Time: 118 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress (Grahame), Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design and Screenplay. Nomination for Best Actor (Douglas).
Douglas gives a wicked turn as the classic embodiment of a Hollywood producer brilliant, charming, energetic and completely in love with himself. This behind-the-scenes tale unfolds in flashback, revealing the rise and fall of Douglas and the "friends" he took up the ladder to his success. Turner, Powell and Sullivan star as the actress, writer and director who owe their current A-List status to Douglas, but hate his guts anyway. The film illuminates, one by one, how they met, befriended and then were betrayed by Douglas, their supposed ally or lover.
While you can't blame them for being pissed, it's their illusions about Douglas that get them into trouble in the first place. It's pretty clear from the start that he'll do anything to make it back on top of the Hollywood power pyramid. His is the only character who doesn't change because he's the only one who knows who he is and where he wants to be. He's an arrogant bastard in the beginning and an older one at the end. What keeps them on his hook is his obvious talent when it comes to developing a great motion picture. His actions give them their heart's desires, but come at a hefty price, practically destroying their lives in the process.
In the end, when their personal pied piper calls, will they answer? Do they find it in their hearts to forgive the man who gave them everything, but took so much in return? While an often engaging look at what it takes to make it in show business, the film is uneven and not very interesting when Douglas is offscreen. His presence supplies the flick with energy and charisma and a character to sink your teeth into. Turner proves she's more than just a pretty face as an alcoholic starlet, fighting to secure and then prove her talent in her first starring role. She's both fragile and worldly, sexy and sweet.
Turner was at the height of her career and it shows. The Powell and Sullivan segments are as equally well-done, though lacking the spark of the Turner section. Though what happens to Powell's character is life-altering in the extreme. Though the screenplay won an Oscar, I fear the plodding nature of the storytelling will bore modern audiences. Ultimately, it's the acting, not the script that makes this an interesting film. One to see if you're a fan of the actors or love movies about the movies.