Hard, Fast and Beautiful

Watch Hard, Fast and Beautiful

"The Price Of Fame In The Big-Time Sports Racket!"
  • Passed
  • 1951
  • 1 hr 18 min
  • 6.2  (651)

Hard, Fast and Beautiful is a black-and-white sports drama film released in 1951 and directed by Ida Lupino, who was one of the first female directors in Hollywood and a pioneering woman in the industry. The movie stars notable actors Claire Trevor, Sally Forrest, and Carleton G. Young and is based on the novel "American Girl" by John R. Tunis.

The story revolves around Florence Farley (played by Sally Forrest), a young, highly talented tennis player who rises from small-town beginnings to reach the upper echelons of the tennis world. Florence is portrayed as a natural athlete, her prowess on the tennis court evident from the opening scenes. As the daughter of Milly Farley (Claire Trevor) and Will Farley (Kenneth Patterson), Florence's ascent in the tennis world becomes both a source of pride and a vehicle for ambition.

Florence's mother, Milly, is a key figure in the film, exhibiting a complex interplay of characteristics. Milly's ambitions for her daughter border on the obsessive, and as Florence begins to climb the ladder of success, Milly becomes increasingly controlling and driven by the prospects of fame and financial reward. Milly's transformation from a supportive mother to an overbearing manager who prioritizes success over her daughter's well-being is one of the critical themes of the narrative.

Will Farley, on the other hand, is a more subdued character, often in the shadow of his wife's aspirations. Fletcher Locke (Carleton G. Young), a skilled tennis promoter, notices Florence's potential and becomes instrumental in her tennis career, but his intentions are not without self-interest. Locke's role is vital in bringing Florence into the competitive circuit, yet his strategies and involvement raise questions about the commercialization of sport and the effects of external pressures on athletes.

The film weaves a tale that explores the challenges and sacrifices made for the sake of sports stardom. As Florence's reputation grows and she starts to compete in important tournaments, the strain on her personal life and relationships increases. With each match and victory, the stakes become higher, not just for Florence but also for those around her who are invested in her success.

Florence's journey is not just about the physical demands of the sport; the emotional turmoil that comes with balancing her own desires against her mother's expectations plays a significant role in her character's development. While tennis matches provide the backdrop for much of the story, it is this inner conflict along with the familial dynamics that form the film's heart.

Hard, Fast and Beautiful is also a reflection of women in sports during the early 1950s. It subtly touches on gender roles and expectations at the time, showcasing the limitations and opportunities available to female athletes. The film illustrates the uncharted territory women were navigating in professional sports, and how their successes were often overshadowed by the male figures surrounding them, whether they be promoters, coaches, or family members.

Ida Lupino's direction is noted for its ability to address these complex issues without losing grip on the human story at the film's core. The inclusion of actual tennis matches and the depiction of the athleticism required by the sport add a layer of realism to the movie, while the actors deliver convincing performances, particularly Claire Trevor as the ambitious mother whose personality is both compelling and tragically flawed.

The visual storytelling is characteristic of the era, with deep focus shots and careful framing that highlight the tension during the games, as well as the personal moments of reflection and doubt experienced by Florence. The cinematography, while not overly stylized, effectively captures the essence of the various settings, from the intimate environment of the Farley household to the expansive and bustling atmosphere of professional tennis courts.

Though not often remembered among the most iconic sports films, Hard, Fast and Beautiful stands out as a poignant commentary on the nature of ambition, the pressures of sports fame, and the cost of success. It offers a glimpse into the historically specific challenges for women in athletics and remains a thoughtful piece embedded with broader social themes relevant to its time. The movie's take on the price of victory and the intricate relationship between a mother and her daughter makes it a compelling watch, especially for viewers interested in earlier examples of sports drama and groundbreaking female filmmakers like Ida Lupino.

Hard, Fast and Beautiful
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 18 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.2  (651)