Hard, Fast and Beautiful! (1951) Poster

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There are thin parts, and flat characters, but Trevor is amazing
secondtake3 April 2011
Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951)

You might not think a tennis movie--that is, a movie about a young girl making her way up the tennis ladder to the championships--would go very far. And this is the main focus for the first half of it. But in the background some relationships are developing, and here is the real meat of this B-movie, with its slightly suggestive title.

At the core is a fairly new kind of stereotypical family, the kind broadened in 1950s television from the Donna Reed Show to My Three Sons to the Brady Bunch--a suburban utopia. Husband and wife in this case are politely happy, and the wife, played brilliantly by Claire Trevor, in particular is secretly frustrated. When her daughter begins her rise in the tennis world, and falls in love with the local pretty boy (a nice guy, too), she starts to be jealous, or at least to see what she's been missing in her own life. And then the power man comes along, a mover and shaker in the tennis world who see the daughter's talent and also the mother's hunger and charm.

It can only get interesting from there, and it does.

The tennis scenes are not terrible, but there are too many of them, I think, and we don't totally care who wins the matches. But again, this is backdrop, and as the ball is hit hard and fast, we see the subplots brood and get interesting, within the limits of the code still holding sway for another decade.

This is an Ida Lupino movie. You might not think it matters that a woman directed a fairly formula kind of film, but there are slight tilts to the attitudes that seem only possible by having a woman (and a woman like Lupino) in charge. And the characters who really rise to the most complexity are women, the daughter to some extent limited by her role as a young and naive whiz, but the mother, for sure. Between Trevor and Lupino we have an interaction that comes alive on screen.
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Flashes of Genius
jayraskin123 May 2012
In 1951, there were probably 400 movies released in the United States. This one is the only one that was directed by a woman.

Ida Lupino made seven low budget "B" films between 1949 and 1953. Despite working under terrible conditions, each one is fascinating and shows great directorial skill and creativity.

Notice how she actually makes the tennis sequences interesting. Notice how the characters often go beyond the plot and seem to be real people struggling with the world around them. Notice how there are good guys and bad guys, but all the characters have dignity and ultimately redeeming qualities.

Like Orson Welles, Ida Lupino was a directorial genius. Unfortunately, unlike Welles, she never got a chance to make her "Citizen Kane" All we are left with are seven small gems and the deliciously cute "The Trouble with Angels" that she did in the 1960's. She did direct some 60 television shows in the 1950's and 1960's, including 9 terrific episodes of Boris Karloff's "Thriller" television series.

As other people have noted, this is a good, but not great movie, with an outstanding performance by Claire Trevor as the mother. If Hollywood had not been completely sexist in the 1950's and if Ida Lupino had been given a budget 1/10th that hundreds of inferior male directors got, it could have been a great film. The fact that she was able to complete it and make it come out as well as it does is a testament to her genius.
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Lupino's perspective is fascinating
aromatic-210 March 2000
This movie turns its characters' souls inside-out, but never deviates from its pacing or its sports theme. Interesting performances punctuate an early 50's version of a woman trying to find her own way by eschew popular convention. The studio ending forced upon Lupino blunts some of the intended effect.
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Despite the title, it's not a J.D. story....
ccmiller149220 July 2006
Despite the title, it's not a J.D. story....HARD: the egotistic, driven opportunist mother (Claire Trevor), FAST: the vacillating but easily influenced ace tennis player daughter (Sally Forrest), and BEAUTIFUL: the always polite, handsome boyfriend with the patience of Job (Robert Clarke) That just about sums it up. Viewers will marvel over how the girl's caring father is completely left out of the whirlwind tours and trips to Europe and ignored while pursuing her career. Outside of her devoted boyfriend, he's the only one who truly cares about her. It takes far too long for the girl to wise up and put her mother in her place, but it's worth watching to finally see it happen.
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blanche-229 December 2013
"Hard, Fast, and Beautiful" from 1951 sounds like one of those racy '50s films that has a luridly colored poster, some babe in a strapless dress being attacked by lecherous man. It is instead a film about a tennis player and her mother - go figure.

This is a small film directed by Ida Lupino. Sally Forrest plays Florence Farley, a young tennis player who shows real talent, so much so that the local country club gives her a membership and then offers to sponsor her in a competition. Claire Trevor plays her ambitious mother, Millie, a disappointed woman who feels that her husband never amounted to anything. Now she has focused all of her attention on her daughter and plans on hitching her wagon to Florence's star.

Florence is eventually discovered by a promoter, Fletcher Locke (Carleton Young) who believes that with the right training on her backhand, she can go all the way. He also is very good at getting around Florence's amateur status and getting money for her. All this is fine with Millie. Then Florence and her boyfriend decide to get married, and he wants her to quit tennis.

I love Claire Trevor, and it's a shame to see a talent such as hers in what is essentially a B movie. The film has a few problems, one of which is, seen today, it's badly dated. A young woman who has devoted hours upon hours of work and wins the U.S. Open, and her fiancé tells her to quit, not bother with a European tour, and she's going to? I understand it was a different time, and women often married and stopped pursuing careers. Nothing wrong with that, but in this case, with a professional career just beginning, it seems odd.

The best parts of the film are the scenes with Flo's father (Kenneth Patterson) who is a gentle man, very proud of his daughter, hurt by his wife, and who just wants Florence's happiness.

All in all, not a very convincing film, with an excellent performance by Trevor, and uneven acting by Forrest and her not very likable boyfriend (Gordon McKay).
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Claire Trevor is the Reason to See This Movie!!
kidboots17 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Ida Lupino's "The Filmmakers" company with Ida in the director's chair were renowned for tackling films on social issues which they tried to film with courage and good taste. "Not Wanted" (1950) dealt with teenage pregnancy, "Outrage" (1950) with rape etc. The following year Ida found a story that has a lot of relevance today , John R. Tunis tennis story "Mother of a Champion" - eventually hitting cinemas as "Hard, Fast and Beautiful", a title apparently devised by Howard Hughes. The role of the mother intrigued Claire Trevor and so "The Filmmakers" were provided with their first "name" star.

Ambitious Millie Farley (a very glamorous Claire Trevor) is sick and tired of her suburban surroundings - she is living through her lovely daughter Florence (Sally Forrest) who is starting to make a name for herself on the tennis circuit. Florence happens to catch the eye of Fletcher Locke (Carleton G. Young) a "builder of champions", a coach and a promoter and with the "pushing" support of him and her mother she wins the Junior championships. As she climbs the tennis ladder she is torn between making her mother proud and being just a normal girl who wants to get married and keeping her close relationship with her father.

Even though the script focused more on Florence's romantic woes, it would have been more successful (I think) if it had concentrated more on what made Millie tick. From the start she was the most interesting character in the movie but the script couldn't decide whether to make her scheming and vain or just a mixed up example of a smothering mother. When she first meets Florence's boyfriend Gordon, she dolls herself up and he comments "you look more like sisters than mother and daughter" and when she meets Fletcher, she believes he is her ticket to riches and high society. That theme is never developed. Still, Miss Trevor plays it with her usual all stops out and with authentic tennis locations filmed at Forest Hills and Miss Forrest looking like she had actually played tennis, all were big pluses.

While touring Europe, Florence realises that her mother is taking gifts for promoting certain items - Florence stays at the Ritz, wears $200 dresses etc while other young players are only scraping by. She is disgusted by it even though earlier in the movie she had innocently accepted $50 for playing in an exhibition match that could have ruined her amateur standing. That is another theme that could have been developed, the graft and corruption were present even at that level of women's tennis. But it went for the "love cures all" side even though the ending was particularly stark, showing Millie who had just lost everything (Florence had turned her back on her to marry and Fletcher is seen in animated conversation with a new up and coming tennis player) sitting alone in a darkened stadium.

In 1945 Ida Lupino saw herself in later years as a developer of new talent and she can certainly add Sally Forrest to the list. Forrest, who looked a little like a young Ida and Claire Trevor, had been a choreographer at MGM but it was in the Lupino directed films that she received her most challenging roles. Ida makes an appearance in "Hard, Fast and Beautiful" ala Hitchcock, she and Robert Ryan appear as part of the tennis crowd.

Highly Recommended.
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Starts well, then loses steam
cabotcove2 June 2000
The acting and the viewpoint had me riveted in my seat in the first half of this little potboiler, before it turns turgid and never recovers. The tennis scenes are well done. This is one of those movies that seems headed for greatness, but in the end disappoints the viewer.
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Very good--but also a VERY odd message.
MartinHafer19 February 2013
Mom is very manipulative but film seems to say a woman's place is being married at home--yet the film was directed by Ida Lupino! Husband is a chauvinist I generally enjoyed "Hard, Fast and Beautiful". Its message about success and a 'stage mother' is timeless. However, it also gives an odd message about women and domesticity that really made no sense--but more about that later.

Sally Forest plays Florence Farley--a young lady who is incredibly gifted at tennis. However, her mother Millie (Claire Trevor) is bent on making her daughter a REAL success. Now this isn't just because she wanted to see the girl succeed but also because the mother loved all the perks that go with it--travel, nice clothes and attention. And, her husband really wasn't important to these plans....just Millie. Now I really liked this, as it seemed like a great indictment of the concept of the stage mother--those insane parents who wan to live vicariously through their famous kids.

There is a serious problem, however. At one point in the film, Sally's boyfriend becomes her fiancé--and he insists that she give up tennis and be the dutiful housewife. Now considering that she just won the US tennis championship and was about to go pro, this seemed just as selfish as Millie. He did NOT ask Florence what she wanted either. BUT, the film showed this as a GOOD thing--like Florence was a fool for not doing 'her master's bidding'--a typically sexist 1950s attitude. Think about it--she was poised at becoming world champion but he really only would accept her if she gave this up!! Now this is VERY hypocritical when you think about it, as the film was made by a woman and stars women! Ida Lupino directed this film--the same actress/director that blew through three famous actor husbands!! So, with this message of domesticity running through the movie, it all seemed like bull and really, really diluted the message.

I would have LOVED the film if it portrayed BOTH the mother and fiancé as selfish and had Florence at least once talk about what she wanted. Instead, the message seems to tell women watching the movie that the ONLY way to success is to completely lose yourself and your dreams to your husband's! It's focus on the manipulative mother and her quest for glory was great--the rest of it really seemed sexist--even for the 1950s. For a better but silly version of this sort of film, try watching "Pat and Mike".
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A Low-Key Highpoint
dougdoepke9 October 2013
Another of Ida Lupino's low-budget, guerilla entries she hoped would find an intimate place between the twin behemoths of 1950's TV and big screen Technicolor. Too bad her effort largely failed. The odds, I suppose, were just too great. Nonetheless, her productions typically tackled difficult subjects otherwise avoided by the behemoths, e.g. rape in The Outrage (1950) and bigamy in The Bigamist (1953). Unfortunately, this obscure entry, dealing with the perils of success, doesn't rise to the level of the other two, but does have its notable moments.

To me, those moments come with the effect that Florence's (Forrest) tennis star success has on her middle-class family, which to that point, seems fairly happy. However, with the success, Mom (Trevor) exults, because now she has a chance to escape a dull suburban existence and indulge her secret desire to social climb among the rich and famous. Meanwhile, daughter Florence starts out as a sweet, unassuming girl, but eventually has her head turned by the new world of big time tennis. These are interesting, but fairly routine developments.

Instead, the really compelling few moments come from Dad and the effect of his daughter's success on him. Now Kenneth Patterson is a name I don't recognize. But here he delivers a really affecting performance as a man who sees his family slipping slowly away from their conventional lives leaving him in an uncertain limbo. Worse, he sees his very manhood undermined by slick promoter Locke (Young) who politely but insistently takes over the lives of his wife and daughter. Catch those few close-ups of Dad trying quietly to comprehend while his home slips away beneath him. Whatever pain he's feeling on the inside, manfully, he won't let it show on the outside. These are minor masterpieces of the collaborative art of camera, script, and performance. The poignancy is made all the more intense by Patterson's refusal to go over the top, and Lupino's awareness that this should be the movie's low-key highpoint.

More generally, Forrest delivers a sprightly performance as an ace tennis player, even if she's not very good at being bitchy. On the other hand, Trevor knows exactly how to convey the self-indulgent behavior of an unfeeling woman, while Clarke has the thankless role of the patient boyfriend. Too bad, Lupino didn't try to buck the banality of the conventional romance, which mars the otherwise rather tough-minded 80-minutes. All in all, it's a well done little film from one of Hollywood's gutsiest figures, and is still worth catching up with.
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how not to handle a tennis prodigy
RanchoTuVu21 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A mom played by film noir star Claire Trevor sees dollars when her daughter (Sally Forrest) becomes a champion tennis player. Made in the 50's when prize money didn't exist, there evidently was enough money under the table to finance a luxurious life of fancy hotels and high society parties. What gives the film its punch is the mother who seems to completely forget about her daughter's welfare, letting her career be run by a sleazy opportunist tennis playboy who pushes the poor girl to exhaustion while steering her away from the better influences of her father and the guy who helped her rise up in the rankings but who eventually sees that she's sold out to the short career of a tennis primadonna. Competently made and entertaining enough to keep one watching, with the story leading to the "tragic" ending when both the daughter and father abandon the greedy mom, thus losing everything.
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masonfisk2 January 2019
Another Ida Lupino directed film from 1951 which tells the familiar story of a backstage mom (in this case in the realm of professional tennis) pushing her phenom daughter to be the best no matter that she already has her sights set on a steady beau & a way out of the racket (sorry for being punny!). Tightly constructed & well acted, this film manages to hit the right notes as the story comes to its inevitable conclusion as no clear winners are called.
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Not wanted glory
dbdumonteil18 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Ida Lupino 's fourth effort is nothing but a turgid melodrama;on the contrary ,it's a story which is told (partly with the mother's voice over) with a great simplicity.

Feminist well before the term became trendy,the director gives the role of the champion to the woman,which was very rare at the time.The hero was most of the time the male actor,and the actress was here to provide the screenplay with the love interest.

But you 've got to pay attention to realize how Lupino was an insightful artist :instead of glorifying her champion,she focuses on the exploitation of the tennis-player by an unscrupulous coach and a greedy mother whose husband never gave her the life she thinks she deserves .When they take their champion to the court,she looks like a prisoner between two cops.Claire Trevor shines in her role of a still attractive woman who realizes that life is passing her by and who would do anything to gain fortune and fame (through her daughter),no matter if her husband is seriously ill in the hospital.Millie is not unlike the other mother in "no wanted" ,both dominate their husband ,but only Millie can enter the world she longs for.Sally Forrest was Lupino's double and was featured in three of her movies ,all worth watching (for the record,"not wanted" and " never fear" aka" the young lovers").

You may say the ending is not "feminist" ,that in the end the champion will turn into an housewife.But her biggest victory was to defeat her mother who sits alone on the steps with the cup in her hands as the night is falling on the court.
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match point
marcar9127 November 2018
The combination of director Ida Lupino, stage/sports mother Claire Trevor and screenwriter Martha Wilkerson make this 1951 movie a winner. Although the story closely resembles the classic "Mildred Pierce", these three women and Sally Forrest who plays the railroaded daughter, combine to make the movie better than its B-picture status. The final shot of Trevor sitting in the empty stands, coiffed hair rumpled, perfect posture slouched and no one else in sight really gives a melancholy emotional conclusion to the film. Although alone, with newspapers and debris blowing across the empty tennis court, she still hears the sounds of her daughter's triumphs with tennis balls hitting racquets over and over and over. It's a fitting end to this monster of a mother movie. While it's not a great movie it is a good one and worth watching for the intense relationship/rivalry between the mother and daughter. Though we may have seen this "type" of movie before, the women involved bring it to a fever pitch and bring a uniquely women's perspective to this tale.
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Ternnis Mom
bkoganbing7 November 2018
Claire Trevor stars and owns this movie about a woman who decides that the best way to get the good things in life is through her daughter's skill with a tennis racket. Sally Forrest is the daughter who if she had her own way would settle down with Robert Clarke the boy next door and play tennis for fun. Stan Musial had a great philosophy in that he knew it was time to quit when he no longer had fun just playing the game. Too many don't feel that way.

And too many live vicariously through their children. The best portrayal of that phenomenon was Jo Van Fleet in I'll Cry Tomorrow. But Lillian Roth's stage mother had nothing on Trevor as she guides and manipulates Forrest and her career.

Hard, Fast And Beautiful also joins the ranks of films that takes a solid look at our peculiar view of amateur and professional sports and the problems that causes.

The scene when Trevor and Forrest finally level with each other is a classic. So is the deathbed scene with them and her beloved but weak father Kenneth Patterson. Look for Carleton G. Young as well as the tennis coach also hoping to live off the Forrest gravy train.

Most of all this is for fans of Claire Trevor.
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The rare tennis drama, from director Ida Lupino with Claire Trevor, Sally Forrest
jacobs-greenwood20 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Directed by Ida Lupino, with a screenplay by Martha Wilkerson that was based on a novel by John R. Tunis, this B movie sports drama is one of very few films that feature the game of tennis. It stars Claire Trevor as Millie Farley, an ambitious woman whose daughter Florence, played by Sally Forrest, is good enough to beat her peers, some men, and all-comers in her area on the court. Her talents are noticed by a promoter-coach named Fletcher Locke (Carleton Young), who knows all the angles (e.g. how a great player can profit financially in the days when amateur tennis and its restrictions were commonplace). He's also perceptive enough to see that the best way to retain Florence is through her greedy mother, and he's got the charm to exploit that avenue to get what he wants, though Millie is a more than willing accomplice (especially when Fletcher offers her Europe). The only hitch in these adults' plans is Gordon McKay (Robert Clarke), the local boy who 'discovered' Florence; the two youngsters are in love and plan to get married. Florence's father Will (Kenneth Patterson) loves his daughter but is too weak, physically and compared to her mother/his wife, to do much to inhibit Millie's ambitions and planned exploitation of her daughter. The romance between Florence and Gordon is sabotaged by Millie, but a happy ending is later delivered.

Trevor plays Millie like a pushy, manipulative (though not completely overbearing) stage mom of a child prodigy. Her character's husband has provided her with a middle class home, but she wants more, so she uses her daughter to get it. Forrest is athletic enough to fake it as Florence playing tennis, though the editing helped (and several shots which are obviously going out are kept in play by her opponents) and some faraway shots (with real players) are utilized. Radio commentator Arthur Little Jr. appears as himself at Forest Hills, the location of the National Championships (now known as the U.S. Open) where Florence wins, and later defends her title. Except for the club courts shown at the beginning of the film, all the tennis action takes place on grass, which was more common in those days. Wimbledon is one of the only grass court tournaments played today; the grass court season now is only a few weeks long (after the French Open in late May effectively ends the clay court season until the beginning of the All England Club tournament in late June). However, in the movie, Florence's entire European tour is played on grass. Unlike some films which only show snippets or a few points of tennis action, this one includes parts of several matches including extended points beginning with the serve, featuring groundstrokes from both sides, volleys, and overheads (as well as correct scoring). The wood racquets used by the players appear to be of the Jack Kramer variety.

Actor Robert Ryan and director Lupino appear uncredited as spectators in the crowd at one tournament.
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turgid melodrama has its moments
monkeyface_si7 July 2001
Overall, this is nothing special. The tennis scenes are very well directed. The mother-daughter-scenes are keepers. And the dialogue contains some great double entendres. But, the love story has no chemistry and demands no personal involvement. It is a "B" melodrama, not much more, nothing less.
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gkeith_18 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The jealous boyfriend should have backed off. The girl was obviously too young to get married, by today's standards. I just had an 'older' friend pass away, who in 1951 (the year of this movie) was a new bride. The friend never went to college. She just married her 'high school sweetheart' and had several children, then later grandchildren. No life of her own, just revolving around the husband and children. She recently told me she was a 'slave' to her marriage, yet at her funeral the speakers lauded what a wonderful mother she was. Yes, at the expense of her own life and interests. According to this movie, women were supposed to just drop their own interests and cater to their husband's ambitions. Even though the mother & daughter in this movie were the recipients of lots of expensive accoutrements, the daughter should have still been allowed to finish her career, AND THEN GO TO COLLEGE!!! By today's standards, educated women wait until about age 30 to get married. They have their own careers, and NEVER drop their ambitions for a man. Let the man grovel. If he wants to get married so badly, let him marry somebody else.
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Misses being a good movie.
denscul8 September 2000
Going from a rank amateur to the top ranks of any sport should be enough to make a good story and movie. I don't know whether the plot, the director or studio is to blame, but trying to inject a mother's domination and an slick promoter into the picture did not work because it dominated the story, certainly more than it should. Anyone who has played tennis, or any sport would recognize the scenes of the promoter attempting to coach Ms Farley's backhand are close to laughable. This movie was made in 1951. This movie and others like it, could no longer compete with television. It is still worth watching, especially if your interested in Tennis.
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If you never see a an Ida Lupino-directed film...
WarnersBrother23 February 2008
...PLEASE make it this one.

I love Ida Lupino as an Actor, and more so as a Director. I love Claire Trevor. This truly disappoints.

Turgid Potboiler, and you can sit there and write-ahead on the plot.

IMDb requires ten lines of text for this opinion to pass. That would be a review, not an opinion.

SEE Claire Trevor in "Key Largo"!

SEE Ida Lupino in "They Drive By Night"!

SEE Ida Lupino Direct "The Hitchhiker"!

SEE them when this is on another channel!
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