bartlow), Gilbert Roland (Victor "Gaucho" Ribera), Leo G. Carroll (Henry Whitfield), Vanessa Brown (Kay Amiell), Paul Stewart (Syd Murphy), Elaine Stewart (Lila), Ivan Triesault (Von Ellstein), Kathleen Freeman (Miss March), Steve Forrest (Leading Man), Francis X. Bushman (Eulogist), Madge Blake (Mrs. Rosser), Kaaren Verne (Rosa), Bess Flowers (Joe's Friend at Party), Louis Calhern (Voice on the Recording), Barbara Billingsley (Evelyn Lucien), Franklyn Farnum (Assistant on Set), Ned Glass (Wardrobe Man), Dabbs Greer (Studio Lighting Technician), May McAvoy (Pebbel's Secretary).
BW-118m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

Why THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL is Essential

Made just two years after Sunset Boulevard (1950), The Bad and the Beautiful helped spearhead a '50s re-examination of Hollywood on screen. Where earlier films had dealt with filmmaking from a comic or romantic perspective, these two movies pointed the way toward more critical and vitriolic views of the movie capital.

After years of musicals and comedies, The Bad and the Beautiful presented director Vincente Minnelli the first chance to explore one of his central themes, the frustration of dreams, in a serious context.

Although Minnelli had earlier worked on the failed melodrama Undercurrent (1946), The Bad and the Beautiful brought him his first success in a genre that would often eclipse his more famous musicals in terms of critical praise and analysis. With later melodramas such as Some Came Running (1958) and Home from the Hill (1960), he would earn a place as one of the screen's leading auteurs.

The film was also the first in which Minnelli and producer John Houseman explored the Freudian concept that art could be used as a release for repressed psychic energy. They would follow it with The Cobweb (1955), Lust for Life (1956) and Two Weeks in Another Town (1962).

The film's five Oscars® remain a record for a movie not nominated for Best Picture.

The Bad and the Beautiful marked the start of a three-film partnership between Minnelli and actor Kirk Douglas. They would also join forces for Lust for Life, arguably Douglas' best performance, and Two Weeks in Another Town.

by Frank Miller

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teaser The Bad and the Beautiful (1953)

The success of The Bad and the Beautiful pointed the way to other trenchant views of Hollywood life, including the 1954 re-make of A Star Is Born, The Barefoot Contessa (1954) and The Big Knife (1955).

Contemporary critics have added other names and incidents to the speculation about inspirations for The Bad and the Beautiful. Producer David O. Selznick's arguments with George Cukor during the filming of Gone with the Wind (1939) have been compared to Jonathan Shields' (Kirk Douglas) arguments with his director during the making of The Proud Land. Others have suggested the German director, Von Ellstein, is modeled on Edward Von Stroheim and writer James Lee Bartlow is inspired by William Faulkner.

In 1962, producer John Houseman, director Vincente Minnelli and Douglas reunited in an attempt to do for international filmmaking what The Bad and the Beautiful had done for Hollywood. Two Weeks in Another Town, although poorly reviewed at the time, has become a favorite of Minnelli enthusiasts. Scenes from The Bad and the Beautiful turn up in the film when the characters view a movie in a screening room.

The film's title was spoofed in the 1974 DePatie-Freleng cartoon The Badge and the Beautiful.

by Frank Miller

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teaser The Bad and the Beautiful (1953)

Like her character in The Bad and the Beautiful, Lana Turner began her Hollywood career as an extra.

Although producer John Houseman minimized comparisons to Citizen Kane (1941) in publicity for The Bad and the Beautiful, there are three clear references to the earlier film. Movie mogul Harry Pebbel (Walter Pidgeon) refers to producer Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas) as "genius boy," a reference to Welles' "boy wonder" nickname. Actor Paul Stewart, who played the butler in Kane, has a small role. During the filming of Georgia Lorrison's (Lana Turner) screen test, the camera pulls back from the scene she is shooting to show the rest of the sound stage, gradually moving upwards to show a lighting technician clearly admiring her performance. This is a clear reference to the presentation of the opera Salambo in Citizen Kane, in which a similar camera move ends with lighting technicians assessing the performance of Kane's wife below (they give her a big thumbs down).

Because of the lengthy time period covered by the film, Kirk Douglas had an unusually large wardrobe for a male star -- 73 pieces.

The Doom of the Cat Men, the horror film that secures Jonathan Shields' reputation, was modeled on Cat People (1942), the moody horror film that established former David O. Selznick associate Val Lewton as a major producer at RKO. Like Lewton, Shields and his director (Barry Sullivan) used suggestion to turn a lurid concept into an atmospheric hit.

Although Georgia Lorrison's actor-father, George Lorrison, never appears in the film, actor Louis Calhern provided the voice for Lorrison's recordings of Shakespeare. He also posed for photographs of the character.

Turner's own makeup man, Del Armstrong; hairdresser, Helen Young; and stand-in, Allyce May play similar roles in the film.

During the shooting of The Bad and the Beautiful, Turner's boyfriend Fernando Lamas refused to go on location for the MGM film Sombrero (1953) because the jealous actor didn't want to leave the actress alone. The studio put him on suspension and replaced him with Ricardo Montalban.

Gloria Grahame learned the Southern accent required by her role by studying with African-American disc jockey Joe Adams. To keep the dialect consistent, she used it around the clock during filming.

Although The Bad and the Beautiful was one of the most famous films made by both Turner and Grahame, they never appear on screen together. Some Hollywood insiders suggest they were deliberately kept apart for fear of making Turner jealous.

Former silent screen star Francis X. Bushman made his first MGM appearance since Thoroughbreds Don't Cry (1937) as the eulogist in The Bad and the Beautiful. The reason for the long break, he told Douglas, was because of a visit Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM, paid him backstage after a play. When asked to wait until Bushman had removed his makeup, Mayer stalked off, swearing the actor would never work at MGM again.

The day before filming started director Vincente Minnelli finalized his divorce from Judy Garland. He would later say the picture got him through that emotional time. On the last day of shooting, June 4, 1952, Garland married Sid Luft.

The film's German title was Die Stadt der Illusionen ("The City of the Illusions"), while in France it was called Les Ensorceles ("The Bewitchers").

The film's original title, Tribute to a Bad Man, would resurface in 1956 as the title of an MGM Western starring James Cagney.

The day after the Academy Awards® ceremony, MGM production head Dore Schary sent producer John Houseman a telegram: "My personal congratulations to you for a wonderful job. You many not have got an Oscar[®] of your own but you certainly own a little hunk of all the ones that were handed out" (Schary quoted in Houseman, Front and Center).

Memorable Quotes from THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

"He wasn't a heel. He was the heel....But he made great pictures! So will I." -- Kirk Douglas, as Jonathan Shields, eulogizing his father.

"I'm gonna ram the name Shields down their throats." -- Douglas, as Jonathan Shields, on reclaiming the family name.

"If you dream, dream big." -- Douglas, as Shields.

"When I work on a picture, it's like romancing a girl. You see her, you want her, you go after her. The big moment. Then, the let-down, every time, every picture, the after-picture blues." -- Douglas.

"I don't want to win awards. I want to make pictures that end with a kiss and black ink on the books." -- Walter Pidgeon, as Harry Pebbel, explaining his production philosophy.

"Oh, who's kidding who at four in the morning?" -- Lana Turner, as Georgia Lorrison, accusing Douglas of ulterior motives.

"You're a Lorrison, all right. Because he was a drunk, you're a drunk. Because he loved women, you're a tramp. But you forgot one thing. He did it with style!" -- Douglas, trying to talk some sense into Turner, as Georgia Lorrison.

"The test was atrocious, but bad as it was, it proved one thing. When you're on the screen, no matter who you're with, what you're doing, the audience is looking at you. That's star quality." -- Douglas, assessing Turner, as Georgia.

"Georgia, love is for the very young."
"For the very young. I like that. Would you marry me, Jonathan?"
"Not even a little bit." -- Douglas, turning down a proposal from Turner.

"Harry, shut your penny-pinching mouth and build him his platform!" -- Douglas, butting heads with Pidgeon, as Harry Pebbel.

"There are no great men, buster! There's only men!" -- Elaine Stewart, as Lila, explaining a starlet's view of life.

"I forgot to tell you, Georgia. I saw the picture -- thought you were swell." -- Stewart, as Lila, after Turner catches her spending the night with Douglas.

"Maybe I like to be cheap once in a while. Maybe everybody does, or don't you remember? Get that look off your face! Who gave you the right to dig into me and turn me inside out and decide what I'm like. How do you know how I feel about you, how deep it goes? Maybe I don't want anybody to own me. You or anybody. Get out! Get out! Get out!" -- Douglas, rejecting Turner.

"I dare say I am getting too big for my britches."
"They're pretty britches."
"James Lee, you have a very dirty mind, I'm happy to say." -- Gloria Grahame, as Rosemary Bartlow, making up after a fight with husband Dick Powell, as James Lee Bartlow.

"And don't you worry, Mr. Shields, I won't be a nuisance." -- Grahame, as Rosemary Bartlow, proving herself no prophet.

"Jonathan is more than a man. He's an experience, and he's habit-forming. If they could ever bottle him, he'd out-sell Ginger Ale." -- Turner, warning Powell, as James Lee Bartlow, about Douglas.

"You know, when they list the ten best pictures ever made, there are always two or three of his on the list. And I was with him when he made them." -- Pidgeon, as Pebbel, assessing Shield's career.

"Don't worry. Some of the best movies are made by people working together who hate each other's guts." -- Douglas.

Compiled by Frank Miller

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teaser The Bad and the Beautiful (1953)

The George Bradshaw short story on which The Bad and the Beautiful was based -- "Memorial to a Bad Man" (Ladies Home Journal, February 1951) -- was actually about the theatre, with the producer modeled on Broadway legend Jed Harris. The film's producer, John Houseman, initially rejected the idea because he was tired of theatre stories (All About Eve (1950) was still fresh in people's minds and seemed the definitive backstage drama). Then he realized the story would seem more accessible and contemporary if he changed the setting to Hollywood. With the industry in decline, he thought the time was ripe for a story about a producer from the golden days facing a new era. He also found a parallel between the story's multiple flashbacks and the most famous film on which he had worked, Citizen Kane (1941).

Bradshaw's story already had the film's structure, in which past associates of an unscrupulous producer think back on the ways he brought them to greatness while betraying them.

When he pitched the idea to MGM production head Dore Schary, Houseman suggested having the screenplay done by Charles Schnee, who had worked with them on They Live by Night (1948) and had been involved with Houseman and Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre in New York.

MGM paid $11,500 for the rights to "Memorial to a Bad Man" and a similar Bradshaw story, "Of Good and Evil" (Cosmopolitan, February 1948).

During story conferences, Schnee and Houseman decided to cut the flashbacks to three and spread out the story to mirror changes in the film industry over the past decades. They also departed from the story, which had the flashbacks take place during a reading of the producer's will, in which he asks past associates to collaborate on one last production in his memory. Instead, they had an actress, director and writer reunited by a request that they return to work for the producer who had made their careers.

As the story developed, Houseman was very aware of parallels between the plot and some real Hollywood lives. In particular, the producer fighting to build a career in the shadow of his father was similar to independent producer David O. Selznick. The alcoholic leading lady living in the shadow of her late father, himself an acting legend, was clearly inspired by Diana Barrymore and her relationship to her father John. And the writer married to a fiery Southern belle could easily be linked to F. Scott Fitzgerald and his tempestuous wife, Zelda.

After hits with the comedy Father of the Bride (1950) and the musical An American in Paris (1951), Vincente Minnelli was Houseman's first choice to direct.

The Bad and the Beautiful was originally planned as a small picture with a budget of just over $1 million. When the script and production team proved a draw to bigger names, however, the budget quickly rose and it became a top-of-the-line production.

Although MGM executives suggested contract star Robert Taylor to play producer Jonathan Shields, Houseman had already sent a script to Kirk Douglas, the only actor he thought could capture the character's temperament and charm. According to Douglas, Clark Gable had turned down the role of Shields.

Minnelli and Houseman first offered the role of the film director whose career is launched by Jonathan Shields to Dick Powell. After reading the script, however, Powell asked to play writer James Lee Bartlow, claiming he identified with that role more. The writer's role had already been assigned to studio contract player Barry Sullivan, so he was moved into the director's role.

Minnelli had previously lost out on two chances to work with Lana Turner. He had wanted to cast her in his film version of Madame Bovary (1949), but acceded to executive demands that he use an established dramatic actress like Jennifer Jones. He also was briefly assigned to direct her in A Life of Her Own (1950) before the project went to George Cukor.

Houseman and Minnelli were considering a character actor from the studio's supporting ranks for the role of producer Harry Pebbel when Walter Pidgeon put in a bid for the role. When told he seemed too suave and debonair to play the seedy producer, he showed up in Minnelli's office wearing a crew-cut wig and a poorly fitted suit and won the role.

Dore Schary saw a lot of himself in the characterization of the writer, which led him to suggest Gloria Grahame to play the character's wife, since the actress resembled Schary's wife, Miriam Svet.

Minnelli suggested having Lana Turner play scenes from MGM's 1935 version of Anna Karenina and modeling the directors, eventually played by Leo G. Carroll and Ivan Triesault, on Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang, respectively.

The film's original title was Tribute to a Bad Man.

by Frank Miller

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teaser The Bad and the Beautiful (1953)

The filming of The Bad and the Beautiful began on April 9, 1952.

All of the scenes set at Jonathan Shields' studio were shot on the MGM lot, using the studio's actual facilities. In addition to studio sets, The Bad and the Beautiful would also feature location shots of the Beverly Hills Hotel and of Lake Arrowhead.

In conferences with Kirk Douglas, director Vincente Minnelli suggested he downplay his character's explosive side and focus on charm instead. Douglas agreed, but throughout shooting whenever he finished a scene, he would say, "I was very charming in that scene, wasn't I?" After The Bad and the Beautiful was completed, Douglas sent Minnelli a note complimenting him for "[getting] out of me a much more quiet quality than I have ever been able to get in any picture" (Douglas quoted in Minnelli, I Remember It Well).

Concerned about Lana Turner's insecurities and talk of her limited acting abilities, Minnelli got her through her first scene by telling her that every retake was the result of somebody else's problem. Through gentle coaching he got a strong performance out of her while also keeping her confidence intact.

Minnelli was so impressed by Ned Glass' performance as the wardrobe man trying to foist his cat suits on Kirk Douglas and Barry Sullivan for their first film, The Doom of the Cat Men, he kept expanding his role. After two days of shooting, he still needed a close-up of Glass, but the next day the actor did not show up. Having failed to do a thorough background check before shooting started, MGM had hired Glass without realizing he had been blacklisted. The night before his final shot, studio security had called to inform him he would not be allowed on the lot. After a hasty conference with studio executives, MGM decided they would rather ignore the blacklist than pay the $20,000 to $30,000 it would require to re-shoot the key scene.

Minnelli wanted the music for the long, silent scene in which Lana Turner runs from her dressing room through a deserted sound stage, composed before shooting. That way he could match his blocking and camera movements to the score.

Realizing the film's shooting title, Tribute to a Bad Man, could lead audiences to expect a Western, Houseman put out a call for new title suggestions. MGM Vice President in Charge of Publicity Howard Deitz quickly sent back The Bad and the Beautiful, an acknowledged bow to F. Scott Fitzgerald's story "The Beautiful and the Damned." Houseman and Schnee did not like that title which sounded like a cheap paperback novel, but MGM production head Dore Schary overruled them.

The scene in which Turner drives off into the rainy night after discovering that Douglas has been cheating on her was so complicated it took weeks after she had finished the rest of her scenes before she got to film it. Minnelli put the car's interior on a turntable, then choreographed the cameras moves in and out as the turntable shifted position. He then instructed Turner to build her emotions to hysteria throughout the complicated take. It took a day to get all the angles Minnelli wanted, by which time Turner truly was hysterical. The scene was one of the most memorable in The Bad and the Beautiful.

Composer David Raksin had scored a huge hit with the theme song for the film Laura (1944) but resented the fact that the lyricist received an equal share of the profits. As a result, he insisted that the love theme from The Bad and the Beautiful be released strictly as an instrumental. It became a hit, but not at the same high level of his theme for the earlier film.

The filming of The Bad and the Beautiful finished on June 4, 1952, with Houseman bringing the film in on a tight budget of $1,558,263.

To somewhat soften the depiction of Douglas' character, Minnelli cut a scene in which he accepts the Best Picture Oscar® for the film whose idea he had stolen from his best friend. In the scene, Shields devotes most of his speech to his late father, then makes only a brief mention of his friend at the end.

Stories about the film's basis in fact were so strong that independent producer David O. Selznick asked one of his lawyers to view the film and let him know if it contained anything libelous about him. Despite the parallels between Selznick's life and that of the father-obsessed independent producer played by Douglas, the lawyer determined that there were no grounds for a lawsuit.

Although preview audiences were generally positive about The Bad and the Beautiful, many felt it was too long, prompting MGM to cut almost 12 minutes, including shots of Douglas in Paris as he phones to ask his former friends to work on his next film and a scene in which Turner and Powell meet for the first time.

Publicity for The Bad and the Beautiful focused on the romance between Douglas and Turner's characters. Taglines included "I took you out of the gutter...I can fling you back!" and "The story of a blonde who wanted to go places, and a brute who got her there -- the hard way!"

The Bad and the Beautiful had its New York premiere at the Radio City Music Hall on January 15, 1953.

by Frank Miller

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teaser The Bad and the Beautiful (1953)

The Bad and the Beautiful (1953) is probably the quintessential "Hollywood according to Hollywood" film; so it's appropriate that it stars the quintessential movie star - Lana Turner. Turner plays Georgia Lorrison, the trampy, alcoholic daughter of a legendary actor. She's transformed into a compelling actress by producer Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), himself a scion of tarnished Hollywood royalty. Georgia is one of three friends, including a director (Barry Sullivan) and a screenwriter (Dick Powell), betrayed by Shields in his obsessive and ruthless climb to the top.

The source material for The Bad and the Beautiful was a magazine story about an unscrupulous Broadway director. Producer John Houseman found the characters trite, but saw possibilities if the plot were revised to focus on Hollywood. Screenwriter Charles Schnee invented new characters, and Houseman and Director Vincente Minnelli contributed ideas based on real-life Hollywood personalities. Jonathan Shields is obviously inspired by Gone with the Wind (1939) producer David O. Selznick, with a nod to RKO studio B-movie producer Val Lewton, who made Cat People (1942). The father-obsessed Georgia is partly John Barrymore's star-crossed daughter Diana, and, says Houseman in his memoirs, "fragments of Gardner and Fontaine - not to mention Lana Turner, who came to play her." Latin lover Gilbert Roland was more or less playing himself as Latin lover "Gaucho." The budget-conscious studio manager played by Walter Pidgeon was based on Harry Rapf, the head of the MGM B-movie unit. The German director suggests Fritz Lang, and the British one, Hitchcock.

In casting Jonathan, Minnelli and Houseman rejected aging MGM stars like Robert Taylor and Clark Gable, and chose Kirk Douglas. Minnelli liked his powerful on-screen presence, but directed him not to play too intensely, knowing that would be self-evident. Instead, Minnelli told Douglas to play it for charm. Frequently during filming, Douglas would turn to Minnelli and say, "I was very charming in that scene, wasn't I?"

Houseman and Minnelli both felt that Lana Turner's acting ability had been underrated, and that she would be a natural as an insecure movie star. The first scene Turner had to play was a difficult one, where only her legs are seen dangling from a railing, and she had to act drunk with only her voice. Minnelli kept inventing "technical problems" to coax more takes from her, until he got what he wanted. The ruse clearly worked, because when Turner told the story in her autobiography, she referred to those very technical problems that forced take after take. Minnelli worked with Turner, much as Jonathan Shields worked with Georgia, helping her mold her performance. By the time she was to do the climactic scene of hysteria in the car, Turner was so confident that she kept her concentration throughout the technically complex scene, and her performance was frighteningly real.

Minnelli shot all over the MGM lot, capturing the eeriness and beauty of deserted soundstages and piles of props. Since the script was talky, he compensated with fluid, constantly moving camerawork, one of his trademarks. For Turner's breakdown, he devised a special turntable, which spun the car while the camera remained steady, zooming in and out to capture her reactions. Minnelli later said he choreographed the scene as carefully as if he were photographing a ballet.

The Bad and the Beautiful was a critical and commercial success. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, and won five - for Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume design, and Best Supporting actress (Gloria Grahame). Only Kirk Douglas, nominated for Best Actor, lost to Gary Cooper in High Noon (1952).

Rich in the details of moviemaking, visually inventive, superbly scripted and acted, The Bad and the Beautiful is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the end of Hollywood's Golden Era. In his analysis of Minnelli's films, Directed by Vincente Minnelli, Stephen Harvey explains the enduring seductiveness of the film: "The Bad and the Beautiful aspires neither to high art nor newsreel naturalism. By its own example, this black-and-white fantasia celebrates the energy and showmanship that made the studio system flourish."

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Producer: John Houseman
Screenplay: Charles Schnee, based on a story by George Bradshaw
Editor: Conrad A. Nervig
Cinematography: Robert Surtees
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Edward Carfagno; set decorator, Edwin B. Willis, Keogh Gleason
Music: David Raksin
Principal Cast: Lana Turner (Georgia Lorrison), Kirk Douglas (Jonathan Shields), Walter Pidgeon (Harry Pebbel), Dick Powell (James Lee Bartlow), Barry Sullivan (Fred Amiel), Gloria Grahame (Rosemary Bartlow), Gilbert Roland (Victor "Gaucho" Ribera).
BW-118m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video.

by Margarita Landazuri

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teaser The Bad and the Beautiful (1953)

AWARDS & HONORS

The National Board of Review voted The Bad and the Beautiful the seventh best film of 1952.

Both Gloria Grahame and Gilbert Roland were nominated for Golden Globes in the supporting categories. She lost to Katy Jurado in High Noon and he lost to Millard Mitchell in My Six Convicts, neither of whom would receive Oscar® nominations.

Although planned for a January 1953 general release, MGM rushed The Bad and the Beautiful into Los Angeles theatres in December 1952 to qualify for the Academy Awards®. The move paid off, as the film won Oscar® nominations for Best Actor (Kirk Douglas), Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Gloria Grahame), Best Black and White Cinematography, Best Black and White Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Black and White Costume Design.

The Bad and the Beautiful ended up the big winner on Oscar® night, winning five awards. Douglas was the only nominee not honored.

The film was nominated for the British Academy Award for Best Film From Any Source.

The Bad and the Beautiful was voted a place on the National Film Registry in 2002.

The Critics Corner: THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

The Bad and the Beautiful brought in international rentals of $3,373,000, posting net profits of $484,000.

"An all-star cast, well-chosen and a strong story with recognizable elements of drama, melodrama and romance, plus a few sardonic touches provide exploitable hinges on which the film can be ballyhooed." -- Brog., Variety

"The widely circulated notion that there are monsters in Hollywood is given unqualified endorsement with no reservations and no holds barred. The hero of this relentless saga is a Hollywood producer who is a heel. And the fine job of drawing and quartering him that is done in the course of two hours by a top staff of MGM dissectors is enough to make the blood run cold...Minnelli's craftsmanship and Houseman's skill as a producer are evident in the slickness of the film. But certainly they and all the others who worked on it know much more about the subject of Hollywood egos and championship chumps than is revealed in this sardonic scan of Hollywood." -- Bosley Crowther, New York Times

"Minnelli has captured the eerie quality of an empty sound stage at night, the sterilized look of a writer's office on the lot, the dull meaninglessness of a noisy cocktail party attended by picture people. As an exhibition of know-how in picture-making The Bad and the Beautiful is first rate, although every now and then Charles Schnee's screenplay goes in for dubious melodrama." -- Hollis Alpert, Saturday Review"It's a piquant example of what it purports to expose -- luxurious exhibitionism -- and the course of what is described as a 'rat race' to success is the softest turf ever. The structure is all too reminiscent of Citizen Kane [1941], and there is the "Rosebud" of Douglas' ill-defined Oedipal confusion, but there are also flashy, entertaining scenes and incidents derived from a number of famous careers. And the director, Vincente Minnelli, has given the material an hysterical stylishness; the black-and-white cinematography (by Robert Surtees) is more than dramatic -- it has a temperament." -- Pauline Kael, 5,001 Nights at the Movies

"The film itself has an elegant glitter which preserves and glorifies the Hollywood myth rather than undermining it."
- The Oxford Companion to Film

"Very much a Hollywood 'in' picture, this rather obvious flashback melodrama offers good acting chances and a couple of intriguing situations; never quite finding the style it seeks, it offers good bitchy entertainment along the way...."
- Halliwell's Film & Video Guide

"For all the cleverness of the apparatus, it lacks a point of view."
- Penelope Houston

"Clever, sharply observed little scenes reflect the Hollywood surface: the egotistic babble at a party, the affectations of European directors, the sneak preview, the trying on of suits for catmen in a B picture."
- MFB

"...The Bad and the Beautiful was a breakthrough: it opened up a potential for sudden insights in brilliantly regulated melodrama that was one of Minnelli's most fascinating assets."
- David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film

"Captivating Hollywood story...Solid, insightful, witty, with Lana's best performance ever....David Raksin's wonderful score is another asset."
- Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide

"...Minnelli brings a tougher eye to his story of a young producer's meteoric rise and fall than most directors would have done, and the copious references to actual people/events anchor the melodrama in a spirit not unlike that of Sunset Boulevard [1950]....Fascinating as a companion piece to Two Weeks in Another Town [1962], which resumes the themes and some of the characters a decade late." - Tony Rayns, TimeOut Film Guide

"...all the elements of The Bad and the Beautiful are top-drawer: the punchy dialogue, the noirish voiceover narration, Robert Surtees' chiaroscuro-heavy cinematography, the swoony David Raksin score, and especially the dynamic tone shifts of the triptych story. This is studio-system product at its juiciest and most sophisticated, full of insights into the mess behind the art." - Noel Murray, The Onion A.V. Club

"Some critics have accused Minnelli of accepting the premise at face value, as if he is saying that career achievements are more important than personal relationships. Pauline Kael wrote that the film "is a piquant example of what it purports to expose." But Minnelli is neither that cold nor cynical. While it's true that the film does have a luxuriant faade, it also has enough scenes dealing ambiguously with the art/life dichotomy that Minnelli can't be accused of intentionally espousing such a specious view. And too there is nothing in the movie to suggest that an extreme example of this premise would be acceptable. It's not as if the film is recommending that Leni Riefenstahl should honor Adolf Hitler for financing two of her greatest films. Jonathan Shields is no Hitler, but the uncertainty of giving "the devil his due," as Pebbels points out, is the film's central concept." - Matt Langdon, PopMatters

"Vincente Minnelli directed The Bad and the Beautiful adhering to the highest production values. The result is a slick package that is very satisfying to watch. Minnelli skillfully manages to avoid falling into a boring soap opera tale, despite the tabloid-like "tells all" script. Sets and costuming are brilliant. Black and white photography by Robert Surtees is impeccable and gives maximum impact to each scene, actually quite noirish and at times reminiscent of the innovative camera work in Citizen Kane." - George Chabot, epinions.com

Compiled by Frank Miller

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