10 May 2005 | jotix100
Herbert Lehman, the adapter of the novel that serves as the basis for this corporate drama makes a tremendous contribution with his screen play. Little seems to have changed in the way corporate America did business then, which it still holds true today. The film, as directed by Robert Wise, keeps us involved in the maneuvers the executives of the company do behind the scenes when the head of the company dies suddenly.
We are given a gripping drama as to what goes on among all the possible candidates to take the helm of the business. There will only be a winner, but who can be the most qualified person to take the company to do better than it had performed under the dead man? Would it be the ambitious Loren Shaw, a man with facts and figures at the tip of his fingers? Would it be Frederich Alderan, the man who has dedicated almost 30 years of his life to the business? Or would it be McDonald Walling, the younger man who knows what's wrong with the way the company has been turning inferior products to its customers?
The all star cast assembled for the film do an outstanding job guided by Mr. Wise, the director. William Holden plays Walling, the youngest of all the executives. Mr. Holden gave an inspired performance as the man who knows where the focus of the company should be, and he is decent enough not to want to be seen as pushing to get the CEO's job.
Fredric March, one of the best actors of his generation, is one of the best things in the film. His ambitious Loren Shaw, clearly, the man who makes no bones about his aspirations, is one of the best roles he played for the screen. Mr. March's portrayal of the ruthless Shaw gives us an idea of how driven some people in those high places will react knowing the power they'll yield, not caring how they will affect the lives of those under them.
The rest of the players are good. Barbara Stanwyck has a small part as the daughter of the man that created Treadway. Walter Pigeon is Fred, the man who has given his life to this company. Paul Douglas is Walter, the straying man having an illicit relation with his secretary. Louis Calhern is the reptilian Casswell, who stands to make a lot of money out of his gamble to back up Shaw. Nina Foch, the executive secretary Erica, does a fine job in projecting the sadness of a lonely woman who has probably loved the dead man Bullard. Shelley Winters only has a couple of scenes as Eva, the secretary that suddenly sees the light in her situation with Walter.
The film offers a good look at the financial district of New York as it looked in those years. It's sad to realize what the recent events have done to that part of Manhattan and how different it looks today!