With her unofficial fiancé Eddie Harris studying in England for a year, Radcliffe educated Caroline Bender decides to get her first ever job as a secretary at Manhattan located Fabian Publishing, which offers its employees "the best of everything". There, she finds her story is somewhat similar to all the other secretaries, who are biding their time in the secretarial pool either before getting married - to a current or future beau - or moving on to their dream job. In the latter category is aspiring actress Gregg Adams, who with fellow secretary, the naive and inexperienced April Morrison, become Caroline's new roommates. Caroline also finds that as a secretary to the editors, she has to learn the special needs and foibles of each. They include the "witch" Amanda Farrow whose demanding exterior masks a truly lonely woman, the aging Lothario Fred Shalimar, and the understanding Mike Rice, whose best friend is a bottle of booze. The path to true happiness for each of Caroline, Gregg ... Written by
Caroline Bender (Hope Lange) is just killing time getting a job. Her real ambition is to marry Eddie and have a baby.
April (Diane Baker) is too innocent to stay that way for long and falls in love too easily, a dangerous combo.
Greg (Suzy Parker) is a go-getter and wants to be an actress.
All three are doomed for dramatics in 'The Best of Everything', a 1959 soap opera/morality play/sometimes solid movie that is aging by the second.
Set in the cut-throat world of paperback publishing, its not as trashy as "Valley of the Dolls" but not as vanilla as "Three Coins in the Fountain."
The men in the mix - Brian Aherne, Stephen Boyd, Louis Jourdan and Robert Evans - are slick, well-dressed and no good, for the most part. Aherne is the resident sexual offender - will pinch anything walking by, and makes unwanted advances right and left. His character is offensive as hell, but its not played seriously at all. Harassment hadn't been discovered yet, I guess. Boyd works there, too, although you never see him actually doing anything. He's too busy being older, wiser and drunker. Evans is abroad just so Diane Baker can suffer in style - he's a rich kid who's gotten her in 'trouble' so instead of marrying her, as promised, he's taking her to get an 'operation.'
Jourdan is a director who mistakenly has an affair with Parker. They share a fight scene which is fairly no-holds barred, in a movie like this anyway, but the scene is ultimately ruined by Parker's histronics. She ends up nearly stalking him, and she really didn't deserve such a lousy fate, her bad acting notwithstanding.
Joan Crawford breathes fire as Amanda Farrow, the resident 'witch' who is automatically rude and dismissive of any of her legion of secretaries. Well they are younger, aren't they? Isn't that sufficient reason to hate a person? Caroline doesn't think so, as she admirably stands up to Miss Farrow every chance she gets. Crawford only gets to let loose once, when she tells her married boyfriend 'you can your rabbit-faced wife can both go to hell' and slams down the phone. You never get to see the poor soul who dare crosses her.
Martha Hyer's 'storyline', as it were, is extremely weak, and she is painfully over-the-top as an unmarried mother. Short of wearing a huge "W" (for 'whore') on her cardigan, she walks around like a pathetic mess for most of her screen time. Even worse, she is not given the courtesy of having it all 'tied up', one way or the other, at the end. It won't matter that much, but still..
Its painfully obvious this all took place in a totally different world. People were nicer to one another for the most part and work was not a drag but something exciting, for a girl from outside NYC anyway.
One unconvincing drunk scene aside, Hope Lange helps it seem reasonably real as Caroline, who at least has more than one side to her character.
I admire that women are seen having an opinion, a chance and a choice. Not that its not wrapped in a nice bow, but it makes some points for equality. In 1959 that was probably noteworthy and possibly controversial. 7/10.
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