Friday, February 11, 2011

Executive Suite (1954).

Executive Suite(1954). Drama. Cast: William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck, Fredric March, and Walter Pidgeon. Directed by Robert Wise and produced by John Houseman from a screenplay by Ernest Lehman based on the novel of the same name by Cameron Hawley. The cinematography was by George J. Folsey and the costume design by Helen Rose. It is one of the few Hollywood films that does not have music.

The story begins when Avery Bullard, president of the Tredway Corporation, dies at a important time for the company. The board of directors must now vote for his replacement. First in line is, Loren Shaw, who is more concerned with the profits than the company. He has the backing of one of the shareholders, Julia Tredway, who was in love with Bullard before he died. Board member George Caswell, offers his support in return for certain favors.

The only real person qualified for the position is, Vice President of Design, Don Walling, who is not to sure he wants the job. He would rather spend his time developing new products. Walling is supported by Treasurer Frederick Alderson. Jesse Grimm, is opposed to Walling for reasons of his own, while Walt Dudley is being blackmailed by Shaw, who caught him having an affair.

Will Walling, win over the board of directors and become the new president of the Tredway Corporation?

A couple of the stand out performaces in the film for me are: Shelley Winters, who plays the part as Douglas' girlfriend who wishes he had more of a backbone. Barbara Stanwyck, also has a memorable scene with William Holden, when the sparks begin to fly. I thought the film looked very realistic with the wonderful shots of, Manhattan. What the film has to say about big business, I think may hold true even today.

Fun Facts:

Producer John Houseman wanted Henry Fonda for the role of McDonald Walling. Fonda turned him down to star in a Broadway musical that never reached the stage.

The entire story takes place during the 24 hour period from Friday afternoon, June 19 1953 to Saturday afternoon, June 20 1953.

Shelley Winters (August 18, 1920 – January 14, 2006), her career spanned over fifty years until her death in 2006. Two-time Academy Award winner, Winters is probably most remembered for her roles in A Place in the Sun, The Big Knife, Lolita, The Night of the Hunter, Alfie, and The Poseidon Adventure.

Shelley was a cousin of actor Tony Curtis, she suggested that he try acting, and was helpful in getting him started in the theater when he got out of the Navy after WWII.

Winters originally broke into Hollywood as "the Blonde Bombshell", but quickly tired of the role's limitations. She washed off her makeup and played against type in the film, A Place in the Sun. It was her performance in A Place in the Sun (1951), that first brought a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Shelley soon became popular as a character actress. She studied in the Hollywood Studio Club and in the late 40s, she shared the same apartment with, Marilyn Monroe.

Her first movie was, What a Woman! (1943). Winters first achieved stardom with her breakout performance in the film, A Double Life(1948). After which she landed leading roles in the films, The Great Gatsby (1949) and Winchester 73 (1950).

Another one of her best known films was, Night of the Hunter(1955), with Robert Mitchum and Lillian Gish. She won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for, The Diary of Anne Frank (1960), and another award, in the same category, for A Patch of Blue in(1966).

Notable later roles include: Lolita,Alfie, Harper, The Poseidon Adventure, Belle Rosen (for which she received her final Oscar nomination) and in, Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976).

Winters suffered with her weight later in life, frequently stating that it was a marketing tool, since there were plenty of normal-weight older actresses but fewer overweight ones and her weight would help her to find work .


  1. Dawn, this is a really good review of one of my very favorite movies. I love this type of movie, taking place in one day, based mainly on character studies. Rod Serling wrote a similar play, "Patterns" which was made into a movie with Van Heflin. You should try to see that one if you have not. It's a bit of a different take on the exact same type of subject.

    I don't think Henry Fonda would have been as good as William Holden. Holden has a sharper edge than Fonda, and I think the part needed that. I enjoyed your bio of Shelley Winters too. I didn't know she was Tony Curtis' cousin!

    To me, one of the outstanding performances among many in this movie was given by Frederic March. I have always been a big March fan, and I thought he did an excellent job with a rather unsympathetic character. Wonderful post, Dawn!

  2. Becky, Thank you. I have not seen the movie, "Patterns". I will look it up to learn more about it.

    I agree... William Holden, gave a perfect performance and was perfect for the part..

    I have always been a Frederic March, fan. He was in so many great movies.

  3. Dawn, this is one of my favorite movies, too. I agree with Becky that EXECUTIVE SUITE would make an awesome double-feature with PATTERNS.


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