A long-standing cliche in theater is the "Play within the Play" motif. This goes way back (remember Hamlet? "The Play's the thing."), and generally is hard to pull off. A related genre is the "Movie about a movie" which is similarly hard to pull off. An exception to this was the 1952 film The Bad And The Beautiful, starring Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner. It scored five Oscars which is a record of sorts (well, for a film that wasn't nominated for either Best Picture or Best Director; but hey, a record is a record).
The film spawned a whole mini industry of speculation as to just which real life Hollywood people were characterized in the film. It's said that David Selznick had his lawyer review the film to see if it was libelous, which is pretty fun. Hey, the play's the thing, amirite?
David Raksin composed the theme song (and the entire soundtrack). The producer wanted lyrics to the song but Raksin was pretty steamed about having to split the royalties of his previous hit song "Laura" and so insisted that it would be instrumental only. It also became a hit, presumably much to Raksin's satisfaction. Sadly, this bit of Hollywood drama wasn't depicted in the film.
But the music is quite nice. Not exactly film noir (which Raksin also composed for), but from a Hollywood at the height of its musical power.
Amazing music -- and to think that Kirk Douglas lived to be 104.I will have to get some of his old movies teed up -- I hadn't heard of this one.
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