Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 1952. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Story by George Bradshaw, Screenplay by Charles Schnee. Cinematography by Robert Surtees. Produced by John Houseman. Music by David Raksin. Production Design by Edward C. Carfagno, Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Helen Rose. Film Editing by Conrad A. Nervig. Academy Awards 1952. Golden Globe Awards 1952.
The soap opera-style plot of this classic is easily overcome by the electrifying performances and artistic direction by Vincente Minnelli; not only is the film beautifully shot, but it is beautifully shot in black and white, when we all thought Minnelli was solely a genius with colour. Kirk Douglas plays a maniacal producer whose many difficult dealings with his leading lady (Lana Turner) as well as others close to him (Barry Sullivan, Dick Powell) are the reason they choose not to help him make a comeback after a long career drought. They recount their experiences with him in long flashbacks, including among them an adorable Gloria Grahame in an Oscar winning role as Powell’s charming Southern belle wife. In this filmm Turner was the age she was portrayed at in Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential, a tidbit for those who think that the young actress playing her in that film wasn’t enough of a dead ringer.