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Executive Suite (1954)

Passed | | Drama | 9 September 1954 (Italy)
When the head of a large manufacturing firm dies suddenly from a stroke, his vice-presidents vie to see who will replace him.

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(screen play), (based on the novel by)
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Frederick Y. Alderson
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...
...
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Jesse Q. Grimm
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Erica Martin
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Mike Walling
William Phipps ...
Bill Lundeen
Lucy Knoch ...
Mrs. George Nyle Caswell (as Lucille Knoch)
Edgar Stehli ...
Mary Adams ...
Sara Asenath Grimm
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Storyline

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 <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Behind the lighted tower windows the conflict of love and power is reckless and daring!

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 September 1954 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Cuando llama el deseo  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

While the practice of including a large, all-star cast had been popular in the 1930s, particularly with films such as Grand Hotel (1932) and Dinner at Eight (1933), it was a relatively rare occurrence in the 1950s. Producer John Houseman admitted many years after the film's production that the decision to cast so many recognizable stars was part of an effort by MGM to compete with the soaring popularity of television. See more »

Goofs

Although the film takes place on June 19-20, 1953, when Don and Mary Walling are driving home from the plant the first night, all the cars seen parked along the street in the rear projection through the car's windows date from not later than about 1940. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[pre-opening-credits sequence; views of skyscrapers]
Narrator: 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.
See more »

Connections

Remade as Executive Suite (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Singin' in the Rain
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics by Arthur Freed
Hummed by Tim Considine
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User Reviews

 
Corporate maneuvers
10 May 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

Herbert Lehman, the adapter of the novel that serves as the basis for this corporate drama makes a tremendous contribution with his screen play. Little seems to have changed in the way corporate America did business then, which it still holds true today. The film, as directed by Robert Wise, keeps us involved in the maneuvers the executives of the company do behind the scenes when the head of the company dies suddenly.

We are given a gripping drama as to what goes on among all the possible candidates to take the helm of the business. There will only be a winner, but who can be the most qualified person to take the company to do better than it had performed under the dead man? Would it be the ambitious Loren Shaw, a man with facts and figures at the tip of his fingers? Would it be Frederich Alderan, the man who has dedicated almost 30 years of his life to the business? Or would it be McDonald Walling, the younger man who knows what's wrong with the way the company has been turning inferior products to its customers?

The all star cast assembled for the film do an outstanding job guided by Mr. Wise, the director. William Holden plays Walling, the youngest of all the executives. Mr. Holden gave an inspired performance as the man who knows where the focus of the company should be, and he is decent enough not to want to be seen as pushing to get the CEO's job.

Fredric March, one of the best actors of his generation, is one of the best things in the film. His ambitious Loren Shaw, clearly, the man who makes no bones about his aspirations, is one of the best roles he played for the screen. Mr. March's portrayal of the ruthless Shaw gives us an idea of how driven some people in those high places will react knowing the power they'll yield, not caring how they will affect the lives of those under them.

The rest of the players are good. Barbara Stanwyck has a small part as the daughter of the man that created Treadway. Walter Pigeon is Fred, the man who has given his life to this company. Paul Douglas is Walter, the straying man having an illicit relation with his secretary. Louis Calhern is the reptilian Casswell, who stands to make a lot of money out of his gamble to back up Shaw. Nina Foch, the executive secretary Erica, does a fine job in projecting the sadness of a lonely woman who has probably loved the dead man Bullard. Shelley Winters only has a couple of scenes as Eva, the secretary that suddenly sees the light in her situation with Walter.

The film offers a good look at the financial district of New York as it looked in those years. It's sad to realize what the recent events have done to that part of Manhattan and how different it looks today!


19 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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