The rise, fall and resurgence of a loutish Hollywood producer, as told through the eyes of three people he made then alienated. This quintessential movie on movies is an engrossing, seductive Minnelli epic, graced with superb performances.
The three separate stories, revolving around Douglas, a ruthless producer whose cunning ways allow him to climb to the top of the Hollywood heap, are told by star Turner, director Sullivan and writer Powell. Some film buffs believe that Douglas's role model was Val Lewton, the extravagant, driven
producer of the 1940s, since Lewton made CAT PEOPLE and Douglas produces "The Cat Men" in the film. However, the character is more likely based on mogul David O. Selznick, particularly his beginnings as a B-film producer, his grooming of future wife Jennifer Jones and his making of a colossal
Civil War film which, of course, was GONE WITH THE WIND.
Pidgeon's part is most certainly based upon the cost-conscious B-production chief at MGM, Harry Rapf, for whom Selznick first went to work. Schnee's sharp script, which acutely profiles every type of Hollywood character, from the grubbing agent to the mighty mogul, enables one easily to identify
Turner's character with that of Diana Barrymore, the tragedy-struck daughter of the Great Profile, John Barrymore. The Powell role, an excellently understated profile, is best associated with writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose romance with Hollywood turned sour and who was married to southern belle
Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald.
Cost-conscious MGM used many sets from its previous productions for this film, showing them in their naked construction, such as the sweeping staircase used earlier in Turner's MERRY WIDOW. More "inside" ploys were used in the production; Turner's own makeup man and hairdresser, Del Armstrong and
Helen Young, appear in the film in their real-life roles, as does Alyce My, Turner's regular stand-in. Raksin's stirring, moody score is superb. The sets by Edwin B. Willis and Keogh Gleason, especially in the roomy, dust-laden mansions, the movie lots, the sets, and the studio offices, totally
reflect the Hollywood that is no more but which is forever preserved in this always-fascinating classic.
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- Review: The rise, fall and resurgence of a loutish Hollywood producer, as told through the eyes of three people he made then alienated. This quintessential movie on movies is an engrossing, seductive Minnelli epic, graced with superb performances. The three separ… (more)