If she's a social climber, wife Arlene Dahl says, why not climb in New York, the Mount Everest of cities. As she points out, all the important people are there, and she's just one of three wives finding life in the big apple and hoping that their husband will be picked for the top position in powerful Clifton Webb's huge car manufacturer. Dahl's married to Van Heflin, and she's the seemingly most happy of the three. The other wives are unhappy Lauren Bacall (married to the very busy Fred MacMurray) and possible dipsomaniac June Allyson (married to Cornel Wilde). Which one will Webb choose?, to paraphrase a song from an even bigger blockbuster 20th Century Fox blockbuster.
Opening up with a rather bland title song, this seems to be using the globe later turned on daytime's "As the World Turns", a bit of a soap opera and not the complex personal drama of MGM's "Executive Suite". A clichéd script tries to give each character some motivation and purpose, but they are more archetypes rather than flesh and blood. Clifton Webb seems to be there as some sort of figurehead, and fortunately, there's no phony attempt to make him unbelievably masculine. He's still Waldo Lydecker here, minus the goose quill dipped in venom and the rifle filled with buckshot.
Of the three coupled pairings, not one of them seem to be believable, the worst pairing the nervous Allyson and the watchful Wilde. It's interesting to see MacMurray and Bacall together, considering MacMurray's pairing with Bacall's hubby Bogie in the same year's "The Caine Mutiny". Dahl steals her scenes easily, but her oomph is refreshing over the drunk Donna Reed act of Allyson's and Bacall's cold performance.
Great location photography of New York is highlighted by a scene in a department store bargain basement with all sorts of chicanery of the customers to get the dress they want. This film seems to be suffering from too many mood swings, refreshingly comic one moment then dour almost immediately after. Webb, who observes he's got the right man but wrong wife, certainly has a tough decision to make, but not one of the six men or women had me really rooting for them. This woman's world is not a dream world, as far as cinema is concerned.
Needing to fill the position of general manager of his company, and believing that an executive's wife is crucial to her husband's success, auto industry mogul Gifford brings three couples to New York to size up: Jerry and Carol: he hard-driven and self-reliant, she willing to use her beauty to further her husband's career; Sid and Elizabeth, he ulcer-ridden and torn between achieving success and restoring their troubled marriage, she positive that his job will kill him, but gamely agreeing to play the good wife for the duration; and down-to-earth Bill, whose good-natured Katie fears that his promotion would spell the end of their idyllic familiy existence.
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October 30, 2017 at 01:54 AM