“The Bad and the Beautiful” examines the ruthless side of Tinseltown
Updated: Mar 28, 2021
BLU-RAY REVIEW / FRAME SHOTS
Kirk Douglas stars as domineering producer Jonathan Shields and Lana Turner as Hollywood glamour queen Georgia Lorrison.
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“THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL: WARNER ARCHIVE COLLECTION”
Blu-ray; 1952; unrated
Best extra: “Lana Turner … A Daughter’s Memoir” documentary
FROM Warner Archive Collection, “The Bad and the Beautiful” returns in all its schmaltzy glory. Lana Turner plays a glamorous Hollywood star named Georgia Lorrison; Barry Sullivan is Fred Amiel, a director; and Dick Powell portrays author/screenwriter James Lee Bartlow. We meet the three in the office of producer Harry Pebbel (Walter Pidgeon), where they have come so Pebbel can pitch them a new film.
When they learn it’s to be co-produced by Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), they have to be convinced not to walk out the door. They despise Shields and, via flashbacks, we eventually learn the reasons why — but also why each owes his or her subsequent successes to him. Directed by Vincente Minnelli (“Meet Me in St. Louis”), and based on a 1949 magazine story, the film won five Academy Awards and is loads of fun, thanks to its shining cast, which also features Gloria Grahame, Gilbert Roland, and Leo G. Carroll.
(1) Jonathan Shields attends the funeral of his much-hated father, a Hollywood studio tycoon. (2) "The Bad and the Beautiful" won five Oscars including for Best Cinematography, Best Costumes Design, Best Art Direction, Best Writing Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Gloria Grahame. Douglas was nominated for Best Actor, but lost to Gary Cooper for his role in "High Noon." (3) Right, Studio manager Harry Pebbel (Walter Pidgeon) invites director Fred Amiel (Barry Sullivan), actress Georgia Lorrison (Lana Turner) and screenwriter James Lee Bartlow (Dick Powell) to his studio office for one final movie deal with Jonathan Shields. (4) Jonathan paid Fred Amiel and others as hired mourners at his father's funeral.
This Blu-ray edition of the black and white classic looks great, thanks to a 4K scan of the original camera negative (1.37:1 aspect ratio), providing excellent detail and a nice, grainy filmic texture. The HD audio is also very good, with dialogue always clean and sharp, perfectly balanced sound effects and David Raskin’s fine score working beautifully with the production.
The Blu-ray carries over several bonus features from the 2002 DVD edition. One is a “Scoring Session,” featuring several of Raskin’s musical cues. The documentary on Turner was made for TCM and is quite enjoyable. Offering intermittent interview excerpts with Turner’s daughter Cheryl Crane, and narration by Robert Wagner, the film covers her life and career, going back to her legendary discovery at age 15, by director Mervyn LeRoy in a Schwab’s ice cream parlor.
Crane’s story is mostly a sad one of longing and neglect, beginning with a memory of her mother’s admonition never to mess up her hair. Turner, says Crane understandingly, “always looked camera-ready.” Additional interviews with Turner’s publicist, makeup artist, drama coach, co-stars Robert Stack and Juanita Moore, and a longtime friend, round out the stories of Turner’s active love life — she accumulated seven husbands and umpteen lovers — and career ups and downs.
(1) Jonathan Shields and Fred Amiel decided to shot their low budget horror film "The Doom of the Cat Men" in the shadows to hide the awful costumes and to increase the terror. "In the dark, all sorts of things come alive," says Shields. (2) Early screener cards show Shields and Amiel have a hit. (3) Jonathan takes a graffiti drawing of his father drawn by alcoholic screen legend George Lorrison.
Those curious about Crane’s scandalous killing of her mother’s gangster boyfriend Johnny Stampanato will not be disappointed. Turner’s publicist Glenn Rose describes rushing to her house after Crane was taken by the police after stabbing Stampanato to death. Rather than accompanying her daughter to the police station, Turner wanted to see her lover’s body in the morgue. Rose says he blocked the door so she couldn’t go, warning her that the publicity she’d get if she did, would certainly destroy her career. Crane was ultimately cleared of the killing, which was deemed a justifiable homicide, but the incident took its toll. For several years afterward, Crane was constantly in the headlines, for abusing alcohol and drugs, and in some kind of trouble or other. It was only toward the end of Turner’s life when the romantic side of it was over, that Crane stepped in to take care of her and, was finally able to grow close to her mother: “In her last years, I felt she loved me. I was important to her.”
— Peggy Earle
(1) Harry Pebbel approves the $1 million budget for "The Faraway Mountain," which Shields directs since he steals the job from Amiel. (2) The movie stars veteran actor Victor "Gaucho" Ribera (Gilbert Roland) and a bit part for Georgia Lorrison, the daughter of George Lorrison. (3) Georgia eventually falls for her producer while preparing for her first major role in an unnamed movie. "To Georgia, my star," says Shields. He sends her to Palm Springs for seven days of rest before the cameras start rolling. (4) On the first day of shooting Georgia is missing. Her agent looked for her at the morgue, waterfront, jails, hospitals and the Main Street booze parlors. Nothing. Jonathan eventually finds her drunk at a Palm Springs motel.
(1) Jonathan demands another take of the wedding scene for the unnamed movie. (2) The emotional last scene, which Georgia was unsure she could pull it off. (3) The premiere as Georgia signs autographs with agent Syd Murphy (Paul Stewart) at her side.
(1&2) Professor/author James Lee Bartlow (Dick Powell) is recruited by Jonathan Shields to adapt his racy novel "The Proud Land" into a workable script. Bartlow turns the offer down, but his wife Rosemary (Gloria Grahame) convinces him to take the job. Jonathan and James go to an isolated cabin for two weeks of uninterrupted work on the script, while Rosemary is dazzled by Hollywood. (3) Fred, Georgia, and James eavesdrop as Jonathan tries to convince Harry Pebbel to finance his latest film.