The Best of Everything


2h 2m 1959
The Best of Everything

Brief Synopsis

Three secretaries look for love while working in the publishing business.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Oct 1959
Premiere Information
New York opening: 8 Oct 1959
Production Company
Company of Artists, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
New York City--Alfred E. Smith Housing Project, New York, United States; New York City--Central Park, New York, United States; New York City--Seagram Building, New York, United States; New York City--Sheridan Square, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe (New York, 1958).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 2m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

When Caroline Bender, an eager young college graduate, reports for her first day of work as a secretary at the Fabian Publishing Company in New York City, Mary Agnes, the chatty head of the stenography pool, assigns her to work for Amanda Farrow, a ruthless, calculating editor whose regular secretary, Gregg Adams, is out sick. Also starting work that day is April Morrison, a naïve young woman in search of true love. When Amanda insists that Caroline work late to type a rejection letter to an author, Caroline reads the manuscript and offers a positive evaluation, highlighting the novel's potential. Caroline's insight impresses Mr. Shalimar, a lecherous senior executive at Fabian, and Mike Rice, the company's world-weary, cynical magazine editor. After praising Caroline's report, Mike warns her to get out of publishing and try marriage instead. That night, April invites Caroline to join her and her roommate, Gregg, for dinner. Over their meal, Caroline rhapsodizes about her fiancé, Eddie Harris, who is traveling overseas, prompting Gregg, an aspiring actress, to profess the virtues of independence. Gregg and April invite Caroline to share their apartment, and she agrees. Later, Amanda, who is conducting a secretive, unsatisfying affair with a married man, accuses Caroline of trying to steal her job. At her mother's insistence, Caroline agrees to have dinner with her friend's son, Paul Landers. As Caroline waits for Paul to pick her up at the office, Eddie phones from London to tell her he has married a rich oil heiress. Shattered, Caroline sits at the restaurant, numbly listening to the insufferable Paul list his accomplishments. Spotting Caroline from across the room, Mike comes to her rescue and takes her home. Drunk, Caroline begs Mike to make love to her and then passes out. Soon after, Shalimar promotes Caroline to the position of reader while Amanda enlists Gregg to work as a maid at a party at her apartment. There, Gregg meets theatrical director David Savage, who invites her to spend the night with him. At the company picnic, Gregg moons over David while Caroline dispenses business advice to Shalimar. Meanwhile, at the clubhouse, April meets playboy Dexter Key, who drives her back to New York in his snazzy sports car and then seduces her. Soon after, Gregg resigns her job as secretary to take a small role in David's new play, prompting Amanda to caution her about David's fickleness toward women. After the play opens in Boston, David decides to replace Gregg with another actress. Now obsessed with David, Gregg demeans herself by begging to stay on as an understudy. At Mary Agnes' wedding in New York, meanwhile, April faints after catching the bridal bouquet and then confides to Caroline that she is pregnant. Afterward, Caroline cooks Mike dinner, and as they are about to kiss, Eddie phones and asks to see Caroline. Realizing that Caroline is still in love with Eddie, Mike storms out. Now back in New York, Gregg becomes increasingly possessive of David and, suspecting that he might be having an affair, searches his drawers. Furious, David throws her out of his apartment and life. Dexter, meanwhile, convinces April that he plans to marry her, but after he picks her up to drive her to the ceremony, he informs her that they are headed for an abortionist. Hysterical, April jumps out of the car and suffers a miscarriage. Upon awakening at the hospital, April feels sullied and broken but is comforted by her doctor, Ronnie Wood. When Amanda quits to marry a widower from Illinois, a man she has known for years, Caroline is awarded her position and office, and Mike sarcastically congratulates her on emulating Amanda's sterile life. Soon after, Amanda returns, having realized that it is too late for her to embark on a life of domesticity, and Caroline graciously relinquishes her office. While April and Ronnie start to date, Caroline and Eddie resume their affair. Caroline naively believes that Eddie intends to divorce his wife to marry her, but when proposes that she become his mistress, she denounces him and leaves for good. Meanwhile, Gregg, becoming increasingly depressed, begins to stalk David, and when a passerby sees her standing outside David's door, he thinks she has been locked out and tries to help. Panicked, Gregg stumbles backward and falls to her death through a hallway window. After David notifies Caroline of Gregg's death, Caroline finally senses the emptiness in her own life. As she leaves work, she sees Mike standing outside the office building, and they smile at each other and walk off together.

Photo Collections

The Best of Everything - Academy Archives
Here are archive images from The Best of Everything (1959), courtesy of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Oct 1959
Premiere Information
New York opening: 8 Oct 1959
Production Company
Company of Artists, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
New York City--Alfred E. Smith Housing Project, New York, United States; New York City--Central Park, New York, United States; New York City--Seagram Building, New York, United States; New York City--Sheridan Square, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe (New York, 1958).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 2m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Costume Design

1959
Adele Palmer

Best Song

1959

Articles

The Best of Everything


"THESE ARE THE GIRLS who want the best of everything...but often settle for a lot less!"
Tagline for The Best of Everything

Three young women braved the world of big business at a time when most females were confined to the secretarial pool and came back with a pair of Oscar® nominations, albeit in lesser categories (Best Song and Costumes). Though leading ladies Hope Lange, Suzy Parker and Diane Baker were never considered for any acting awards for the 1959 melodrama The Best of Everything, the film provides a fascinating look at sexual politics long before the revolution triggered by such feminist pioneers as Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer. The three leads face a variety of sometimes controversial problems facing working women in the era (the book later turned up as a prop on the series Mad Men). Baker plays the young innocent seduced and impregnated by a wealthy playboy. Parker is a neurotic actress whose obsession with a director turns her into what today would be considered a stalker. And Lange is the ambitious former English major caught between career and personal happiness when a former suitor, now married, tempts her with an extramarital affair.

Producer Jerry Wald, who had scored a hit turning Grace Metalious's steamy best-seller Peyton Place into a film in 1957, picked up the rights to Rona Jaffe's debut novel for $100,00 while it was still in galleys. Fortunately for him, it became a best seller and stayed in the top ten for five months. He announced the film version would be a showcase for Hollywood's rising young actors. Among those touted for major roles were Audrey Hepburn, Joanne Woodward, Debbie Reynolds, Lee Remick, Diane Varsi and Robert Wagner. Remick and Varsi were actually cast, but eventually withdrew. Former model Suzy Parker initially turned down the role of the neurotic actress, but finally agreed to play the part when she learned Wald was ill. Eventually Lange and Baker were cast in the leading roles. It was Lange's sixth film and Baker's second. The same year he appeared as Messala in Ben-Hur, Fox contract player Stephen Boyd played the editor who eventually wins Lange's heart. They also cast Louis Jourdan as the director stalked by Parker and future movie mogul Robert Evans as the wealthy cad who gets Baker pregnant.

Originally Martin Ritt, who had directed 20th-Century-Fox's Faulkner adaptation The Long, Hot Summer (1958), was slated to direct, but he withdrew, allegedly in protest over Wald's casting of Parker (he would later say he was unhappy with the script). Jean Negulesco -- who had made his own "three girls looking for love" films with How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and Three Coins in the Fountain (1954) -- took over. He had previously worked with Wald on Warner Bros.' Humoresque (1946), starring Joan Crawford and John Garfield.

Ten days before filming began, Crawford, who had been off-screen for two years, signed on to play Amanda Farrow, the female editor who makes Lange's life miserable until she leaves for her own ill-fated stab at domestic bliss. It was the star's first supporting role and marked a major step down from her days as a leading player at MGM, Warner Bros., Columbia and other studios. Though she may have felt she owed Wald the favor, since he produced her Oscar®-winning comeback feature, Mildred Pierce (1945), she also had been left in debt by the death of her fourth husband, Pepsi-Cola executive Alfred Steele. She told gossip columnist Louella Parsons just that in an interview that ran nationally. But when executives at Pepsi suggested the statement made them look bad, she told the press that she wasn't as bad off as Parsons had said. The columnist never forgave her.

According to Baker, Crawford's role was reduced to even more of a supporting role after the final cut reached theatres. A bravura drunken scene for her character ended up on the cutting room floor. Ironically, Wald had added the scene to the film to lure her into taking the part. Crawford was also dismayed to realize that Negulesco was directing the film to favor leading lady Lange. When she quarreled with the younger actress about the staging of her last scene, Negulesco sided with Lange, blunting Crawford's exit from the narrative.

Crawford's only consolation on set was Baker, who went out of her way to be kind to the older star and provide support that seemed to be lacking from her director. Just to make things worse, the studio scrapped plans to have her "host" the film's theatrical trailer when she insisted on having a bottle of Pepsi featured on screen. Crawford would not return to the screen again until 1962, when she and longtime rival Bette Davis launched the "fading stars as gothic monsters" genre with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. When that relaunched her career, Crawford repaid Baker for her kindness by insisting the actress originally cast as her daughter in Strait-Jacket (1964) be fired and Baker hired in her place. Eventually, Crawford got some kind of posthumous revenge when the film was released on video and DVD. The cover for the film's home viewing release features her more prominently than any of the film's real stars.

Although most of The Best of Everything was shot on the 20th Century-Fox back lot, some exteriors were filmed on location in New York City at such sites as the Seagram Building, the Alfred E. Smith Housing Project and Central Park. One location scene features a conversation between Lange and Baker as they walk through Greenwich Village, going along Christopher Street and past the Stonewall Inn, site of the riots that launched the gay liberation movement in 1969. Except for a few establishing shots, the publishing company's picnic was shot in Hollywood, where a palm tree features incongruously on what is supposed to be a Long Island estate.

The film marked the last original score for Fox by the studio's music department head, Alfred Newman, who had written his first music for them 26 years earlier for The Bowery (1933). He would only work on one more Fox film, as musical director for the 1962 re-make of State Fair. He had scored the 1945 version that first introduced Rodgers and Hammerstein's songs to the story. In addition to scoring The Best of Everything, he also wrote the music for the Oscar®-nominated title song, with lyrics by Sammy Cahn and a vocal by rising recording star Johnny Mathis.

The Best of Everything received only mixed reviews, with many critics decrying Crawford's being relegated to a relatively minor role. The movie did well in theatres, however and years later, it inspired a short-lived ABC soap of the same name airing in 1970. The daytime drama starred screen veterans Geraldine Fitzgerald and Gale Sondergaard, former child star Patty McCormack and newcomer Susan Sullivan. The show was particularly noted for tackling such still-controversial topics as rape and drug addiction.

Producer: Jerry Wald
Director: Jean Negulesco
Screenplay: Edith R. Sommer, Mann Rubin
Based on the novel by Rona Jaffe
Cinematography: William C. Mellor
Art Direction: Mark-Lee Kirk, Jack Martin Smith, Lyle R. Wheeler
Score: Alfred Newman
Principal Cast: Hope Lange (Caroline Bender), Stephen Boyd (Mike Rice), Suzy Parker (Gregg Adams), Martha Hyer (Barbara Lamont), Diane Baker (April Morrison), Brian Aherne (Fred Shalimar), Robert Evans (Dexter Key), Brett Halsey (Eddie Harris), Louis Jourdan (David Savage), Joan Crawford (Amanda Farrow).
C-121m.

by Frank Miller
The Best Of Everything

The Best of Everything

"THESE ARE THE GIRLS who want the best of everything...but often settle for a lot less!" Tagline for The Best of Everything Three young women braved the world of big business at a time when most females were confined to the secretarial pool and came back with a pair of Oscar® nominations, albeit in lesser categories (Best Song and Costumes). Though leading ladies Hope Lange, Suzy Parker and Diane Baker were never considered for any acting awards for the 1959 melodrama The Best of Everything, the film provides a fascinating look at sexual politics long before the revolution triggered by such feminist pioneers as Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer. The three leads face a variety of sometimes controversial problems facing working women in the era (the book later turned up as a prop on the series Mad Men). Baker plays the young innocent seduced and impregnated by a wealthy playboy. Parker is a neurotic actress whose obsession with a director turns her into what today would be considered a stalker. And Lange is the ambitious former English major caught between career and personal happiness when a former suitor, now married, tempts her with an extramarital affair. Producer Jerry Wald, who had scored a hit turning Grace Metalious's steamy best-seller Peyton Place into a film in 1957, picked up the rights to Rona Jaffe's debut novel for $100,00 while it was still in galleys. Fortunately for him, it became a best seller and stayed in the top ten for five months. He announced the film version would be a showcase for Hollywood's rising young actors. Among those touted for major roles were Audrey Hepburn, Joanne Woodward, Debbie Reynolds, Lee Remick, Diane Varsi and Robert Wagner. Remick and Varsi were actually cast, but eventually withdrew. Former model Suzy Parker initially turned down the role of the neurotic actress, but finally agreed to play the part when she learned Wald was ill. Eventually Lange and Baker were cast in the leading roles. It was Lange's sixth film and Baker's second. The same year he appeared as Messala in Ben-Hur, Fox contract player Stephen Boyd played the editor who eventually wins Lange's heart. They also cast Louis Jourdan as the director stalked by Parker and future movie mogul Robert Evans as the wealthy cad who gets Baker pregnant. Originally Martin Ritt, who had directed 20th-Century-Fox's Faulkner adaptation The Long, Hot Summer (1958), was slated to direct, but he withdrew, allegedly in protest over Wald's casting of Parker (he would later say he was unhappy with the script). Jean Negulesco -- who had made his own "three girls looking for love" films with How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and Three Coins in the Fountain (1954) -- took over. He had previously worked with Wald on Warner Bros.' Humoresque (1946), starring Joan Crawford and John Garfield. Ten days before filming began, Crawford, who had been off-screen for two years, signed on to play Amanda Farrow, the female editor who makes Lange's life miserable until she leaves for her own ill-fated stab at domestic bliss. It was the star's first supporting role and marked a major step down from her days as a leading player at MGM, Warner Bros., Columbia and other studios. Though she may have felt she owed Wald the favor, since he produced her Oscar®-winning comeback feature, Mildred Pierce (1945), she also had been left in debt by the death of her fourth husband, Pepsi-Cola executive Alfred Steele. She told gossip columnist Louella Parsons just that in an interview that ran nationally. But when executives at Pepsi suggested the statement made them look bad, she told the press that she wasn't as bad off as Parsons had said. The columnist never forgave her. According to Baker, Crawford's role was reduced to even more of a supporting role after the final cut reached theatres. A bravura drunken scene for her character ended up on the cutting room floor. Ironically, Wald had added the scene to the film to lure her into taking the part. Crawford was also dismayed to realize that Negulesco was directing the film to favor leading lady Lange. When she quarreled with the younger actress about the staging of her last scene, Negulesco sided with Lange, blunting Crawford's exit from the narrative. Crawford's only consolation on set was Baker, who went out of her way to be kind to the older star and provide support that seemed to be lacking from her director. Just to make things worse, the studio scrapped plans to have her "host" the film's theatrical trailer when she insisted on having a bottle of Pepsi featured on screen. Crawford would not return to the screen again until 1962, when she and longtime rival Bette Davis launched the "fading stars as gothic monsters" genre with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. When that relaunched her career, Crawford repaid Baker for her kindness by insisting the actress originally cast as her daughter in Strait-Jacket (1964) be fired and Baker hired in her place. Eventually, Crawford got some kind of posthumous revenge when the film was released on video and DVD. The cover for the film's home viewing release features her more prominently than any of the film's real stars. Although most of The Best of Everything was shot on the 20th Century-Fox back lot, some exteriors were filmed on location in New York City at such sites as the Seagram Building, the Alfred E. Smith Housing Project and Central Park. One location scene features a conversation between Lange and Baker as they walk through Greenwich Village, going along Christopher Street and past the Stonewall Inn, site of the riots that launched the gay liberation movement in 1969. Except for a few establishing shots, the publishing company's picnic was shot in Hollywood, where a palm tree features incongruously on what is supposed to be a Long Island estate. The film marked the last original score for Fox by the studio's music department head, Alfred Newman, who had written his first music for them 26 years earlier for The Bowery (1933). He would only work on one more Fox film, as musical director for the 1962 re-make of State Fair. He had scored the 1945 version that first introduced Rodgers and Hammerstein's songs to the story. In addition to scoring The Best of Everything, he also wrote the music for the Oscar®-nominated title song, with lyrics by Sammy Cahn and a vocal by rising recording star Johnny Mathis. The Best of Everything received only mixed reviews, with many critics decrying Crawford's being relegated to a relatively minor role. The movie did well in theatres, however and years later, it inspired a short-lived ABC soap of the same name airing in 1970. The daytime drama starred screen veterans Geraldine Fitzgerald and Gale Sondergaard, former child star Patty McCormack and newcomer Susan Sullivan. The show was particularly noted for tackling such still-controversial topics as rape and drug addiction. Producer: Jerry Wald Director: Jean Negulesco Screenplay: Edith R. Sommer, Mann Rubin Based on the novel by Rona Jaffe Cinematography: William C. Mellor Art Direction: Mark-Lee Kirk, Jack Martin Smith, Lyle R. Wheeler Score: Alfred Newman Principal Cast: Hope Lange (Caroline Bender), Stephen Boyd (Mike Rice), Suzy Parker (Gregg Adams), Martha Hyer (Barbara Lamont), Diane Baker (April Morrison), Brian Aherne (Fred Shalimar), Robert Evans (Dexter Key), Brett Halsey (Eddie Harris), Louis Jourdan (David Savage), Joan Crawford (Amanda Farrow). C-121m. by Frank Miller

Quotes

What is it about women like us that make you hold us so cheaply? Aren't we the special ones from the best homes and the best colleges? I know the world outside isn't full of rainbows and happy endings, but do you want me even decent?
- Caroline Bender

Trivia

Notes

Hollywood Reporter news items yield the following information about this production: Lee Remick, Diane Varsi, Nina Foch, Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner and Margaret Leighton were all considered for starring roles and Martin Ritt was originally slated to direct. Stuart Whitman was considered for the role of "David Savage" and Barry Coe tested for the part of "Dexter Key." A December 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Lionel Kane replaced Gardner McKay in the role of "Paul Landers." Although Hollywood Reporter production charts included Buck Class in the cast, his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       Studio publicity contained in the films production files at the AMPAS Library noted that Wald bought the rights to Rona Jaffe's best-selling novel when the book was still in manuscript form. According to a May 1959 New York Times news item and studio publicity, location filming was done at the Seagram Building, the Alfred E. Smith Housing Project, and around Central Park and Sheridan Square, in New York City.
       According to the New York Times review, the character of "Amanda Farrow" played a much smaller part in Jaffe's novel than in the film. The reviewer speculated that the part was expanded to accomodate Joan Crawford. The ^NYT reviewer also commented that the romance between "Mr. Shalimar" and the divorced "Barbara Lamont" was the most developed relationship in the novel, whereas in the film it was barely alluded to. Modern sources add that Crawford insisted on her name being billed separately. Adele Palmer's costumes and Alfred Newman and Sammy Cahn's song "The Best of Everything" were nominated for Academy Awards. From 30 March-September 25, 1970, ABC broadcast a televised series based on Jaffes novel starring Diane Kagan and directed by David Alexander.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1959

CinemaScope

Released in United States 1959