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It's New York, 1959, and the pill and women's lib are just around the
corner for the legions of unmarried maidens flocking to the big city in
search of their (wedded) future. Among them is well-mannered Connecticut
WASP, Caroline Bender (Grace Kelly look-alike Hope Lange), neatly turned
out for her first day at Fabian Publishing in hat, gloves and charming
tweed suit. The other girls in the office pool surrounding her seem so
friendly and accepting. There's wide-eyed April (Diane Baker), an
innocent country girl made of pure sugar, Barbara (Martha Hyer), the
(gasp!) unwedded mother who may or may not be sleeping with Mr.
Shalimar, and brassy aspiring actress Gregg (Chanel model Suzy Parker),
a true man-eater who's all curves and confidence. Problem is, editor
Joan Crawford (as spinster Amanda Farrow) is head honcho around the
office and isn't about to let the good times roll unless she can roll
some ingénue heads first. Caroline shrugs off Miss Farrow's catty
sniping -- after all, Fabian is just a place to cool her heels until the
triumphant day when her fiancé, Eddie, returns from Europe to wed and
domesticate her. When Eddie breaks off the wedding to take up with a
wealthy oil heiress, however, the brainy and beautiful Caroline escapes
by plunging headlong into the publishing world, racking up promotions
like hatboxes and catching the eye of dimple-chinned, alcoholic
co-worker, Mike (Stephen Boyd). Meanwhile, April's found a rich cad of
her own, Gregg has fallen hard for a playboy director and Mr. Shalimar
can't keep his hands off the office girls' behinds. Miscarriages,
romance, booze and bright jackets -- this gut-wrenching, vibrant melodrama
has it all. Will Caroline choose work over womanhood? Will her friends
wind up with broken hearts? And will these young, innocent colts in the
city ever attain the best of everything?
This isn't a popcorn flick. We're talking bonbons, chilled blush wine
and possibly an emergency hanky -- not for honest, empathetic weeping,
but for the tears of laughter flowing fast and loud from your most
sardonic friend. She'll still be sucked into Rona Jaffe's nail-bitingly
whimsical world of car accidents, hunky doctors, country club picnics
and the pleasure of watching Suzy Parker go insane. All cynicism aside, The
Best of Everything claws under your skin. Watch it once and you'll
have to watch it a dozen times. Must be the vicarious delight of
watching well-coiffed darlings battle those bestial 1950's men for their
hearts, chastity, and even lives. Justifiably, the film has been blasted
for its work vs. wife dichotomy. It's hard to make excuses for any film
that has Joan Crawford, as one of her typically strong female
characters, regretting that in waiting too long for love, she forever
lost her opportunity to be a real woman. But we're not solidly in the
dark ages here: women have premarital sex and live (okay, not all, but
some) and the unwed mother is independent, elegant and gainfully
employed. And even if Crawford isn't allowed to be a multi-dimensional
woman, she's at least a female boss with a ton of responsibility. But
hey, what's a social message when you can sink gleefully into this
decadent and engaging trifle?
by Amy Nicholson
is a film festival junkie devoted to under-appreciated and classic
cinema while championing House Party as the greatest genre flick
of all time. She loves Busby Berkeley musicals, Johnny Depp, and offbeat
documentaries -- especially those where all the main characters are
rotten. Amy would also like to meet Jackey Vinson, the kid who played
power glove-wielding villain Lucas Barton in the Nintendo drama, The
lounge . nourish
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. home .