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Friday, November 2, 2012

Executive Suite (1954)

After the president of a major Philadelphia corporation dies suddenly, the company's board of directors immediately begin to clash, plot and even blackmail in an attempt to secure the top position. You wouldn't think a film about corporate power and the behind the scenes machinations could turn out to be such an intense thriller but director Robert Wise, along with a solid screenplay by Ernest Lehman (NORTH BY NORTHWEST) based on the Cameron Hawley novel and a strong ensemble cast do exactly that. Starkly shot in black and white by George Folsey (FORBIDDEN PLANET) and without any music score, the film plays out in a relatively muted realism until William Holden gives his big speech toward the end which feels phony and suddenly we're aware we're in a glossy MGM movie and not watching a faux documentary. Still, up to then, it's a wonderfully crafted piece of melodrama. In addition to Holden, the excellent cast includes June Allyson, Barbara Stanwyck, Fredric March, Walter Pidgeon, Shelley Winters, Paul Douglas, Louis Calhern, Dean Jagger, Edgar Stehli and amazingly Nina Foch, in an Oscar nominated performance, brings a quiet depth to an underwritten role.

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