An expose of the lives and loves of Madison Avenue working girls and their higher ups.An expose of the lives and loves of Madison Avenue working girls and their higher ups.An expose of the lives and loves of Madison Avenue working girls and their higher ups.
This is a film about women leaping from things. Diane Baker leaps from a car, (in perhaps the most absurd scene in cinema history, which is not in the book). Suzy Parker falls from a fire escape. The women in the film are leaping into the workplace, looking for success and love at the same time. Women would leap into the future and leave this type of soap opera behind in the next decade. But they would come back to it in the 80's and 90's through the novels of people like Sidney Sheldon and Judith Krantz, (although their trashier works aren't as good as this).
The best thing about this film is the way it looks. I love the glossy cinemascope films of the 50's and 60's. They look so much better than the pixel-challenged home movies we've been making since, especially in the letterboxed version we see on TV, and the DVD, with the picture so clear you could walk into it. The look of the bevy of young beauties in it is also memorable. This film probably has more beautiful women in it than any other. It has a supermodel, (Suzy Parker), a beauty queen, (Myrna Hansen, who was not Miss America 1954 as Rona Jaffe says in the DVD commentary but rather Miss USA 1953, per the IMDb: but so what), and a Playboy playmate, (June Blair, from January 1957). My vote goes to Suzy, one of the astonishing beauties of all time. Her acting here isn't as awful as people pretend: they are just reacting, as people did then, to the sight of a supermodel, (the first, really), trying to act. Nobody seemed to care how well she did. Her role, that of an apparently worldly woman who turns out to be the most vulnerable, is the most complex in the bunch and she does just fine.
The most touching thing about the film now is the age of the female leads at the time. Hope Lange was 27 when they filmed this in the spring of 1959. Diane Baker was 20. Suzy Parker was 26. Hope, who looked to be Grace Kelly's heir, never made it really big and wound up being Mrs. Muir on television and, per the IMDb, wound up living in a home with "crates for coffee tables" because she spent her money on causes she believed in before dying at age 72 in 2003. This film must have seemed a very distant and irrelevant memory to her by then. Baker, always a welcome face in 60's TV, (especially to Richard Kimble), and still active as an actress and acting coach, just turned 67. Parker found "the best of everything" with Bradford Dillman for 40 years before dying at age 70 the same year Lange did. But here they are, young, beautiful and ambitious for success and love, just like their characters.
- Feb 27, 2006