The Best of Everything (1959)

Despite starring Joan Crawford, Stephen Boyd, and Hope Lange, The Best of Everything manages to spend most of its two hours on exciting stuff like Joan throwing files on people’s desk, making them work late, and watching Lange go from dumb girl who just took the secretary job until her boyfriend gets back from London, to power-hungry wench that doesn’t care about men anymore once she’s jilted, to gal who is sweet on Mike Rice (Boyd), to dumb girl who is going to break up her old boyfriend’s marriage and then realizes that he’s only using her.

She isn’t the only woman that this movie focuses on though. This is a soap opera which means that you have the lives of a bunch of lonely, pathetic women intertwining. And by intertwining, I mean that occasionally they show up for work together and every so often they’ll all be back at their apartment at the same time to mope around about the latest stunt whatever piece of trash they’re dating just pulled.

The best part of all this is that nothing really interesting happens in their lives. Of course one of the gals meets a tragic end (you can spot her a mile away), but even that isn’t very exciting – she just trips and falls off a fire escape!

Lange plays a woman named Caroline Bender who answers an ad to go to work as a secretary at Fabian Publishing. She is engaged to a guy who is over in Liverpool for awhile so she gets this job to kill time until this guy can come back and marry her unambitious ass.

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Crawford plays Amanda Farrow, one of the editors at Fabian and she’s what you would expect if Crawford was really your boss. She makes a bunch of snide comments about Caroline and her college education and how Caroline was really there gunning for her job (As what? Broken down old movie star?)

Caroline is pretty good about not taking too much guff from Amanda, at least better than you would have expected out of a peroxided blonde who is just waiting around for her no-account boyfriend to marry her. You can see that Caroline has a little backbone to her, but you quickly learn to dislike her character shortly after her boyfriend calls from England to tell her the good news: The marriage is a go! To someone else!

With her dreams of being a housewife crushed, Caroline puts her nose to the grindstone and immediately decides that she is going to be an editor at Fabian books. She moves up the ladder quite quickly, over the objections of Amanda and soon she even has Amanda’s job! She also has managed to start romancing the hunky Mike Rice.

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Mike’s character is distinguished mainly because his conversational skills usually involve asking the bartender for “another” if you catch my meaning.

This isn’t just Caroline’s story of bad self-esteem and poor choice in men, however. She also has two roommates who also work at Fabian. One of them is a tall gal named Greg. Greg is one of those aspiring actresses whose talent is wildly outstripped by her enthusiasm.

Caroline’s other roommate goes by the nickname of Colorado. This is because she comes to the big city via her home state of Colorado. Colorado is really code for “Small Town Rube” and she learns all about life in the Big Apple the hard way. From the chronic sexual harasser Fred Shalimar to what happens when a rich young cad named Dexter gets her preggers out of wedlock.

And what of Caroline? Just when things seemed to be going well for her and Mike Rice, her ex-boyfriend calls up and wants to see her again while he’s in town for business. Unfortunately, when she starts talking to this dude about dumping his wife, he explains that he’ll just open up an office in New York and do his business with her a few days a month and then go back to his rich wife and her rich daddy.

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Meanwhile, Amanda Farrow has quit her job and come back again. All of this happened for no good reason other than to give Joan Crawford something, anything, to do in this movie. Her role is clearly unimportant and they don’t even bother trying to hide that fact from us, by shuffling her off screen for a good portion of the last half of the movie.

The film has dated badly and was clearly someone’s romance novel idea of what it was like for women in the workplace, rather than any kind of serious treatment of the subject. Here the women don’t have to worry about the challenges of juggling work, office politics, and home life. The only thing that concerns them is what their crappy boyfriends are up to.

What you end up with in this movie is a variety of fantasy situations. There’s the woman finding Prince Charming in her doctor (woman’s fantasy #16), a woman dumping the man who loves her for one more shot at her ex, but then dumping him and finding the new boyfriend still receptive to dating her traitorous ass (woman’s fantasy #7), and finally you have the crazy ex-girlfriend falling off her ex’s fire escape to her death (men’s fantasy #1).

A soap opera with nominal stories, irritating characters, and a blandly insensitive treatment to a variety of issues, make this drama a comedy that just isn’t quite funny enough to justify viewing it even for laughs.

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