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The Best of Everything 1959
Description: An expose of the lives and loves of Madison Avenue working women and their higher ups.
Released: 09 Oct 1959 Director: Jean Negulesco Writers: Edith Sommer (screenplay), Mann Rubin (screenplay), Rona Jaffe (novel) Actors: Hope Lange, Stephen Boyd, Suzy Parker, Martha Hyer Genres: Drama, Romance
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The Best of Everything Reviews:

This working women go to hell soap is a time capsule candidate, courtesy of its immaculate physical production, 50s costuming (look at all those bows and pearls), creamy Johnny Mathis theme song and oh-so daring (for its time) sexual attitudes. Rona Jaffe's novel, on which the movie was based, keeps on being republished, and just a several years ago Vanity Fair now devoted an article to this delectable bon bon of a movie. Take a look at the fresh DVD transfer and you'll know why.The three leads - Hope Lange, Diane Baker and Suzy Parker - echo the women from "How to Marry A Millonaire" or Carrie Bradshaw and her mates from "Sex and the City." "Gentlewomen songsters off on a spree..." Their romantic journeys and sexual entanglements are the items of paperback passion: empty caramel corn calories, devoid of nutrition, impossible to resist snacking on. Lange is genuinely touching in her neo-Grace Kelly way, Baker is properly dim and idealistic as a timid virgin who gets (gasp) knocked up by a (hiss) cad. It supports that the cad is played by Robert Evans, the throaty voiced, coke snorting movie mogul who surely has lead many an innocent young lamb to the slaughter in his Beverly Hills bedroom.Suzy Parker is fascinating in the first half of the film, all blithe self assurance and knowing remarks. She struts her items with the panache of the fashion icon she was in the 50s. Alas, she's not up to where the movie sends her: into madness and obsession. But she exudes glamour and savior faire and her acting is at least adequate. One wonders why the critics loathed her, virtually driving her out of films a several years later. Perhaps an aloof attitude on the part of a nice looking girl is just too much to bear. It sank Ali McGraw's career a generation later, and, when you think of it, Ali McGraw and Suzy Parker were basically the same actress.The film's only major flaw is a low ending. It cute much collapses into a romantic swoon at the end, rather than rising to a wham bang melodramatic finish, like the another popular soap opera from producer Jerry Wald, "Peyton Place," which had Lana Turner weeping and gnashing her teeth during a rape trial. Here, Hope Lange wanders out onto the Fresh York sidewalk, spots burly, eternally hung over (but now, of course, sober) Stephen Boyd and they simply walk off together...into the sunset, one presumes. Otherwise, this is cute much the definition of a guilty pleasure.Oh Yes...there's also Joan Crawford, breathing fire at all the young women and smoking cigarettes while she hisses to her married lover over the phone. And the games are done in hot pink, with ribbon lettering that recalls the department shop adverts of the late 50s. Don't miss!


Claire Booth Luce's "The Women" shows relationships with boys through a woman's mission of view in a play, (and 1939 movie that also has Joan Crawford testing a bitch: a hero who might have been Amanda Farrow 20 years before), that has no male characters. Here we see the male characters and what a bunch they are. They test girls like toys and throw them away, leaving the girls to suffer. Ironically, the girls in "The Women", perhaps because they are all we see, are shown in a less than favorable light, alternately silly and scheming, with the only "nice" one, (Norma Shearer), growing "claws" by the end. In "The Greatest of Everything" we see the boys for the cads they are while the girls are largely innocent and vulnerable.This is a movie about girls leaping from things. Diane Baker leaps from a car, (in perhaps the most absurd stage in cinema history, which is not in the book). Suzy Parker falls from a fire escape. The girls in the movie are leaping into the workplace, looking for success and love at the same time. Girls would leap into the future and leave this kind 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 folks like Sidney Sheldon and Judith Krantz, (although their trashier works aren't as nice as this).The greatest thing about this movie is the method it looks. I love the glossy cinemascope movies of the 50's and 60's. They look so much better than the pixel-challenged home films we've been making since, especially in the letterboxed ver we see on TV, and the DVD, with the picture so clear you should walk into it. The look of the bevy of young beauties in it is also memorable. This movie probably has more pretty girls 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 tells 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 terrible as folks pretend: they are just reacting, as folks 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 girl 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 movie actually 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 large and wound up being Mrs. Muir on tv and, per the IMDb, wound up living in a home with "crates for coffee tables" because she spent her cash on causes she believed in before dying at age 72 in 2003. This movie gotta have seemed a very distant and irrelevant memory to her by then. Baker, everytime 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 greatest of everything" with Bradford Dillman for 40 years before dying at age 70 the same year Lange did. But here they are, young, pretty and ambitious for success and love, just like their characters.


This is a movie that is far more enjoyable than its rating of 7 would suggest. In many ways, it's like a 50s ver of VALLEY OF THE DOLLS--with much of the excesses and sleaziness of VALLEY polished up a bit for the audiences of 1959. Like this soon film, both are about three young ladies who are on the fast-track to success--though this time it's in the publishing globe instead of the entertainment industry (though one of the ladies in THE BEST OF EVERYTHING does have aspirations of Broadway).The movie starts with Hope Lange coming into the company for her first day of work. She's assigned to tough-as-nails boss, Joan Crawford, who is appearing in her first helping role in decades. Despite how nasty Crawford seems, Lange is determined not to give in--to create it in this job. And, over time, she quickly moves up the ranks from secretary to editor. At the same time, her two fresh roommates also test to transport up the ranks--one through the scene and one through a relationship with a rich playboy. Like VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, all of them have their ups and downs (mostly downs) but by the end of the movie there is some hope that at least some of them will create it--battered and bruised, nevertheless.In this film, boys are mostly pigs. The only guy who seems decent is played by Stephen Boyd, so naturally Hope Lange neglects him for a ne'er do well ex-boyfriend. As for the guys played by veteran hero actor Brian Ahern and the rest, they are sexist scum and eventually you understand how Crawford became so bitter and nasty.This movie has it all--adultery, premarital sex, abortion, etc. and is certainly NOT an artistic triumph. However, thanks to perfect production values and a juicy script, this one is a joy to watch. Just don't expect Shakespeare!!



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