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Executive Suite (1954) Poster

Trivia

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.
The entire story takes place during the 24 hour period from Friday afternoon, June 19 1953 to Saturday afternoon, June 20 1953.
Producer John Houseman wanted Henry Fonda for the role of McDonald Walling. Fonda turned him down to star in a Broadway musical that never reached the stage.
For years it was believed that NBC news anchor Chet Huntley, who narrates the opening of the film, also played Avery Bullard, when in fact he did not. The role was played by Raoul Freeman. Neither Huntley nor Freeman received screen credit.
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.
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In addition to the Tredway Corporation headquarters building seen in exterior shots being the Pennsylvania Power & Light (PPL) building in Allentown, Pennsylvania, additional evidence that the fictional community of "Millburgh, PA" is patterned after Allentown is that it was also the only city in Pennsylvania other than Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (which Millburgh clearly is not) that was served by United Airlines in 1950. When Mr. Shaw drops Walt Dudley off at the airport on Friday evening the flight being announced is "Flight 79 to Pittsburgh and Chicago" and the aircraft seen at the gate is a UAL DC-3; Dudley is also arrives back from Chicago on Saturday in a UAL DC-3. (Curiously while waiting for Mr. Bullard to arrive for the 6PM Executive Committee meeting on Friday Mr. Dudley says that he has a "7PM date with a DC-6" which is clearly incorrect.) UAL began service to Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton Airport in 1935. (The airport scenes in the film were actually shot at Long Beach Airport south of Los Angeles.) The twin cities of Bethlehem and Allentown also had direct passenger rail service from New York City in 1950 via the Lehigh Valley Railroad (from Pennsylvania Station at 33rd St and 8th Ave) and the Jersey Central Railroad (from Liberty-Courtland Street) with the 88 mile trip taking about two hours. There is also a St. Martin's church in Allentown where the funeral was expected to be.
This was the first film in the distinguished career of screenwriter Ernest Lehman. Lehman was paid the industry minimum of $600 per week for his work on this film. However, within two years, Lehman would earn approximately 100 times that amount for his work.
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When William Holden returns home from the airport in this MGM film, we hear his baseball playing son singing off-camera the tune to "Singin' In the Rain," music by Nacio Herb Brown and lyrics by the head of the studio's celebrated musical unit, Arthur Freed. The song appears in many a film from The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929) to A Clockwork Orange (1971), and most famously in the Gene Kelly MGM film of the same name.
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The source material for this film came from the eponymous novel by Cameron Hawley. Hawley based the book, in part, on his own experiences working for the Armstrong Cork Company in Pennsylvania.
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Barbara Stanwyck worked less than seven days on this film.
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The Tredway Corporation headquarters building seen in exterior shots is actually the Pennsylvania Power & Light (PPL) building in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
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Serious critiques of American corporate culture were rather rare in Hollywood at the time, and as a result MGM and the film's producers had to take extraordinary measures to ensure that the film would the scrutiny of censors. Producer John Houseman was forced to swear in writing that he had never been a communist by the House on Un-American Activities Committee.
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The film cast includes four Oscar winners: William Holden, Fredric March, Dean Jagger and Shelley Winters; and four Oscar nominees: Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Pidgeon, Nina Foch and Louis Calhern.
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According to Oliver Stone, who did the commentary on the DVD for this film, the beginning was narrated by Edward R. Murrow.
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This marked the first of four successful collaborations between director Robert Wise and screenwriter Ernest Lehman. They also worked together on Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), West Side Story (1961), and The Sound of Music (1965).
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This film did well at the box office for MGM, earning a profit of $772,000 ($7M in 2017) according to studio records.
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