(Review originally written at 6 November 2008)

For a movie with such a lame and sappy title, this is surely a great one. The movie is actually quite different from what you might expect. It's a strong drama that gives an insight view of the Hollywood business behind the camera's.

Movie buffs will be surely able to recognize some situations, characters and movies feature within this movie. A lot of this movie seems to be based on actual persons and events, although it of course gets all so mixed in with each other a lot, so it all still works out as original as it can get.

It besides gives us a great inside view of how movie-making in the '40's/'50's was done. The movie can be seen as one that goes behind the scenes, that shows how actors, producers, writer, directors and studio bosses all interact and quarrel with each other and how eventually a movie gets established.

But what foremost makes "The Bad and the Beautiful" such a fine and original movie is its story-telling. Basically the movie has 4 different story-lines, which each featuring a different character. What they all have in common is that they once got cheated on by movie producer Jonathan Shields, played by Kirk Douglas. The stories are being told in flashback mode and in between it cuts to the 'present' time, in which the three cheated on persons are being asked to revive the career of the tough Jonathan Shields. So you could say that this movie is four for the price of one! Each storyline is one on its own, featuring new events and characters. Nevertheless the movie never starts to feel messy or overfilled. This is of course due to the presence of the Kirk Douglas character but also really thanks to its well balanced writing.

The movie also won an Oscar for its screenplay. It won four more Oscar's and it also was nominated for another one. Strangely enough the movie did not receive a nomination in the best picture of best director category. It's the movie that still holds the record for most Academy Awards won by a film not nominated for best picture.

The movie is really being carried by Kirk Douglas, who gives away a fine performance. In all fairness, he is a guy that mostly has done some great stuff in the '50's and early '60's, which however just weren't exactly the 'golden age' of cinema. After that he hasn't starred in any real memorable movies and he now days is better known as the father of the successful actor Michael Douglas (although his career is also already declining in these recent years). So he himself never have really been a that great star, which I think has more to do with the fact that he began rather late with acting in movies. Had he begun his career in the '30's and early '40's, he would had played surely much more great roles during his career and he himself would be better known and appreciated as an actor now days. In this movie he might very well play the best role out of his career. He plays a tough and rotten character but at the same time with a real charming touch to it.

Also the other actors within this movie know to impress. The movie has a great cast, with Lana Turner, Walter Pidgeon and Dick Powell, among others. But in my opinion also a lot of credit need to go to director Vincente Minnelli for the acting performances within this movie.

The movie feels old fashioned and modern at the same time. It's a movie that is mostly done in '40's style and this is also probably the reason why it got shot in black & white. It on the other hand is also really modern with its story, which must also had been quite daring for its time. What happens behind the scenes stays behind the scenes, would had most likely been the general thought of Hollywood at the time. This movie simply ignores this and gives an original and nice look from the other side of the cameras.

A great movie, worth watching!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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