Thursday, June 4, 2009
WOMAN'S WORLD (1954). Director: Jean Negulesco.
"New York is the most fabulous, exciting, thrilling city in the world!"
This is a very entertaining, handsomely produced comedy-drama with a simple premise. Ernest Gifford (Clifton Webb), the President of Gifford Motors, needs a new general manager after the man in that position dies. He calls three district managers and their wives to New York so he and his sister can look them over. Gifford knows that the man who gets the job will need to have a wife who can also do her part on the social end, and who will understand that the job might have to come first. Katie and Bill Baxter (June Allyson; Cornel Wilde) are small-towners and the wife wants to keep it that way. Liz and Sid Burns (Lauren Bacall; Fred MacMurray) are actually in the midst of a marriage crisis, with the wife already thinking that the business has taken her husband away from her and given him an ulcer. When it comes to third couple Carol and Jerry Talbot (Arlene Dahl; Van Heflin), the wife has fallen in love with the city and all it offers while the husband fears he's too frank to be given the job. The picture works up some nice suspense as to who will be offered the position while offering serio-comic vignettes about each marriage and how each wife sees her position in it. Director Negulesco has gotten fine performances from the entire cast, with Webb his usual superb self, and especially nice work from MacMurray. Dahl is sexy and zesty as the slightly amoral Carol; one of her better performances. Allyson and Wilde make the Baxters a very appealing couple. [No mean feat, as this writer generally can't stomach June Allyson.]
Verdict: It ain't Shakespeare, but it's fun! ***.