When the head of a large manufacturing firm dies suddenly from a stroke, his vice presidents vie to see who will replace him.When the head of a large manufacturing firm dies suddenly from a stroke, his vice presidents vie to see who will replace him.When the head of a large manufacturing firm dies suddenly from a stroke, his vice presidents vie to see who will replace him.
An all star cast before they were the vogue
Robert Wise is perhaps better known as a director of musicals - West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Star!,etc. However, he was also adept at grabbing our attention and holding it, as with The Day The Earth Stood Still (classic sci-fi) and Somebody Up There Likes Me (launching Paul Newman as a prize fighter). Here, he takes an incredible cast, gives them each something to chew on and let's us in on the fun. It also won Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction, costumes and Cinematography. It won a special jury price at the Venice Film Festival and Golden Lion and WGA nominators for director and writer, so there's some laurels attached. There are many standout scenes and performances -- June Allyson proving she can make more out of the generic housewife and a negligee, Frederic March as a scheming, palm sweating numbers man, Shelley Winters in her bombshell mode, but remarkably restrained(and no one wants to kill her in this movie!), and then there are the standouts of Walter Pidgeon (& that voice)behind leaded glass spectacles and a wild mop of hair, Barbara Stanwyck stealing the thunder away from the major roles just by listening in her chair, with William Holden blustering his way into a couple of decent monologues(his angry white man bit isn't always as compelling from movie to movie)but Nina Foch won a best supporting actress nod for her caring and steadfast senior admin. Only Paul Douglas doesn't seem to be completely connected with his head salesman caught in a scandalous jam. Never one for a subtle role, he doesn't quite have the hang of pretending to talk to someone on a phone, but he does bring a gravitas to his situation once it's a Sword of Damocles over his head. Despite all of this mincing about characters, EXECUTIVE SUITE is a remarkably fascinating power struggle that holds up nearly fifty years later. The few quirks of the film that ground it in the the 50s are easily overpowered by a brilliant ensemble. Wise allows that none of these characters is perfect, but that makes them all the more watchable as they try to wend their way thru the maze put before them. Who needs a Max Steiner soundtrack when there's so much more to the silences between great actors. Four stars out of five - MDMPHD
- Dec 31, 2001
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