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).
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 480I/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 34 Min.
Package Includes: DVDAmray case
Disc Type: DVD-R
Release Date: 05/21/2014
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.
The Production Rating: 4/5
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.
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.
Video Rating: 2.5/5 3D Rating: NA
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.
Audio Rating: 3.5/5
There are no bonus features on this made-on-demand disc.
Special Features Rating: 0/5
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).
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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