The Bad and the Beautiful

1953

The Bad and the Beautiful

Critics Consensus

Melodrama at its most confident, The Bad and the Beautiful is an ode to moviemaking that offers unblinking insight into the ugly egos that have shaped Hollywood history.

96%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 24

86%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,140
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Movie Info

This film shows via flashback the stories of three famous movie people whose lives were forever changed by their association with a manipulative, ruthless movie producer. The three come together at the producer's request; he wants them to work together on mutually hated Jonathon Shields' newest big-budget production.

Cast

Kirk Douglas
as Jonathan Shields
Lana Turner
as Georgia Lorrison
Walter Pidgeon
as Harry Pebbel
Dick Powell
as James Lee Bartlow
Barry Sullivan
as Fred Amiel
Gloria Grahame
as Rosemary Bartlow
Gilbert Roland
as Victor 'Gaucho' Ribera
Leo G Carroll
as Henry Whitfield
Vanessa Brown
as Kay Amiel
Paul Stewart
as Syd Murphy
Ivan Triesault
as Von Ellstein
Kathleen Freeman
as Miss March
Jonathan Cott
as Assistant Director
Lucy Knoch
as Blonde
Steve Forrest
as Leading Man
Perry Sheehan
as Secretary
George J. Lewis
as Actor in Screen Test
William 'Bill' Phillips
as Assistant Director
Madge Blake
as Mrs. Rosser
Jay Adler
as Mr. Z
Peggy King
as Singer
Louis Calhern
as Voice on the Recording
Bess Flowers
as Joe's Friend at Party
Harold Miller
as Mourner at Shields Funeral
Sandy Descher
as Little Girl
Dabbs Greer
as Studio Lighting Technician
Ned Glass
as Wardrobe Man
Sarah Spencer
as Reporter
William E. Green
as Hugo Shields
Norma Jean Salina
as Bobby-Soxer
Chris Olson
as Amiel's Boy
Kathy Qualen
as Bobby-Soxer
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Critic Reviews for The Bad and the Beautiful

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (23) | Rotten (1)

Audience Reviews for The Bad and the Beautiful

  • Aug 14, 2017
    Fans of Kirk Douglas must surely consider this one of his finest performances. He plays a highly ambitious and talented movie producer whose ambition has destroyed relations with people close to him. Three of those people - an actor, director and writer - recall his betrayals. Fine film that Hollywood fans might enjoy more if they research who the characters were based on.
    Aldo G Super Reviewer
  • May 09, 2012
    Playing a hybrid of Val Lewton and David O. Selznick, Douglas delivers arguably his greatest performance. When Pidgeon acts on his behalf in attempting to reunite him with Turner, Powell and Sullivan they flat out refuse at first, recounting stories of how his professional obsession screwed them over personally. The irony of course is that none of the three would have their success without him. He may lack social skills but anyone who ever dreamed of making a movie can fully understand his immersion in the world's largest train set. He never sets out to hurt anyone, they just expect more from him than he can give. Sullivan is really the only member of the trio you can sympathise with when his ideas for adapting a troublesome novel are gifted to an established director by Douglas. Turner falls for Douglas but he lets her know from the beginning his work is all he has time for so it should be no surprise when he rejects her approaches. Powell's writer tries to stick to his artistic guns but allows himself to be seduced by Hollywood. His tragedy is the result of an accident which certainly had no direct relation to Douglas, though he does seize on it to immerse Powell in his work. The other great performance comes from Turner, shaking off the blond sex symbol tag in her portrayal of a boozehound actress, haunted by the spectre of her father, a once respected actor. Pidgeon is charismatic as an old school producer whose motto is "Give me a picture that ends with a kiss and black ink on the books". It's quite bizarre how the cast member awarded an Oscar was Grahame as her performance seems particularly hammy compared to the others on display here. Minnelli always worked with the best cameramen and here it was Robert Surtees, best known for his widescreen work on "Ben Hur". As to be expected it's a beautiful looking film with brilliant use of shadow and light which plays up the Jekyll and Hyde nature of Douglas' character. Usually Hollywood producers are portrayed as philistines who have no clue about the creative process but Douglas is the exception. He seems to genuinely know more about making a movie than the people he hires, dispensing acting, writing and directing tips which serve to elevate his material. With his "less is more" attitude he recalls the great B-movie producer Val Lewton who changed the horror genre by keeping the monsters in the shadows. There's a great scene where he demonstrates with a desk lamp to Sullivan just how effective this technique can be. Powell receives some wise instruction too when Douglas crosses out lines of unnecessary dialogue from his script, telling him the audiences imagination will be far more powerful than anything he could possibly write. If only today's overly verbose screenwriters could receive such guidance.
    The Movie W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 08, 2011
    A Kirk Douglas film, has to be based or meant to base a director that played a part in his career, just to factual to be a made up story. Its about a director that is pretty much ruthless, shows the story of three people who basically were made famous thru his ruthless actions. A good ole Black & White. 4 stars.
    Bruce B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 28, 2011
    Here is one of the best films ever directed on the subject of making films. It stands close behind "Sunset Boulevald" and it's just a step ahead of "Paris when it sizzles". I will never be a fan of Kirk Douglas but I must admit his filmography is filled with a long series of important collaborations. Here, under the hand of Vincente Minelli and next to Lana Turner, the camera works wonders on him. A really good film, by all means and by any measure.
    Anastasia B Super Reviewer

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