SOLID GOLD CADILLAC, THE (director: Richard Quine; screenwriters:Abe Burrows/from the play by George S. Kaufman and Howard Teichmann; cinematographer: Charles Lang; editor: Charles Nelson; music: Cyril J. Mockridge; cast: Judy Holliday (Laura Partridge), Paul Douglas (Edward L. McKeever), Fred Clark (Clifford Snell), John Williams (John T. Blessington), Hiram Sherman (Harry Harkness), Neva Patterson (Amelia Shotgraven), George Burns (Narrator), Ralph Dumke (Warren Gillie), Ray Collins (Metcalfe), Arthur O’Connell (Jenkins), Richard Deacon (Williams), Harry Antrim (Senator Simpkins); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Fred Kohlmar; Columbia; 1956)
“Gentle corporate satire.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Richard Quine (“My Sister Eileen”/”The World of Suzie Wong”/”Bell, Book and Candle”) energetically directs this gentle corporate satire. It’s based on the 1953 to 1956 hit Broadway play by George S. Kaufman and Howard Teichmann; Abe Burrows writes the screenplay. The 34-year-old Judy Holliday replaces the 67-year-old theater legend Josephine Hull, who starred in the stage version. Hollywood adds a romantic interest to Judy’s character (her old pal Paul Douglas from Born Yesterday), which wasn’t on Broadway. The populist story has a ditzy dumb blonde ten-share stockholder victorious over a seasoned corrupt corporate board of directors, if you can believe.
At the annual stockholders meeting for International Projects, Ltd. (manufacturers of over a billion dollars a year in products that range from pins to tractors) in Manhattan, struggling actress Laura Partridge (Judy Holliday) shows up and strongly voices objections to the big salaries of the company’s top executives. The unmarried Laura makes her presence felt even though she only owns ten shares. The unseen narrator (George Burns) tells us the new president and chairman John T. Blessington (John Williams), the treasurer Clifford Snell (Fred Clark), the VP Gillie (Ralph Dumke) and the other VP Metcalfe (Ray Collins) are crooks. In fact, he tells us the only honest one is the company founder and former president Edward L. McKeever (Paul Douglas), who sold all his shares and is leaving to work for the Department of Defense. The board of directors can’t wait to get rid of him.
When Laura keeps showing up at the meetings as a gadfly, they offer her a bogus job as director of stockholder relations to buy her off and divert her troubling questions at the meetings. They give her a big office and a secretary (Neva Patterson), assigned to be a spy for the bosses, but nothing to do. The single ladies bond and Laura keeps busy writing letters to the small shareholders around the country, as she gets a list of the stockholders from Amelia. These contacts will come in handy when the meddling Laura tries to bring Honest Ed back to the firm over the objections of the vile board of directors.
In the end, capitalism is given the Good Housekeeping seal of approval, as we’re told as long as the players are honest big business works fine. The film’s message about how it’s the responsibility of the small stockholder to be vigilant against the arrogance and greed of the big players hardly rings true as an answer to the big concerns over wide-spread corporate malfeasance, but the lighthearted Capraesque comedy was entertaining until the contrived ending at the embroiled climax became too much of a reach.
REVIEWED ON 3/4/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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