We've all heard about how cutthroat the movie industry can be. Vincent Minnelli's The Bad and the Beautiful is a look at just how cutthroat one Hollywood producer is willing to be in the name of success.
The Bad and the Beautiful chronicles the rise of movie studio boss Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), son of a movie producer so disliked and despised, Shields had to hire extras to attend the funeral so there would be a crowd. Shields is apparently determined to follow in his father's footsteps, as the film tells the story of three people he royally screwed over to get there. (In fact, the framing device of the movie is Shields's attempt to persuade these three people to work with him again, with their past experiences with Shields told in flashback.) First is director Fred Arniel (Barry Sullivan), who collaborates with Shields on a number of low-budget B-movies until they hit it big with Doom of the Cat Men. However, their relationships sours when Shields persuades a studio to green light Arniel's dream project - but with a more well-known director in order to ensure success. Next up is Georgia Lorrison (Lana Turner), the alcoholic daughter of a Silent Era legend who Shields grooms and seduces into becoming a leading lady (and sober). Georgia falls in love with Shields, but that goes south when she catches Shields with another woman, and Shields angrily tells her he doesn't want to be in a serious relationship because he doesn't want to be "controlled." Last but not least, we have James Lee Bartlow (Dick Powell), a Southern professor who's written a book Shields wants to turn into his next big hit. Bartlow's Hollywood-obsessed wife Rosemary (Gloria Grahame) is distracting her husband from writing his screenplay, so Shields urges Victor Ribera (Gilbert Roland), a B-actor Shields boosted to the big time, to keep her distracted in turn - a scheme that backfires with tragic consequences.