BEST OF EVERYTHING, THE (director: Jean Negulesco; screenwriters: from the book by Rona Jaffe/Mann Rubin/Edith R. Sommer; cinematographer: William C. Mellor; editor: Robert Simpson; music: Alfred Newman; cast: Hope Lange (Caroline Bender), Stephen Boyd (Mike Rice), Suzy Parker (Gregg Adams), Joan Crawford (Amanda Farrow), Brian Aherne (Fred Shalimar), Diane Baker (April), Louis Jourdan (David Savage), Sue Carson (Mary Agnes), Brett Halsey (Eddie), Robert Evans (Dexter), Martha Hyer (Barbara), Donald Harron (Sidney Carter), Ted Otis (Ronnie Wood), Myrna Hansen (Judy Mason); Runtime: 121; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jerry Wald; 20th Century Fox; 2003)
“It all seems trite and overly melodramatic.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A shallow glossy soap-opera shot in CinemaScope that director Jean Negulesco based on Rona Jaffe’s shallow pulpish best-selling book about the romantic travails about a group of single women working for a high-powered NYC publishing house. All the men are either heels or drunks or lechers, while all the women are romantics who have been taken advantage of by these scoundrels. It all makes for a tedious cautionary tale over nothing. Johnny Mathis sings the title Oscar nominated song as the opening credits roll by. Costume Designer Adele Palmer was nominated for an Oscar, as the costumes fit nicely and were the only things in this film worth looking at.
A litany of women’s problems are covered from a pregnancy before marriage to a few extra-marital affairs to being jilted. It all seems trite and overly melodramatic. If you liked the 1967 “Valley of the Dolls,” this is its perfect companion piece. Despite an all-star cast, the acting was turgid and the script lame. The film acts as a warning to career women, that only horrors face you in the workplace even if you get lucky and become an executive. In this movie, the only thing a woman should do is get married and spend her days shopping in those classy Manhattan department stores.
Bitchy fiftysomething unmarried editor Amanda Farrow (Joan Crawford), who is having an affair with a married man never seen, lords it over a trio of secretaries under her rule, Caroline Bender (Hope Lange), Gregg Adams (Suzy Parker), and April Morrison (Diane Baker). The young single girlies bond and become Manhattan roommates and talk girl talk about men over champagne. Caroline is the class of the litter, having recently graduated from a prestigious college and is engaged to someone named Eddie she dearly loves who has gone abroad for a year. Drinking too much of the bubbly stuff the naive women say all sorts of silly things. The ambitious Caroline, yearning to be an editor, announces that if she’s not wed “by the time I’m 26, I may have to take myself a lover.” The chatty and wide-eyed virgin April, who came to the Big Apple from Colorado for some action comments: “If you’re that old, you have a right to live.” Not to be outdone by her roomies, the aspiring bad actress Gregg chips in the following words of wisdom with a toast: “Here’s to men. Bless their clean-cut faces and their dirty little minds.”
In the workplace Farrow chain-smokes and gets her jollies by dishing out harsh orders to her inferiors, while secretly sulking how miserable her life turned out as she only has her job to keep her warm. The editor-in-chief is 55-year-old Fred Shalimar (Aherne), a dirty old man who pinches the ladies’ behinds and when he’s rejected by another exec, unwed mother Barbara (Martha Hyer), after pouncing on her in his office, he clamors “Who do you think you’re fooling? You’ve been around!”
The most eligible man in the workplace is the handsome and cordial Mike Rice (Boyd), who happens to be a loner and drunk. He’s unhappy about something in his life that the story never gets around to. Why should it, he’s only one of the main characters and becomes a love interest for Caroline after she’s jilted by her true love for a Texas gal whose poppa owns oil wells. Poor April loses her virginity to a wealthy smoothie scoundrel Dexter (Bob Evans), who drives her to insanely jump out of a moving car when he is set to dump her off for an illegal abortion when she planned on marriage. The cruelest one dumped is Gregg, who sleeps with a womanizing stage director named David Savage (Jourdan) to get a part but when he sees she can’t act even for a bit part– he unceremoniously fires her and boots her out of his tacky art decorated apartment–and sleeps with her replacement actress (Hansen). Gregg becomes too ashamed to tell her roomies and starts living unknown to him or them on his fire escape, as she loses all dignity which results in a fatal tragedy.
Robert Evans’s career as an actor ended after this film. In the 1970s he became successful as a studio head at Paramount Pictures, bringing out The Godfather and serving as the producer of Chinatown.
The film’s most unintentionally funny moment is when Crawford gets an unsolicited manuscript and scrawls on it “Trash… No!” I thought that must have been the movie screenplay she was commenting on.
REVIEWED ON 1/11/2004 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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