Friday, July 03, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Woman's World (1954)

WOMAN'S WORLD features a stellar cast in an entertaining tale of mid-'50s New York business life.

Clifton Webb stars as Ernest Gifford, the head of a major car company, who is looking for a new righthand man. Gifford summons three of his most successful executives and their wives to New York to interview them -- including the wives -- for the position.

Cornel Wilde and June Allyson play the cute, so-in-love young couple from Kansas City, who aren't sure they really want to move their young family to New York for a demanding job. Fred MacMurray and Lauren Bacall play a Philadelphia couple at odds over the impact his dedication to his career is having on his health and their marriage. The final husband and wife, hailing from Texas, are played by Van Heflin and Arlene Dahl; she's a predatory barracuda willing to do anything to see her husband get ahead and move to New York City.

June Allyson happened to star in two movies about the business world in 1954; the other title was the better-known EXECUTIVE SUITE. Her role as the almost childlike wife is a bit over the top, but Allyson gives it her all, and her relationship with the ever-indulgent Wilde is appealingly portrayed.

Bacall and MacMurray are excellent as the couple struggling to save their marriage. Van Heflin is always an interesting actor but he has the least to do of the six husbands and wives, while Dahl is busy chewing the scenery as she pursues Webb and the job.

Webb is fun as usual, and Margalo Gillmore and Elliott Reid offer strong support as his sister and nephew.

There's a great inside joke in the movie: Clifton Webb's character has a wall filled with portraits of beautiful women. Included on the wall is the famous portrait of Gene Tierney as LAURA, a film Webb starred in a decade previously.

The eye-catching cars seen in the film were designed by Ford Motor Company.

The movie is a great example of the sleek Fox style of the mid-'50s, including Technicolor, CinemaScope, and a catchy title song (sung in this case by the Four Aces) -- a formula utilized in numerous other films of the era, including HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (1953) and THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN (1954). These two titles, like WOMAN'S WORLD, were directed by Jean Negulesco. Negulesco's films TAKE CARE OF MY LITTLE GIRL (1951) and DADDY LONG LEGS (1955) were both reviewed here in January.

The movie runs 94 minutes.

WOMAN'S WORLD can be seen from time to time on Fox Movie Channel. It's also available on VHS.

4 Comments:

Blogger Irene said...

I love any Cliffton Web movie and this sounds like a great cast all around. The county library has 3 copies and so I've requested it.

I currently have 3 movies from the library to watch this weekend: Three Smart Girls Grow Up, It Happens Every Spring and Mogambo.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Wow, that's a great weekend lineup, Irene! Hope you enjoy them. Let me know what you think.

WOMAN'S WORLD is quite diverting, I hope you'll have fun watching it when it arrives!

Happy holiday weekend!

Best wishes,
Laura

8:37 AM  
Blogger Mary Mcgarvey said...

A great film even if the final twist can leave you wondering about the role of woman in the car world. Or let us say, the business world of the 1950's... This just played last night on TCM and I had seen Brooklyn, the Irish film of a new young country immigrant from Ireland arriving in Nee York in 1952. Interesting contrasts in the roles of the working class women such as Eilis and the sophisticated and unemployed wives of these executives. These women were the customers that Eilis, the Irish immigrant, was waiting on at the department store. B

11:30 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Mary,

Thanks for your thoughts! I also enjoyed BROOKLYN a few weeks ago -- interesting insight thinking of Eilis's story being the flip side of WOMAN'S WORLD. I'd like to take another look at WOMAN'S WORLD.

Best wishes,
Laura

12:57 PM  

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