Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What if they colorized Execuitve Suite?

I've mentioned the 1954 movie Execuite Suite before, about the boardroom shenanigans that go on when a business has to replace its deceased CEO. Fox made a similar movie the same year, only in Technicolor; that movie, Woman's World, airs on the Fox Movie Channel tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM ET.

In Woman's World, Ernest Gifford (played by Clifton Webb) is the head of the Gifford car company. He's looking for a new #2, who can possibly replace him after he retires. However, he's also got the belief that behind the right man for the job, you also need the right wife. Therefore, Gifford plans to bring the three candidates for the job to the New York headquarters, along with their wives. Of course, the wives have their own flaw, in addition to those the husbands have. Those couples are:

Cornel Wilde and June Allyson. Wilde is devoted to his wife, and isn't certain if he wants to sacrifice the nice midwestern life he has in favor of a higher position. Allyson seems to feel the same way, and besides, she's incredibly klutzy and socially ungraceful, which give the movie its few chances at humor.

Fred MacMurray and Lauren Bacall. MacMurray really wants the job, to the extent that he's become a workaholic, and made the sacrifice that Wilde doesn't really want to. This has come at the cost of an impending divorce; Bacall is really only willing to go in on the charade of being a happily married couple until MacMurray can get the job.

Van Heflin and Arlene Dahl. Heflin wants the job too, but the one in this family who really wants it is Dahl, who is willing to go to much further lengths than either of the other wives. But is she willing to go too far?

Woman's World is a movie that deserves to be described with a lot of positive adjectives. And yet, there's something about it that's not quite as good as Executive Suite. Sure, the acting is competent. The characterizations are accurate, with the possible exception of the Allyson character, who seems just a bit too lacking in the social graces. The cinematography is very pretty; Woman's World was one of the Fox Technicolor and Cinemascope features made to try to draw TV viewers back into the movie theaters. As a result, the depictions of New York in the 1950s are lovely to look at, especially those 50s cars and fashions. The plot is sound if nothing groundbreaking, resulting in the ensemble finale which plays out much like a Thin Man movies, only with Webb fingering each husband as the winner of the job until naming the real winner. The plot does nothing to make any of the three men's winning the job seem unrealistic, yet at the same time provides a suitably happy ending.

And perhaps, that's the problem with Woman's World. It's suitable and competent, but not special. Still, there's nothing wrong with it, and it's certainly entertaining -- and, as I said, easy on the eyes. Despite have an all-star cast, Woman's World never made it to DVD, so you're going to have to catch one of the Fox Movie Channel showings.

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