Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

In director Vincente Minnelli's acerbic and scathing show-business related melodrama and dark expose of sordid backstage Hollywood - one of many films about Hollywood (such as Sullivan's Travels (1941) and Sunset Boulevard (1950)); it was based on scriptwriter Charles Schnee's Oscar-winning adaptation of George Bradshaw's short story "Memorial to a Bad Man," that told about a scheming film producer. It won five of its six Oscar nominations:

  • in the film's opening, most of the main characters (an actress, a writer, and a director) were gathered together in the office of film studio executive and "B" picture producer Harry Pebbel (Walter Pidgeon) at the old Shields Studio: director Fred Amiel (Barry Sullivan), star actress (originally a rehabilitated drunk) Georgia Lorrison (Lana Turner), and widowed, award-winning Southern novelist-screenwriter James Lee Bartlow (Dick Powell)
  • after all three had furthered their careers and had become successes - they had one thing in common - all of them had earlier been manipulated and ruthlessly victimized by ambitious, cruel, driven, amoral, and egotistical film producer Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas); but now they had been asked to join the despised but irresistible Shields on his next production and film project, but each of them hated him for different reasons
  • in flashback, the viewpoints and pasts of Shields' three former associates were told, detailing how he had betrayed, double-crossed, and caused them emotional pain; they all disowned him and hoped that he would fail in the future
  • in the first flashback, Shields was shown as beginning his ruthless and opportunistic rise to power as a maker of quickie, low-budget westerns and horror films; Shields had tricked Harry Pebbel (and his production unit) into hiring him as a producer, while Fred Amiel directed several "B" movies; as time went on, Shields began to substitute his own ideas, and then in a picture written by Amiel, Shields double-crossed him, chose a different more famous director, Von Ellstein (Ivan Triesault), and stole his idea
  • in the second flashback, the daughter of a famous Hamlet stage actor, Georgia Lorrison (Lana Turner) was a drunk until Jonathan Shields rehabilitated her and made her a movie star; unfortunately, she fell in love with Shields, and thought he loved her in return
  • following the premiere of her debut performance in his film, movie star Georgia (still wearing a white mink and a white, rhinestone-encrusted dress) entered the producer's mansion with a giant bottle of champagne to celebrate - and then Georgia shockingly discovered she had been betrayed by producer Jonathan's affair with starlet magazine cover-model Lila (Elaine Stewart), who was wearing a strapless gown; as she descended the staircase from the upper bedroom, the young vamp's shadow crossed over Georgia while she was hugging Jonathan, and she added a stinging critique: "The picture's finished, Georgia. You're business. I'm company"
  • Jonathan delivered a hateful diatribe against the very vulnerable Georgia - viciously lashing out and berating her: ("Stop looking like that. Remember, I didn't ask you here. You couldn't stay where you belong, could you? You couldn't enjoy what I made possible for you. No. You'd rather have this. Well, congratulations, you've got it all laid out for you so you can wallow in pity for yourself. The betrayed woman. The wounded doe with all the drivel that goes with it going through your mind right now. Oh, he doesn't love me at all. He was lying. All those lovely moments, those tender words. He's lying. He's cheap and cruel. That low-woman Lila. Well, maybe I like Lilas. Maybe I like to be cheap once in a while. Maybe everybody does, or don't you remember? (She recoiled.) Get that look off your face! Who gave you the right to dig into me and turn me inside out and decide what I'm like. (He grabbed her by the hair.) How do you know how I feel about you, how deep it goes? Maybe I don't want anybody to own me. You or anybody. Get out! Get out! Get out!")
  • in the subsequent, incredible freak-out scene following Georgia's suicidal reaction to Jonathan's insults - she ran from the luxury mansion, entered her car, and recklessly drove off in a raging downpour; the hysterical, screaming out-of-control car sequence occurred as she drove faster and faster while headlights flashed past her from oncoming traffic; in one miraculous take, the camera rocked uncontrollably back and forth, swirling next to her in small concentric arcs as she became disoriented and flailed about; after a truck horn blasted at her car, she spun out of control when she released her grip on the wheel (the steering wheel rotated wildly as she let go); she slammed on the brakes (an inset close-up of her high-heeled shoe) and screamed, as her automobile lurched and hurtled around and finally came to rest on the side of the road; emotionally broken and in agony, she bent her head into the steering wheel where she dissolved into tears - and the car was cleansed by the deluge
  • in the third flashback, young college professor and novelist James Bartlow was brought to Hollywood with his faithless, flirtatious southern belle wife Rosemary (Oscar-winning Gloria Grahame), to adapt his latest best-selling book into producer Shields' film; to get Bartlow's distracting wife out of the way, Shields paired her up with Latino actor Victor "Gaucho" Ribera (Gilbert Roland) to take a romantic trip to Mexico; the entire affair ended in tragedy when their private plane crashed and both were killed; after Shields decided to take over the direction of the film (his first directorial effort), it became a disaster - the studio went bankrupt and he lost the studio
  • the final scene was of director Fred Amiel, actress Georgia and screenwriter James Lee Bartlow eavesdropping together on one telephone receiver - listening to the trans-atlantic conversation between Pebbel and the exiled Shields calling from Paris three years later - should they help him or not?

Georgia's Discovery of Betrayal by Jonathan

Starlet Lila

Jonathan to Georgia: "Get out! Get out!"

Hysterical Georgia's Out-of-Control Car

Film's Ending: The Three Eavesdropping on the Phone Line


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z