Best of Everything [1959]

The business world of the late Eisenhower era has rarely been more chicly drawn than in The Best of Everything, a juicy soap opera of the "working girl" school. Hope Lange lands a secretarial job at a Manhattan publishing house, eventually rising to an editorial position--but not before witnessing the back-biting, fanny-pinching snakepit that is the corporate workplace circa 1959. The spunky trio of Lange, Diane Baker, and Suzy Parker have romantic misadventures aplenty; Baker falls in with smarmy young Robert Evans (he had the tan even back then) and aspiring actress Parker lands in the clutches of heartbreaker stage director Louis Jourdan. The film's males are truly pigs in gray flannel suits. Beefcake slab Stephen Boyd offers solace to Lange, while Martha Hyer is around to provide yet another example of a woman suffering for the sake of a married man. Despite all the young female talent (redhead Parker was one of the most beautiful women of the fifties, a top model with a brief movie career), nobody holds serve when Joan Crawford bulls her way on screen. As a senior magazine editor (and a presumably cautionary example of the bitter career woman), Crawford eats the other actors like hors d'oeuvres. Jean Negulesco's staid direction never notices how trashy and plodding the material is, stressing instead the designer prettiness of CinemaScope: the interiors are a parade of cool colors and postwar furniture, the location shots of Manhattan streets are as gorgeous and nostalgic as an ancient engraving. --Robert Horton

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