The Bad and the Beautiful (1953)

116-117 mins | Drama | 30 January 1953

Director:

Vincente Minnelli

Writer:

Charles Schnee

Producer:

John Houseman

Cinematographer:

Robert Surtees

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Edward Carfagno

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The film's working titles were Tribute to a Bad Man and Memorial to a Bad Man . After the M-G-M logo, the opening credits begin with a shot of the story's fictional studio logo, Shields Pictures, Inc. Each of the names of the principal cast appear before the title, superimposed over the Shields logo, each on a separate screen, in the following order: Lana Turner, Kirk Douglas, Walter Pidgeon, Dick Powell, Barry Sullivan, Gloria Grahame and Gilbert Roland. Although Vanessa Brown is billed ninth in the opening cast credits, her name does not appear in end credits.
       At the end of the picture, the Shields Pictures, Inc. logo reappears. The cast and character names are then shown superimposed over scenes in the picture; however, end credits list the cast in an ascending order of importance. The above title cast is presented last, in a slightly different order, with Turner the final person shown. After the end credits the following written acknowledgment appears: "We are grateful to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science for permission to use the Academy Award Statuette."
       As noted in news items and reviews, George Bradshaw's original story, which appeared under the title Memorial to a Bad Man when it was published in The Ladies Home Journal in Feb 1951 was about a Broadway producer. Although that story provided the principal structure for the film, an earlier short story written by Bradshaw, "Of Good and Evil" ( Cosmopolitan , Feb 1948), was also purchased by M-G-M and provided some additional basis for the film. According to modern sources, ... More Less

The film's working titles were Tribute to a Bad Man and Memorial to a Bad Man . After the M-G-M logo, the opening credits begin with a shot of the story's fictional studio logo, Shields Pictures, Inc. Each of the names of the principal cast appear before the title, superimposed over the Shields logo, each on a separate screen, in the following order: Lana Turner, Kirk Douglas, Walter Pidgeon, Dick Powell, Barry Sullivan, Gloria Grahame and Gilbert Roland. Although Vanessa Brown is billed ninth in the opening cast credits, her name does not appear in end credits.
       At the end of the picture, the Shields Pictures, Inc. logo reappears. The cast and character names are then shown superimposed over scenes in the picture; however, end credits list the cast in an ascending order of importance. The above title cast is presented last, in a slightly different order, with Turner the final person shown. After the end credits the following written acknowledgment appears: "We are grateful to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science for permission to use the Academy Award Statuette."
       As noted in news items and reviews, George Bradshaw's original story, which appeared under the title Memorial to a Bad Man when it was published in The Ladies Home Journal in Feb 1951 was about a Broadway producer. Although that story provided the principal structure for the film, an earlier short story written by Bradshaw, "Of Good and Evil" ( Cosmopolitan , Feb 1948), was also purchased by M-G-M and provided some additional basis for the film. According to modern sources, it was Vincente Minnelli and John Houseman who convinced M-G-M production chief Dore Schary that Memorial to a Bad Man would be a much stronger picture if the setting was switched to Hollywood. Many of the film's movie studio exteriors were shot on the M-G-M lot in Culver City, CA. Establishing shots and some exteriors of the Beverly Hills Hotel were also in the film.
       Many contemporary and modern sources have speculated that "Jonathan Shields" was loosely based on producer David O. Selznick and the argument between Shields and director "Von Ellstein" was inspired by Selznick's disputes with director George Cukor when Cukor abruptly departed from Selznick's production of Gone With the Wind (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ). Some modern sources have speculated that producer Val Lewton also was a partial inspiration for Shields. In The Bad and the Beautiful the film that is the first successful picture for "Fred Amiel" and "Jonathan Shields" was inspired by Lewton's 1942 RKO production Cat People (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 .)
       Von Ellstein's character is frequently mentioned as having been inspired by director Erich von Stroheim, and "James Lee Bartlow" is thought by some critics to have been inspired by William Faulkner. "Georgia Lorrison" was also partially inspired by Diana Barrymore, just as "George Lorrison" was based on her father, John Barrymore. Unlike Georgia, however, Diana Barrymore had a brief and unsuccessful film career. George Lorrison does not appear in the film but a recording of his voice is heard, provided by M-G-M contract star Louis Calhern. Photographs of George in Georgia's room are also of Calhern.
       A contemporary article in an unnamed source in the AMPAS Library production file on the film noted that preview cards for The Bad and the Beautiful were highly complimentary although many in the audience deemed the picture too long. Following the preview several short scenes, comprising about twelve minutes, were cut before the film's release. As shown in photographs with brief descriptions in the same article, among the deleted scenes were shots of Jonathan in a Paris hotel room as he is speaking via phone to and a scene in which Georgia first meets James Lee.
       Other contemporary news items include Steve Carruthers in the cast as a cameraman and note that trumpeter Maynard Ferguson was to make his motion picture debut in the film, but their appearance in the released film has not been verified. Singers Hadda Brooks and Peggy King, who both appear briefly in the film, made their motion picture debuts in The Bad and the Beautiful . Items in HR 's "Rambling Reporter" columns indicate that actor Fernando Lamas refused to go on location to Mexico for the film Sombrero (1953, see entry) because he did not want to leave Lana Turner, with whom he was having a relationship. He was subsequently suspended by M-G-M, but in her autobiography, Turner indicated that her relationship with Lamas was over by that time.
       A modern source states that Turner's personal makeup man, Del Armstrong, and her personal hairdresser, Helen Young, appeared as her makeup man and hairdresser in the film. The same source also includes Jeff Richards ( Young man at studio ) and Alyce May ( Movie extra ) in the cast. The Bad and the Beautiful was the first of four Minnelli-directed films starring Kirk Douglas. However, although they are both credited on the 1953 compendium film The Story of Three Loves , Minnelli did not direct the sequence in which Kirk Douglas appeared. The other two are the Vincent Van Gogh biography Lust for Life (1956 , see entry) and the Italian-set filmmaking drama Two Weeks in Another Town (1962, see entry).
       Gloria Grahame earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of "Rosemary Bartlow." Academy Awards also went to Charles Schnee for Best Adapted Screenplay; Robert Surtees for Best Cinematography (black and white); Best Art Director and Set Decoration (black and white) to Cedric Gibbons and Edward Carfango, Edwin B. Willis and Keogh Gleason; and Best Costumes (black and white) to Helen Rose. An Academy Award nomination also went to Kirk Douglas for Best Actor, but he lost to Gary Cooper for High Noon . Since the film’s release, it has frequently been cited by film historians as one of the best films ever made about Hollywood. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 Nov 1952.
---
Daily Variety
19 Nov 1952
p. 3.
Film Daily
21 Nov 1952
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 1951
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1952
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 1952
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 1952
p. 2, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 1952
p. 5, 7.
Hollywood Reporter
1 May 1952
p. 2, 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 1952
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 1952
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
25 Dec 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Nov 1952
p. 1613.
New York Times
16 Jan 1953
p. 19.
New Yorker
17 Jan 1953.
---
Time
12 Jan 1952.
---
Variety
19 Nov 1952
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Women's cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short stories "Memorial to a Bad Man" in Ladies Home Journal (Feb 1951) and "Of Good and Evil" in Cosmopolitan (Feb 1948) by George Bradshaw.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Tribute to a Bad Man
Memorial to a Bad Man
Release Date:
30 January 1953
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 25 December 1952
New York opening: 15 January 1953
Production Date:
early April--early June 1952
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
18 November 1952
Copyright Number:
LP2123
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
116-117
Length(in feet):
10,579
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16017
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Actress Georgia Lorrison, writer James Lee Bartlow and director Fred Amiel each receive a trans-Atlantic phone call from producer Jonathan Shields. While Georgia and Fred refuse to speak to him, Jim snarls “Drop dead” before hanging up. Later, the three drive together to Shields Pictures to see their old friend, studio manager Harry Pebbel. When they scoff at Harry's suggestion that Jonathan, whom they have not seen in some time, wants them to make a picture for him, Harry ponders their responses and asks Fred, who has known Jonathan for eighteen years, how they met: At the funeral of Jonathan's hated studio mogul father, aspiring director Fred is a hired mourner. When Fred makes snide comments about the deceased, however, Jonathan refuses to pay him. Remorseful over his behavior, Fred later apologizes and learns from Jonathan that he wants to make movies but his father died broke, and he has no assets. Fred admires Jonathan for the drive he himself lacks, and Jonathan sees talent in Fred. The men become friends, and for the next two years work at every movie job they can find. One night, when Fred, Jonathan, Fred’s girl friend Kay and their friend Syd Murphy crash a Hollywood party, Jonathan gets an idea when he sees Harry and several producers playing poker. Pawning everything they can, the friends finance Jonathan's entry in a high stakes poker game. After the game, a bemused Jonathan reveals that he won $6,000 but eventually lost that and $6,351 more to Harry. The next day, Jonathan goes to Harry to say he cannot cover his bet but proposes that Harry, who was started in ... +


Actress Georgia Lorrison, writer James Lee Bartlow and director Fred Amiel each receive a trans-Atlantic phone call from producer Jonathan Shields. While Georgia and Fred refuse to speak to him, Jim snarls “Drop dead” before hanging up. Later, the three drive together to Shields Pictures to see their old friend, studio manager Harry Pebbel. When they scoff at Harry's suggestion that Jonathan, whom they have not seen in some time, wants them to make a picture for him, Harry ponders their responses and asks Fred, who has known Jonathan for eighteen years, how they met: At the funeral of Jonathan's hated studio mogul father, aspiring director Fred is a hired mourner. When Fred makes snide comments about the deceased, however, Jonathan refuses to pay him. Remorseful over his behavior, Fred later apologizes and learns from Jonathan that he wants to make movies but his father died broke, and he has no assets. Fred admires Jonathan for the drive he himself lacks, and Jonathan sees talent in Fred. The men become friends, and for the next two years work at every movie job they can find. One night, when Fred, Jonathan, Fred’s girl friend Kay and their friend Syd Murphy crash a Hollywood party, Jonathan gets an idea when he sees Harry and several producers playing poker. Pawning everything they can, the friends finance Jonathan's entry in a high stakes poker game. After the game, a bemused Jonathan reveals that he won $6,000 but eventually lost that and $6,351 more to Harry. The next day, Jonathan goes to Harry to say he cannot cover his bet but proposes that Harry, who was started in the movie business by the elder Shields, hire him so that he can work off the loss. Harry says he needs good pictures, not money, and is happy to give the arrogant Jonathan a chance to fail. Jonathan then hires Fred as his director and for several years they make low-budget films together. One day, frustrated over their meager budgets, Jonathan comes up with an idea to turn a routine horror film into something unique. Although audiences are enthusiastic about the picture, Harry only offers a sequel as their next assignment. Fred later tells Jonathan it is time for them to make a “real” picture and shows him the script for The Far Away Mountain . Harry approves the project, but Jonathan takes credit for the idea, disappointing Fred. Wanting to have a big star for the lead, Fred suggests Victor “Gaucho” Ribera, and, with Syd’s help, they meet Gaucho at a club. To their surprise, Gaucho agrees to do the film because he likes the script, and Harry allocates $1,000,000 for the picture. Although Jonathan will produce, he tells Fred that studio bosses have insisted on hiring veteran Von Ellstein to direct. Hurt and angry over Jonathan’s betrayal, Fred severs their friendship. When he ends his story, Fred looks contemptuously at the Oscar Jonathon won for The Far Away Mountain , but Harry reminds him that Jonathan forced Fred to become independent and thus win two of his own Oscars. He now is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after directors and has a happy family with Kay. Harry then asks Georgia about Jonathan: The daughter of alcoholic screen legend George Lorrison, a teenaged Georgia is left penniless and shattered when he dies. She tries to get small acting jobs, but as her career founders, she turns to alcohol and men. One day, Georgia gets a small part in one of Jonathan’s pictures. Intrigued by her, Jonathan goes to her one-room apartment that night, then lambastes her for being a drunk and building a shrine to her father rather than emulating his class and talent. She then hits him and sobs hysterically until he gently puts her to bed. The next day, she shows up for the screentest, which impresses no one but Jonathan, who sees inherent star quality in her. Georgia agrees to give up alcohol and men and works hard for Jonathan, with whom she falls in love. The night before her film is to begin, Georgia disappears and Jonathan finds her drunk in her old room. Jonathan takes her to his mansion and, realizing what she needs, passionately kisses her. After weeks of shooting, the film is completed and Georgia is happy, sure that Jonathan loves her. The film is a great success but on the night of the premiere, Jonathan does not attend the party. Thinking he does not want to take the spotlight away from her, Georgia goes to his house to celebrate but finds that he is with a starlet named Lila. The stunned Georgia drives away after Jonathan lashes out at her, screaming that he feels empty at the end of a picture. At the conclusion of Georgia’s story, she says she will never work with him again, though Harry reminds her that Jonathan turned her from a drunk and a tramp into a star, one of the most popular in the world. Now Jim recalls his relationship with Jonathan: As a well-respected professor at a Virginia college, Jim gains moderate success with his first novel, The Proud Land , a racy story of old Virginia. When Jonathan, who has bought the screen rights, calls Jim to come to Hollywood for two weeks to discuss the script, Jim turns him down, but his flighty, ambitious wife Rosemary convinces him to accept. Rosemary quickly becomes dazzled by life in Hollywood. Jim is less than enthusiastic but at her urging agrees to stay and work on the script. Jonathan soon realizes that Rosemary is too much of a distraction to Jim and suggests to Gaucho that he romance Rosemary while he and Jim go to Lake Arrowhead for two weeks of uninterrupted work. Despite Jim’s initial hatred of Jonathan, they work well together and become friends by the end of the two weeks. As the men drive back from Arrowhead, Jim confesses that he missed Rosemary’s distractions, and when they stop for gas, he is stunned by a newspaper headline stating that Gaucho and Rosemary are believed dead in a mountain plane crash. Later, Jonathan and Syd keep the press, who know that the plane was headed for Acapulco, from revealing the truth in the newspapers. Jonathan comforts Jim, who blames himself because he left Rosemary alone, and feigns ignorance of Gaucho and Rosemary's affair. Four days after production begins on The Proud Land , Jonathan’s constant second guessing of Von Ellstein causes him to quit, and Jonathan takes over the picture’s direction. Although he works hard and is very patient with the crew, when the picture is finished Jonathan realizes that it is terrible and it is his fault. Jim cheers Jonathan up by suggesting that they go to Lake Tahoe, but while Jonathan is getting ready he lets it slip that he knew about Gaucho and Rosemary before the plane crash. Jonathan tells the stunned Jim that he is better off without Rosemary, who was a fool, after which Jim punches him and leaves. When Jim finishes talking, Harry points out that he won a Pulitzer Prize for his book based on Rosemary and is one of the most successful screenwriters in Hollywood. Harry then says that he is proud to have worked with Jonathan, even if Jonathan considered him little more than a penny-pinching bookkeeper. When a call comes through from Jonathan, Georgia, Fred and Jim leave Harry’s office, but have a change of heart. Georgia picks up an extension phone in the outer office, and as the three huddle over the receiver, they hear Jonathan describe his idea for the new picture and are intrigued. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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