Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Class of '54: Woman's World

We are looking at some favourites from one of my favourite years: 1954 - when I was 8 and discovered movies (starting with JOHNNY GUITAR and A STAR IS BORN), as per the 1954 label here.
Today its back to Jean Negulesco's comedy-drama WOMAN''S WORLD which finally is available in a good print, so I can chuck my ropey copy.  We have covered this here before, but its one movie that bears repeated views. As I said back in 2011: 

For me this 1954 Fox movie is the '50s in aspic. Its a fabulously entertaining variation on the '3 girls sharing an apartment and looking for love' genre that Fox and director Jean Negulesco did so well (HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE3 COINS IN THE FOUNTAINTHE BEST OF EVERYTHING, THE PLEASURE SEEKERS) - here the 3 girls are married and visiting New York - cue great views of '50s Manhattan - as Clifton Webb, the head of a motor company, has to choose a new general manager so the top 3 candidates and their wives are being vetted too to see if they are suitable material for company events.
The 3 couples are out-of-towners Cornel Wilde and ditzy (or is she?) June Allyson, sophisticates on the point of divorcing Lauren Bacall and Fred McMurray, and ambitious Van Heflin and Arlene Dahl who will go to any lengths to get her man the position. The gals get to wear to some marvellous frocks, Allyson and Bacall play their usual personas so the unknown quantity here is Dahl who steals the film - particuarly when she enters poured into that green clinging sheath with a divine little fur-trimmed bolero which she knowingly removes as she puts the make on Clifton and lets him see how grateful she will be if Van is the man. June spills coffee on her cocktail dress so she can get to be alone with Clifton's all-wise sister Margalo Gilmore (who is advising him), while Bacall gets the measure of Dahl: "have a cookie, cookie"! Those early Fifties automobiles look good too as Clifton gets the measure of his three candidates at the factory .... 

Finally, once the manager is announced (right man, wrong wife - but that is soon rectified) they can all eat dinner! Clifton is in his element here and even seems to be (can it be possible in '54) a coded gay as he is not married and seems devoted to his general managers. Whatever, its an absolute treat to see anytime, a nice contrast to that other '54 star-studded executive drama EXECUTIVE SUITE. Arlene Dahl is the only cast member still here in her late 80s. 

Its one of a dozen or so '50s movies I simply adore - not classics like EAST OF EDENSUNSET BOULEVARDALL ABOUT EVE or A STAR IS BORN (though of course I love them too), but simple splashy, star-studded entertainments where fabulous gals wear fabulous clothes and live the high life, or the most delirious costume epics [more on them at Glamour label]. 
As well as WOMAN'S WORLD, bring on THE OPPOSITE SEXDESIGNING WOMANLES GIRLSTHE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTEHOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRETHE BEST OF EVERYTHINGJUPITER'S DARLINGITS ALWAYS FAIR WEATHERQUENTIN DURWARDMOONFLEETTHE PRODIGALTHE EGYPTIAN ... i enjoyed all those as a kid, and still do now.
Next 1954 revival: THE SILVER CHALICE.

8 comments:

  1. Love, love, love this film!! It's one of my comfort movies that I can watch no matter what mood I'm in and by the end I'm blissed out.

    There isn't a weak link in the cast and Dahl does manage to steal her share of scenes but I've always felt that Betty Bacall with her ultra cool demeanor was the film's MVP. I could listen to her wry response to MacMurray as they approach New York "I saw daylight years ago" on an endless loop.

    I'm also particularly fond of Margalo Gilmore, she and Webb have a nice give and take that has the feeling of siblings. A treat from start to finish!

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  2. Yes Margalo is delightful - as she was as Grace's mother in HIGH SOCIETY. Dahl is still going, she was good too sparring with Mason in JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH in 1959, I should look out for her other roles ...

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  3. I told you my memory is fading so don't ever bitch at me again for not replying to something etc. I THINK I saw this but I really have no memory of it. I certainly haven't seen it in cinemascope and never in the same but I do think I saw it years ago on television.

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  4. Its one to see again and keep for a rainy afternoon. Put it on your wish list.

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