The Best of Everything (1959 film)

The Best of Everything
File:VM SY400 SX600 .jpg
VHS cover
Directed by Jean Negulesco
Produced by Jerry Wald
Screenplay by Edith Sommer
Mann Rubin
Based on The Best of Everything 
by Rona Jaffe
Starring Hope Lange
Diane Baker
Suzy Parker
Joan Crawford
Robert Evans
Stephen Boyd
Brian Aherne
Martha Hyer
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography William C. Mellor
Editing by Robert Simpson
Distributed by Twentieth Century-Fox
Release date(s)
Running time 121 mins.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,965,000[1]

The Best of Everything is a 1959 romantic drama film released by 20th Century-Fox, and starring Hope Lange, Diane Baker, Suzy Parker, Stephen Boyd, Louis Jourdan, Robert Evans, and Joan Crawford. The movie relates the professional careers and private lives of three women who share a small apartment in New York City and work together in a paperback publishing firm.

The screenplay was written by Edith Sommer and Mann Rubin, which the adapted from the 1958 novel of the same name by Rona Jaffe.[2] The film was directed by Jean Negulesco and produced by Jerry Wald. Alfred Newman wrote the musical score, the last under his longtime contract as Fox's musical director. The film has been released on VHS and DVD.

Plot

Caroline Bender (Lange) is an ambitious young secretary in a publishing firm who, when jilted, finds consolation in the arms of editor Mike Rice (Boyd). Gregg Adams (Parker) is a typist and an aspiring actress romantically involved with stage director David Savage (Jourdan). When the director dumps her, she is devastated, falls from a fire escape and dies.

April Morrison (Baker) winds up pregnant, and jumps from a car when her unborn infant's father Dexter Key (Evans) urges an abortion. All three women are under the supervision of editor Amanda Farrow (Crawford), an exacting professional and a frustrated woman who marries, leaves the firm, and returns when she finds the simple life of home and marriage not to her liking.

Cast

Production

In April 1958, producer Jerry Wald from 20th Century Fox announced he was buying the rights of the novel of the same name. In his first interview about the film adaption, Wald said: "There are 10 roles in this for young people, and I hope to get some of our outstanding actors such as Lee Remick, Hope Lange, Diane Varsi, Suzy Parker, Robert Evans, Lee Philips and Bob Wagner."[3] In further early casting considerations, Wald mentioned Joanne Woodward, Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Bacall and Margaret Truman.[4] In November 1958, Rona Jaffe officially sold the rights to her book for $100,000.[5] She did not want any part in preparing the screenplay, her intent was appearing in the film, saying: "I want to appear in the movie in a walk-on part. I would just appear briefly as one of the office's pool of stenographers."[6]

Martin Ritt was initially set to direct, but he was replaced by Jean Negulesco in January 1959, because reportedly, Ritt was upset with the casting of Suzy Parker. Ritt dismissed this rumor, saying the script wasn't his "cup of tea".[7] When she learned that Wald was sick, Parker agreed to do the film, reporting for work in January 1959.[8] She was persuaded to take the role in the summer of 1958, but a broken arm prohibited her from taking the role.[9] On playing a neurotic actress, Parker commented: "I know the type extremely well."[10]

During casting, several actors were considered, cast and replaced. In August 1958, Diane Varsi and Lee Remick were, along with Suzy Parker, attached to star in the film, but they both withdrew.[11] Remick was forced to leave production in early 1959 due to physical problems. In September 1958, Julia Meade signed on for the film, planning to make her screen debut.[12] She eventually did not appear in the film. In January 1959, the unknown actress Diane Hartman was cast as Barbara, but she was later replaced by Martha Hyer.[13] Jack Warden agreed to a co-starring role in March 1959, but he did not appear.[14] Less than a month later, Jean Peters was planning to make her comeback in this film.[15] Had Peters not been replaced, it would have been her fifth film under direction of Negulesco. Another actress cast in March 1959 without appearing in the definite film is June Blair, who was set to play one of the starring roles.[16]

Joan Crawford was cast in May 1959, ten days before shooting began.[17] Around the time, Crawford was almost broke.[18] She commented on her role: "I'm on the screen only seven minutes. But I liked the part, and I want to do other movies and TV films if I can find what I want." Crawford had recently been elected to the Board of Directors of Pepsi-Cola and planned to spend a greater part of her time promoting the soft drink giant.[19]

Music

The score was composed and conducted by Alfred Newman, with orchestrations by Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer. Additional development of Newman's themes were done by Cyril Mockridge for two scenes, and the songs "Again" and "Kiss Them for Me," both by Lionel Newman; and "Something's Gotta Give" by Johnny Mercer are used as source music.[20]

The title song for the film was composed by Newman, with lyrics by Sammy Cahn, and performed by Johnny Mathis. Producer Jerry Wald first showed interest in Mathis for the title song in August 1958.[21]

The music, as recorded for the motion picture, was released on cd in 2002, on Film Score Monthly records.

Reception

In the New York Times of October 9, 1959, critic Howard Thompson described the film as a "handsome but curiously unstimulating drama" and noted, "the casting is dandy" with kudos to Lange. Commenting on Joan Crawford, the critic described her performance as "suave trouping". Thompson pointed out that, "...for all its knowing air and chic appointments, the picture lumbers onto the plane of soap opera, under Mr. Negulesco's reverential guidance."[22]

Paul V. Beckley ended his review in the New York Herald Tribune with: "...Miss Crawford comes near making the rest of the picture look like a distraction."[23]

Crawford's peripheral role in the film generated much criticism. The men she was involved with romantically never appeared on the screen, and several of her scenes — including, according to co-star Diane Baker, a superbly-acted drunk episode — were cut, reportedly due to the film's length.[24]

Due to the film's success, a short-lived daytime soap opera of the same name was aired on ABC in 1970.

References

External links

  • TCM Movie Database
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Various releases on LP and cd of the music from the film
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