Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


EXECUTIVE SUITE (1954). Director: Robert Wise.

Avery Bullard, the head of Tredway Furniture Corporation, drops dead on a city street and a war begins over which of the executive directors will take charge of the company. The most interesting aspect of this picture is the opening, in which we see everything from Bullard's point of view (we never actually see Bullard). Then the picture just about talks itself to death, coming to life only sporadically whenever Barbara Stanwyck comes on as Julia Tredwell, wringing her hands, and yelling at one or two of the other characters. What this picture needs is a lot more of Stanwyck and a lot less of June Allyson, who is at her most perfectly cloying as William Holden's drippy wife. Fredric March, Nina Foch, Shelley Winters, Paul Douglas, and especially Louis Calhern all give good performances, however, with Stanwyck being the zippiest. Holden is adequate, and Walter Pidgeon is a bit better than usual in more of a character part. The funniest sections of the film -- which hasn't many laughs, just talk -- have to do with Calhern and his pretty, ever-hungry mistress. Allyson was a lot better in Woman's World, which came out the same year, had a similar premise, and was a much more entertaining movie.

Verdict: Given how little the women have to do in this film, it's a man's world after all. *1/2.

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