Posted by Thombeau of FABULON.
"You and your rabbit-faced wife can go to hell!" exclaims a pissed-off Joan Crawford, in just one of the many precious moments this big-screen soap has to offer. As publishing executive Amanda Farrow, Joan steals the show in what was her first supporting role since becoming a star. And what a show it is!
The Best of Everything, from 1959, is one of the last "three chicks seeking dicks" flicks, a genre that came crashing to an end with Valley of the Dolls. Both movies were based on popular and trashy novels, yet whereas the latter film is nothing but trash, Best of Everything maintains the decorum that the 1950s demanded. That said, it must have been considered rather daring back in the day.
Director Jean Negulesco never reaches the melodramatic heights that Douglas Sirk specialized in; there's little symbolism and no arty pretensions. Direction and screenplay are straightforward and without subtlety. Any nuances are provided by the large and able cast. The under-rated Hope Lange grows from simple secretary to cold, calculating career woman; Diane Baker is perfectly cast as a naive, small-town girl who learns some hard lessons; and the fabulous Suzy Parker adds a touch of glamour and psychosis that is a joy to watch. Of the men, gorgeous Stephen Boyd charms as a dreamy alcoholic; even more gorgeous Louis Jourdan is, well, Louis Jourdan; and Robert Evans, in his last onscreen role, plays a smooth and heartless cad. Then there is La Crawford, who is simultaneously hurtful and hurt.
Very much of its day, The Best of Everything is a perfect time capsule, capturing mid-century American ideals before they all imploded. The themes, sets and costumes, acting styles, even the smarmy title song (crooned by Johnny Mathis) make this all one could want in a fifties movie. Whether taken on its own terms, or enjoyed strictly for camp value, in many ways it really is the best of everything.
Sorry, I couldn't resist.
(See related post here. The entire film can be seen here)