Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Bad and the Beautiful


Certainly a star-studded cast here. Lana Turner gets top billing because she was the bigger star in 1952, but it’s really Kirk Douglas’s picture. He is a movie mogul who is the son of a producer who bankrupted his own studio, so Kirk had to work his way up from the bottom. Along the way he stabs his best friend, a director (Barry Sullivan) in the back, humiliates the woman who loves him (Turner), and manipulates the wife (Gloria Grahame, in an Oscar-winning performance) of a reluctant screenwriter (Dick Powell) in a way that results in her death. Accidentally, to be sure, and he is well rid of her, at least in a professional sense, but still.

It is now some years later and Kirk, down and out in Paris, is trying to put together another picture deal with his old friend Walter Pidgeon, who still runs the studio, with all three of the people he has wronged. Kirk is on the phone, pleading, and we never hear him. The story is told in flashbacks with these three who want nothing at all to do with him. And Pidgeon points out that, without Kirk, these people would not be where they are today, which is wildly successful in all three cases. Well, yeah, he gave them their start, but do they really owe him anything? They made their own way after he betrayed them. They look a little sheepish about it, but all three turn him down.

… and yet, this being Hollywood, when Kirk starts pitching the story to Walter on the phone Lana picks up the extension and all three start listening, with growing interest on their faces. Is this a good thing? Do they owe him a helping hand to get back in the business? Morally, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not a forgiving enough person, but I’d never want to work with the son of a bitch again. But they probably will, if he’s got a good story. I’d advise them to never turn their backs on him, though.