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Avery Bullard, President of the Tredway Corporation has died. But he never named a clear successor, so the Board members must choose a replacement. The most likely is Loren Shaw, a skilled businessman, but some of the others don't like his calculating ways. But to stop him, they'll have to find someone else they can back. Will it be the engineer Don Walling? That will take convincing, they don't trust his youth and idealism. And he isn't even sure he wants the job, he might be happier creating rather than politicking. Written by
Ken Yousten <email@example.com>
This was one of the few Hollywood films of the era not to have a musical score. The opening credits are shown to the accompaniment of traffic noises and the tolling of a bell. See more »
Mic shadow on curtain of Shaw's office when Shaw is trying to persuade Caswell to vote for him as company president. See more »
[pre-opening-credits sequence; views of skyscrapers]
It is always up there, close to the clouds, on the topmost floors of the sky-reaching towers of big business. And because it is high in the sky, you may think that those who work there are somehow above and beyond the tensions and temptations of the lower floors. This is to say that it isn't so.
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A rare look into the business of running a business - a corporation - this is surprisingly entertaining, for adults, I would gather. In the first few minutes, we observe the death of the President of this company, from his p.o.v.-an artful beginning from director Wise. There are 5 Vice Presidents, all of equal rank. One of them will be the new Prez. The selection procedure is pretty simple. The Board, comprised of 7 members (2 other stockholders besides the 5 V.P.'s) votes yes or no on whomever is nominated. 4 'yes' votes or more gets the job.
The cast is superb, really first rate, but the one to watch, for me, was Fredric March as Shaw, the V.P./Controller, whose sole criteria for success is the bottom line. He's smooth, too smooth, and sweats a bit too much. You'll note that nothing is ever seen of his private life, unlike the others. All his energy is geared around the company, but ultimately for his own benefit, even if he doesn't see it that way. All the actors are very articulate, delivering their lines with impressive precision. The maneuvering done by each of the 5 V.P.'s is something to see; one front-runner (Pidgeon) for the top job seems a shoo-in, but just as quickly this sense evaporates. Any of the 5 appears to be the man for the job at one point or another - the decision and vote needs to be reached quickly, before the company starts to suffer, so we add tension to the plot.
This picture has not really dated 50 years later, as much of the sensibilities and office politics remain unchanged today. There may be more sleaziness and unscrupulous behavior nowadays, but even this is presented in the form of one of the board members (Calhern), a sneak who sees the death of the President as just another way to make some money in stocks. After checking this out, you may want to catch the documentary "The Corporation" to get a little more insight into such an entity.
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