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Executive Suite Reviews

A spectacular array of MGM superstars shine in this slick fascinating drama of corporate intrigue. The death of the president of a gigantic furniture firm prompts a series of power plays among the company's executives, all vying for the vacated top position. The jockeying vice presidents are Loren Phineas Shaw (March), Josiah Walter Dudley (Douglas), Frederick Y. Alderson (Pidgeon), George Nyle Caswell (Calhern), and a junior executive, McDonald Walling (Holden). Surveying the candidates is Julia O. Tredway (Stanwyck), the daughter of the manufacturing firm's founder and the mistress of the recently deceased company head. As the chief stockholder as well, her decision will tip the scales. Director Wise intercuts among the many characters but this strategy actually serves to unify the story and action rather than fragmenting the tale. The drama unfolds from a sparkling, witty, and provocative screenplay by Ernest Lehman adapted from the Cameron Hawley novel. Holden, March, Douglas, Stanwyck, Calhern, Jagger, Foch and Pidgeon are riveting in their parts, even though some, like Stanwyck, are only on camera occasionally. Holden, still building a great career, was reunited with Stanwyck on screen for the first time in 15 years--their last previous work together was in GOLDEN BOY. Critics universally and correctly singled out March as the most impressive performer in the awesome cast. His obsessive villain hasn't a single virtue, only the relentless drive to win at all costs while mouthing the predictable rationale that he is merely practicing "good business." Foch, as the suicidal secretary to the deceased boss, gained an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress. This was one of the first major films to eschew a continuous musical score; producer Houseman elected to incorporate the sounds of the business world throughout such as when the bells of a Wall Street clock are heard while the cast names roll up on the screen.