Bad For Each Other
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You'd never otherwise guess it, but the obscure and forgotten Bad for Each Other (1953) was originally announced with great fanfare as a major A-list studio picture. In December 1950, producer Hal Wallis bought the rights to an as-yet-unpublished Horace McCoy novel called Scalpel, in a deal worth at least $100,000. A couple of weeks later, the publication Paramount News said Wallis "plans the production at Paramount as one of the top offerings of 1951." Word was that the veteran producer intended to cast Burt Lancaster in the lead role of a doctor from a poor mining town who chooses greed over altruism before a mining disaster brings him to his senses. As often happens after grand Hollywood pronouncements, the movie never came together, and in 1953, Columbia acquired the rights to the property. McCoy and novelist Irving Wallace wrote the screenplay, Charlton Heston was cast as the doctor, and the finished film was released as Bad for Each Other.
It was dismissed by critics as a pale imitation of The Citadel (1938) and didn't do much for the careers of anyone involved. Heston was perhaps not quite right for this role, and it certainly didn't leave him with any memories one way or the other: he doesn't even mention the title in his autobiography! It was, however, one of only three films of his career in which his wife Lydia also appeared. Billed as Lydia Clarke, she plays a small role of a character named Rita Thornburg. The other Heston movies she appears in are The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), for which she was uncredited, and Will Penny (1968). Heston and Clarke married in 1944 and were still married when Heston died in 2008.
Also in the cast of Bad for Each Other are Lizabeth Scott as the rich glamour girl Heston falls for (described by one critic as "a prowling debutante"), and Dianne Foster as the good-girl nurse who also vies for Heston's affections. Supporting player Mildred Dunnock had been Oscar®-nominated two years earlier for Death of a Salesman (1951) and would be nominated again for Baby Doll (1956).
Irving Rapper, director of Bad for Each Other, will always be best known for Now, Voyager (1942), one of several Bette Davis movies to his credit. He had previously directed Mildred Dunnock in one of those films - The Corn Is Green (1945), Dunnock's first credited screen role.
Director: Irving Rapper
Screenplay: Horace McCoy, Irving Wallace
Cinematography: Franz Planer
Art Direction: Walter Holscher
Music: George Duning (uncredited)
Film Editing: Al Clark
Cast: Charlton Heston (Dr. Tom Owen), Lizabeth Scott (Helen Curtis), Dianne Foster (Joan Lasher), Mildred Dunnock (Mrs. Mary Owen), Arthur Franz (Dr. Jim Crowley), Ray Collins (Dan Reasonover), Marjorie Rambeau (Mrs. Roger Nelson), Lester Matthews (Dr. Homer Gleeson), Rhys Williams (Doc Scobee), Lydia Clarke (Rita Thornburg).
by Jeremy Arnold