Friday, 6 November 2009

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

(We've come to a decision here at Oompah Central. I enjoy the critical exercise of blogging, but my working routines are changing, so I'm going to have to squeeze the amount of time I spend on it. So, from here on, I'm going to try and keep my posts to a 300-word limit.)

We saw The Bad and The Beautiful the other night, as part of the 'Passport to Cinema' series, run by the BFI and NFTS. Written by Charles Schnee (who won the Oscar for Best Screenplay) and directed by Vincente Minelli, it's a portrait of Jonathan Shields, a monstrous but charming Hollywood producer, played by Kirk Douglas.

It's got an interesting flashback structure, with Shields never appearing in 'real time'. A director (Barry Sullivan), film star (Lana Turner) and screenwriter (Dick Powell) are summoned to the office of Shields' assistant and offered the opportunity to work with him again. Then, each of them recalls their experiences at his hands that made them swear never to go near him again.

However, Shields is a complex character. Despite his selfish deeds, it's clear that he's a man of considerable ability and charm - not quite the typically monstrous blowhard you might expect.

Ironically, his ruthlessness made their various collaborations successful and paved the way for all three to enjoy future prosperity. As the film ends, it's clear that he retains sufficient charisma for the trio to find themselves being drawn in to his proposed project.

I'd never heard of the film before seeing it in the BFI brochure, but it's an entertaining look at the dark side of Hollywood, with quite a bit of edge. And any film with a screenwriter as one of the main characters has got to be worth a look.

So how'd I do... 241 words! Welcome to the Golden Age of Brevity!

Analysis and detailed synopsis (FilmSite)
Trailer (Spike - after a Family Guy ad)

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