#412- The Bad and the Beautiful

Quick recap: A director, an actress and a writer all have a common bond: They hate former producer Jonathan Shields.

This was a serious film but I would totally watch a buddy comedy sequel between these three

Fun (?) fact: Sex is mentioned 6 times in the movie, which was rather scandalous at the time.

How deep does that chin dimple go? Would I be able to put a finger in there?

Thoughts and observations:

Watching this film made me really miss the days when someone could make a movie about what was currently going on in Hollywood, not caring who was spoofed in the process. Citizen Kane, All About Eve, Sunset Boulevard, Singin’ in the Rain– and now the Bad and the Beautiful. Like, I just want a film about how soul sucking it is to work with Spielberg or how obsessed with feet Tarantino really is. Do better, movie industry.

So the main plot of the movie is that these three people-Fred Amiel, Georgia Lorrison, and James Lee Bartlow have been screwed over by producer Jonathan Shields (the Bad) but are now ridiculously successful (the Beautiful). In reviewing this movie, I’ve decided to rank the level of deception to the level of success:

3) Amiel- He and Shields teamed up to make B movies and accidentally make one worth some money. This gives Amiel courage to reveal his idea for a blockbuster, which Shields then takes to the studio and picks someone completely different to direct. Amiel loses out big time at first but later becomes an award winning director.

Deception: meddling. This seems like a common thing done in the industry. And even if the idea was a great one, whose to say Amiel would’ve also made the perfect director?

Success: High!

2) Lorrison- She got picked to star in Shield’s films and really became successful once she fell in love with him. She stopped drinking and poured all her emotion into her roles so as to further please Shields. Shields, meanwhile, wasn’t into her at all and only made her think so, so that she could continue being a great actress. Lorrison eventually finds out about the deception and leaves the studio completely. She then goes on to be one of the most famous actresses of the day.

Deception: pretty high. It’s never a good idea to deceive someone to believe you are in love with them.

Success: High!

1)  Bartlow- He is a writer who Shields hires to make a script. He isn’t interested at first, but his wife sure is so Bartlow agrees to it. The wife is extremely annoying however and Shields needs her away. He arranges for her to have an affair with a top actor, which ends with the two of them dying in airplane crash. Bartlow eventually writes a successful book about his dead wife.

Deception: Pretty freaking deceptive.

Success: Does it matter? His wife is dead!

Especially with Bartlow’s story it is totally understandable that they turn Shields down. No level of success is worth that amount of drama and deception. On the other hand, that’s show business! The final scene of them listening on the phone and liking the idea being pitched just goes to show that nothing ever changes. Good for them?

Watchability score: 4/5

Up next: Horrorfest is here!

#411- The Naked Spur

Quick recap: Howard Kemp hunts for a man who killed a deputy in Kansas. Along the way he makes an alliance with an old grizzled miner and a creepy guy who was dishonorably discharged from the Army.

Fun (?) fact: The Naked Spur supposedly takes place in 1868, yet the jacket James Stewart wears wasn’t available until 1935. I really hope someone got fired for that blunder!

Also starring Janet Leigh, pictured here with her love interest/father figure , Ben.

Thoughts and observations:

  • To start with a positive, I think I’ve finally learned to tell James Stewart and Gary Cooper apart. Progress!
  • How to tell this western apart from the others I’ve watched so far? That’s more of a struggle.
  • I thought the psychological elements were entertaining, the scenes where the bad guy Ben tries to separate 3 the three men by appealing to their vices. But I also feel like that’s been done so many times in so many ways by now and this movie wasn’t the first to start the trend.
  • This is also one of those movies where I severely disliked everyone for various reasons. James Stewart’s ‘righteous anger’ schtick gets old fast and by the end I was just hoping that he would take Ben’s body (oops. SPOILER) and leave Lina stranded. Anything but the formulaic ending where he falls in love and gets married.
  • The scenery for the film was gorgeous and the score added a nice touch to an otherwise ho-hum movie.

Watchability score: 3/5

Up next: The Producers


#408- Guys and Dolls

Quick recap: Oh boy. So basically, all the guys want Nathan Detroit to find a place to host his gambling night but all these girls -dolls, if you will- keep mucking things up.

Fun (?) fact: There are very few contractions used for the dialogue. This was to make the characters’ lack of education noticeable, even though they tried to cover it up.

Brando and SInatra did not get along well during filming. Knowing he hated cheesecake, Brando kept flubbing his lines purposefully during the diner so that Sinatra would have to keep eating.

Thoughts and observations: 

  • This is the first time I can say definitively that the movie version is so much better than the live version. Usually I prefer live because it’s so hard to replicate the energy. But when you have Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra in starring roles, how could anything else compare?
  • The dancing is absolutely stunning and the craps game in the sewer might be my favorite number of all time. Brando’s singing, however………at least he admitted it was awful.
  • The chemistry between Brando’s character, Sky Masterson, and Jean Simmons as Sarah Brown was also a high point for me. I wasn’t feeling it at first but the scene where Sarah sobers up at the fountain in Cuba was so sweet and believable. The wedding at the end was a bit of a left turn seeing as how they had just started dating but this was the fifties after all, so why not?
  • My least favorite part of the film were the Hot Box scenes with Adelaide. Were cats sexy back then? Was that really a thing? With lyrics such as ‘talk to me pretty/ ‘Here kitty kitty!/ and pet me poppa, poppa pet me nice’, I could barely look at the screen. The later number ‘Take Back Your Mink’ was a little better because it involved stripping, which is sexier than cats, I suppose.
  • I recognized a couple of the songs, mainly ‘Luck Be a Lady’ but most didn’t stick out to me. That being said, I felt like the music was really well integrated with the story. Yes, people burst into song but even when they moved, it was very graceful and purposeful so singing just made sense in this world. I especially enjoyed the gamblers at the mission and how they were able to keep their gruffness even as they sang.

Watchability score: 5/5. The more I think about it, the more I love it!

Up next: Solaris

#405- A Place in the Sun

Quick recap: George Eastman takes up his uncle’s offer of working at his company only to end up knocking a girl up, falling in love with a socialite and getting the electric chair.

I’m really bad at recognizing movie stars so of course I had no idea this was Elizabeth Taylor. I loved her performance and just hoped whoever she was went on to do something special 🙂

Fun (?) fact:  Shelley Winters ( who played Alice) drove white Cadillacs for years after filming to compensate for feeling inferior to Elizabeth Taylor.

Thoughts and observations:

As a rule, I typically stay away from melodramas, but this one hooked me the moment Montgomery Clift appeared on screen.

From there, the plot was a wild ride from start to finish. I don’t remember ever being in a situation where I wanted both the best for every character and the worst. Even Alice, the poor factory girl whom George (Montgomery Clift) knocks up. She was absolutely a victim in every way but seeing her whine and pout when she was about to be shoved overboard was just too much to put up with from a character.

Even as I write this review, I’m still blown away by how much of a predator George Eastman was, yet I kept hoping things would turn around for him. On his first day at the factory, he was told that the most important rule was not to fraternize with the workers and he literally did just that moments later. And then while walking Alice home from the movies, his hands are all over her even though they had barely spoken before. I hated how pushy he was and knew their relationship would end badly. And I liked him even less when he started dating Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor) because he seemed so desperate to appear well off. And yet- as he professed his love for Angela, I couldn’t help  but melt. I too was annoyed that Alice was around and found myself siding with George. I didn’t think he would murder her but I wanted him to live his life with his true love.

The end of the movie was just as much of a whirlwind and I still can’t decide how I feel about all of it. George was brought to justice as he should’ve been, but once again I found myself siding with him that he didn’t murder Alice. Even as the priest got him to confess that his inaction caused her death, I still wanted a different ending and wanted there to be some twist where everyone lives happily ever after. This movie was both frustrating and absolutely the most entertained I’ve felt in a long time.

Watchability score: 5/5

Up next: Europa Europa