I am still trying to figure out why I like this film (and so many like it), when in truth, the submissiveness of females and their dependence on the love of a man really sickens me. The depiction of women in this film is perhaps a bit more progressive than that in other films of this genre, as the women are, at least, career women, and much of the story is set in the office. However, among the three key friends (Hope Lange, Suzy Parker, and Diane Baker), Lange's character Caroline Bender is the only one determined to be an editor. However, at the same time, when her colleague Mike Rice (Stephen Boyd) asks her if she has any ambitions beyond working a year or so, she quite adamantly says "no..none at all"...so, it's a bit contradictory, and frustrating. And he, of course, says it's "wonderful" when she agrees with him that it would be quite satisfying for her to "get her feet wet in publishing for a year or two to prove what she has "to prove", marry a doctor or lawyer, and have babies".
Some of the dialog is beyond hope, but I inexplicably continue to watch this film, every so often. Maybe it's the women's clothing...I love suits, and I miss dressing up for work. (Business casual has been one of several downfalls of today's workplace, as far as I'm concerned. Even though I'm a die-hard liberal, I definitely appreciate and enjoy conservative dress). No, but really...perhaps it is because I want to see if at least one of these women wakes up and takes stock in her own life, and throws back all of the crap that her "sweetheart" dishes out at her. Hope Lange does so to a degree when she rhetorically asks her slime-bucket hometown beau Eddie "what is it about men that they think they deserve the most refined, cultured, "respectable" women from the "best schools and the best families" only "part-time", for only fun, but ignore all of the attendant responsibilities that would turn frolic into long-term, serious relationships. She then goes on to say that a number of women will play the same game as men, for a while, but eventually, they'll have to pick up a few extra men of their own, to fill in the time when they're not with the one they really want. I guess she's talking about today's "casual dating" and "hooking up". Having spent some time lately with various dating services, I've run into more slime-buckets during the past year than I have in my entire life. Again, even though politically I'm quite liberal, my own social mores lean far more to those of a "Rules Girl". So, this piece of dialog resonated with me at this time in my life.
The opening credits are very nice...Manhattan in the spring/summertime is always glorious. Though I need to laugh that it's Johnny Mathis singing the title song, "The Best of Everything" (I've always thought that he was a very funny singer...he often breaks what should be long-held notes with silence...perhaps he's breathing, but we don't hear him inhale), it's also perfect....who else would be singing this song for a 1950's movie about finding your way in life and in love.
Joan Crawford's boss is in many ways no different from some of the tyrannical maniacs I've worked for today, no joke. Joan Crawford's Amanda Farrow was more or less a direct, no holds barred, right-in-your face bitch, telling Hope Lange that she does not have what it takes to become a Reader, much less an Editor. And, she did it in front of the rest of the typing pool (how unprofessional is that?). In the 80's, people stabbed you in the back. In the 90's, and to a degree, now, people smile at you directly, and let you believe all is well, until you're laid off in one surprising second.
I found it inconsistent how the Suzy Parker character started out as an independent, career-minded, aspiring actress, who prided herself on never having needed a man ("to love, and to let go...that's me"), but ended up becoming the most debilitated by the rejection of a man with whom she had fallen in love. And of course, it's also amazing how Diane Baker, fresh from being thrown out of a speeding car and losing a baby (out of wedlock, no less, in the 1950's!) manages to attract the attention and heart of a young, studly doctor when she's still wearing bandages and no make-up in her hospital bed. Wonders never cease in a 1950's melodrama!
If you hedonistically enjoy "Valley of the Dolls", or "Written on the Wind", you'll love "The Best of Everything".
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