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Woman's World DVD Review

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#1 of 14 Matt Hough

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Posted June 04 2014 - 01:59 PM

Woman's World DVD Review

1954 was a year of businessmen in the movies making important executive decisions concerning leadership at the top of important corporations. MGM’s Executive Suite and Fox’s Woman’s World were two such films, but while they shared the motif of an executive version of musical chairs, they were quite different in tone. MGM’s entry was pretty much all business (directed by Robert Wise) while Fox’s release was as much a comedy as it was a melodrama. Coincidentally, June Allyson starred in both of them but playing very, very different women in the two movies. Jean Negulesco’s Woman’s World is likely the lesser known of the two films though they both featured all-star casts (with MGM’s movie rather pointedly the heavier hitter in star wattage).


Cover Art


Studio: Fox

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 480I/MPEG-2

Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1

Audio: English 2.0 DD

Subtitles: None

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 34 Min.

Package Includes: DVD

Amray case

Disc Type: DVD-R

Region: All

Release Date: 05/21/2014

MSRP: $19.98




The Production Rating: 4/5

Upon the death of his general manager, Mr. Gifford (Clifton Webb), head of Gifford Motors, brings his three top regional managers to New York City with their wives for an all expenses paid week while he looks both husband and wife over to see who would make the best fit for his company's top position. The three couples vying for the top prize couldn’t be more different: Bill Baxter (Cornel Wilde) and wife Katie (June Allyson) from Kansas City are the “country-come-to-town” couple with Katie uncomfortable with the noise and crowds and Bill strong minded in his opinions and not willing to “kiss the ring” of the company president. Sid (Fred MacMurray) and Elizabeth (Lauren Bacall) from Philadelphia have a marriage teetering on the brink of separation and Sid’s ulcer severe enough to take him out of the running if its existence becomes known. Jerry (Van Heflin) and Carol (Arlene Dahl) from Dallas have different ways to achieve the position for Jerry: he wants his work to speak for itself while Carol wants to use her feminine wiles to push her husband to the forefront. Before the week is out, Gifford makes his decision, but not before all three couples face the harsh realities of their domestic situations.

Five different writers are credited with the story and dialogue: Claude Binyon, Mary Loos, Richard Sale, Howard Lindsay, and Russel Crouse, and yet there is rather a symmetry to the writing that disguises the fact it’s from so many different hands. And it’s a delightful surprise that at least two of the women (Bacall’s and Allyson’s characters) aren’t spitfires willing to do anything including sabotaging the others to achieve their aims but rather help one another toward that inevitable final selection. Having previously directed How to Marry a Millionaire, the second released Cinemascope film, Jean Negulesco seems completely comfortable with the new wide frame now effortlessly staging scenes to make use of the extreme width with characters placed interestingly to use the horizontal shape in appealing ways and a magnificent moment early on when the dazzling Carol delays her entrance into the ballroom in order to make a singular impression as the camera follows her through the maze of males as all eyes fall upon her. In fact, Negulesco also stages a couple of other point of view shots as some of the new Gifford cars are taken through their test paces on a banked track adding some background color to the otherwise heady melodramatic mix of characters jockeying for position with the master.

As the acerbic “master of ceremonies” manipulating situations so he can take a good gander at both the men and women who might one day represent his company around the world, Clifton Webb adds another droll characterization to his gallery of high-toned executives (he played another one that same year in Three Coins in the Fountain). If June Allyson’s clumsiness and naiveté is sometimes a bit much, Lauren Bacall and Arlene Dahl both capture their characters quite wonderfully. The spouses, frankly, are less interesting (not surprising for a movie titled Woman’s World) though it’s one of Fred MacMurray’s stronger roles that gains in interest as the picture proceeds. Van Heflin is the least colorful or interesting of the folks in the spotlight of Gifford’s glare. Elliott Reid as Gifford’s nephew and Margalo Gillmore as Gifford’s sister both do quite nicely when their moments to shine arrive.



Video Rating: 2.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The film’s 2.55:1 original theatrical aspect ratio is presented on the disc in a non-anamorphic letterboxed presentation. Like Good Morning, Miss Dove (reviewed earlier), this transfer appears to be of much older vintage lacking vivacity and sparkle, and sharpness is only average while color is variable. Flesh tones, in particular, often seem pasty and unreal. Black levels aren’t very deep, and there are dust specks throughout. Without anamorphic enhancement, there are plenty of video artifacts to mar one’s enjoyment: moiré patterns, aliasing, and line twitter are all present and accounted for. The reel change markers are also plainly evident throughout. The film has been divided into 10 chapters.



Audio Rating: 3.5/5

You’ll need to lower the volume before proceeding with the disc since it, like many other MOD releases in this series, has been set overly high and will produce distortion if not taken care of. There is directionalized dialogue in the nicely recorded dialogue present in this Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound mix, and Cyril J. Mockridge’s playful and sometimes lush-sounding score gets a very fine presentation that never overpowers the dialogue.



Special Features Rating: 0/5

There are no bonus features on this made-on-demand disc.



Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Woman’s World is another of Fox’s prime early Cinemascope presentations which has been given a lackluster, unimpressive video encode in the Cinema Archive MOD series. The film is worthy of greater attention, and it’s a shame such an entertaining comedy-drama gets shuttled into a series about which even its own studio seems to care very little (with a very few exceptions).


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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#2 of 14 Dave B Ferris

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Posted June 04 2014 - 02:07 PM

Hi Matt,

 

Your review, fine as always, reminds me about a subject I wanted to post-about last month, except I could not quite figure out where to place the post.

 

As you (and others) may know, in May, June Allyson was the star of the month on TCM.  On the last night of the month that her movies played, they played "My Man Godfrey"; i.e., the remake, with June Allyson.

 

Not that I am the world's greatest expert, but I was floored, because I never heard of the remake.  On the on-screen program guide, the word "Premier" was included at the end, which I take to mean that it was the first time TCM played the movie - which would go a long way toward explaining why I have never heard of the remake.

 

Even so, do other fans know about the remake?  Was I the only person floored as I described?



#3 of 14 Matt Hough

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Posted June 04 2014 - 02:12 PM

Thanks, Dave.

 

At that stage in her movie career (1956-57), June became "Queen of the Remakes" having done the remakes of My Man Godfrey, The Women (musicalized as The Opposite Sex), and It Happened One Night (also musicalized as You Can't Run Away From It). None of these were particularly successful at the box-office.



#4 of 14 JoeDoakes

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Posted June 04 2014 - 04:05 PM

Whenever I am in a particularly optimistic mood, I think that Fox might, just might, issue a Clifton Webb blu ray box.



#5 of 14 bujaki

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Posted June 04 2014 - 04:52 PM

Dave,

I have seen all those June Allyson remakes. I thought they were dreadful and her presence (an acquired taste) did not help. How can you compare her against the likes of Colbert, Shearer and Lombard?



#6 of 14 Matt Hough

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Posted June 04 2014 - 05:59 PM

Whenever I am in a particularly optimistic mood, I think that Fox might, just might, issue a Clifton Webb blu ray box.

 

Wouldn't that be wonderful! I guess dreaming about such a box set doesn't cost anything.



#7 of 14 lionel59

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Posted June 05 2014 - 02:51 AM

Hi Dave,  Did they show MY MAN GODFREY in Letterbox format? I have only seen it panned-and-scanned. Ditto for YOU CAN'T RUN AWAY FROM IT. Of course I prefer the 30's originals, but always curious to see how they update these vehicles to the '50's and utilize CinemaScope to give them a fresh , (then) modern look and feel. As with today, they must have counted on many in the audiences not having seen the original (and not interested in doing so).

  Matt, thanks for another incisive review. The print broadcast LBX on Fox was excellent, thus it would appear to be taken from a different master. The LBX Spanish release is even better. I suggest fans buy that copy. The sound gives the impression of being stereophonic to my ears. June was getting most of the plum roles in the mid-'50's. Guessing the success of THE GLENN MILLER STORY had a lot to do with that.



#8 of 14 Matt Hough

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Posted June 05 2014 - 03:46 AM

I think I read in another thread that the movie was shown pan and scanned. Even TCM doesn't always show movies correctly. I asked them once about this, and the reply I got was that they were at the mercy of their distributor.

#9 of 14 Dave B Ferris

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Posted June 05 2014 - 06:32 AM

I glad Matt chimed-in to answer, because I do not remember.

 

I do remember that I knew that night was supposed to be devoted to June's films, but when I saw "My Man Godfrey" in my on-screen program guide, my first thought was that *somebody* had died, so June's movies had been preempted for a tribute to the deceased individual!  I'm happy I was wrong. 



#10 of 14 Gary16

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Posted June 05 2014 - 07:11 AM

 Did they show MY MAN GODFREY in Letterbox format? I have only seen it panned-and-scanned. .

The titles were in letterbox complete with Cinemascope credit but the rest of the movie was pan and scan.



#11 of 14 Virgoan

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Posted June 05 2014 - 10:07 AM

"(It's A) Woman's World" is laudable for a couple of other features: The title song sung by The Four Aces (who would later be the first name act to cover "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing") and the fantastic travelogue-style cinematography of New York City at the start of the film. Fox very often sent its cameras out to capture the "on-location" shots of famous locales as B-roll. New York never looked as splendid as it does in those opening scenes (as much of Rome looks in "Three Coins in the Fountain", as much as Greece/the Aegean benefits in the footage shot for "Boy on a Dolphin" -- and as would the Riviera benefit in "A Certain Smile").

Adding to the music's impact were an impressive array of orchestrators, et.al:

Lionel Newman ... conductor Edward B. Powell ... orchestrator Leo Arnaud ... orchestrator (uncredited) Maurice De Packh ... orchestrator (uncredited) Bernard Mayers ... orchestrator (uncredited) Alfred Newman ... composer: additional music (uncredited) Leonid Raab ... orchestrator (uncredited).

A neat bit of trivia:

The portrait at the center of Gifford's "wall" of paintings of his romantic conquests is the one of Gene Tierney used in "Laura" (1944), which was Clifton Webb's talking-picture debut and first Oscar-nominated role.

#12 of 14 Matt Hough

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Posted June 05 2014 - 12:14 PM

Yes, I noticed Gene Tierney's Laura picture immediately.



#13 of 14 JoelA

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Posted June 05 2014 - 06:55 PM

Love this movie. Wish it had been given the love it deserves. Regarding the Laura portrait, one of the fun things about watching movies from the studio era is seeing props, sets, furnishings and even stock footage used over and over again.



#14 of 14 Panavision70

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Posted June 06 2014 - 03:13 PM

"The Opposite Sex" is a delightful movie that stands on its own merits. June Allyson is great. But Delores Gray (in the Rosalind Russell part) steals the film. She's a hoot, as are the dress designs Great entertainment.







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