Cast & Crew
Following the death of Philip Briggs, the general manager at luxury automobile manufacturer Gifford Motors, owner Ernest K. Gifford decides to select his successor from among the top three district managers. The snobbish Gifford orders the men to come to the company's headquarters in New York City and to bring their wives, as he believes that the wife of a man in such an important position is as valuable to the company as her husband. Arriving by plane are Bill and Katie Baxter, a devoted couple reluctant to leave their children in their Kansas City home. Jerry Talbot, traveling by train from Texas, warns his sexy wife Carol to let him handle Gifford his own way. Elizabeth and Sidney Burns, who are on the verge of separating, quarrel as they drive from Philadelphia, and Sid begs Liz not to reveal their marital problems. Liz promises to act like a dutiful wife, although she is embittered by Sid's devotion to work, which has given him an ulcer and strained their marriage. After the couples settle into the lavish hotel suites provided by Gifford, they discuss their trip, and Katie, who believes that the trip is a reward for good sales, expresses her dislike of the big city. Carol, meanwhile, reiterates her desire to leave Texas and become part of a more glamorous lifestyle, and Liz states that if Sid is promoted, he will work himself to death. After Bill warns the nervous Katie not to have more than one martini, they attend a reception hosted by Gifford, and Liz is bemused to see the glamorous Carol staging a grand entrance during which she catches Gifford's eye. Katie rapidly downs three martinis, then hiccups while Gifford makes a speech and further endangers Bill's position when she tells Gifford that she hopes he will not give Bill a job in New York. Realizing that she has made a faux pas , Katie runs off, and Liz is impressed to see that Bill pursues her rather than staying with Gifford. Back at the hotel, Jerry chastises Carol for her overt flirting and demands that she let him prove that he is the best man for the job, while Sid thanks Liz for her support. Bill finally reveals to Katie that he is being considered for Briggs's job and is saddened by her negative reaction. The next day, Gifford's nephew, Tony Andrews, takes the women sightseeing while Gifford takes the men on a tour of the company's factory. Gifford questions the men about their views on leadership, and Jerry reveals his theory of an undefinable quality that he calls "X+" that enables a man to be a productive leader. The men join their wives, and Sid excitedly tells Liz that he believes he has earned Gifford's favor. Liz replies that he is only getting closer to the end of their marriage and storms out of their room, while Carol continues to pressure Jerry about the job. Katie admits to Bill that she made several gaffes while talking with Tony, and Bill reveals that he, too, spoke his mind plainly to Gifford and is not sure how he was received. Bill asks Katie to buy some "flashier" clothes, however, in the hope that Gifford will pay attention to her, as he has been to Carol. Meanwhile, Gifford visits his sister, society matron Evelyn Andrews, and asks her to host a dinner party so that she can evaluate the wives, but Evelyn insists that she will need more than just one evening. The next day, Gifford announces to his visitors that they will be spending the weekend at his country home, and Katie, who has spent her clothing allowance on a new barbecue for Bill, is crushed to learn that he really does want the promotion and that she has therefore squandered her money. Desperate to impress Gifford, Katie asks Liz for help, and Liz takes her to a bargain basement where they find her some adequate clothes for the weekend. During the yacht ride to Gifford's estate, Sid, who has promised Liz that he will put their family life ahead of his work, assures her that his ulcer no longer hurts because he has stopped caring about the promotion. At the estate, Gifford shows the men his trophy room while Evelyn offers the women tea. Katie "accidentally" spills tea on herself in order to spend some time with Evelyn alone, and Evelyn offers her advice on the rigorous duties faced by a "company wife." In the trophy room, Gifford bluntly tells the men that he has been "inspecting" them and their wives and asks them if they will put their jobs ahead of their family lives. Bill flatly refuses, stating that if a man's work and home life interfere with each other, something is wrong with both the man and the job, while Jerry replies that he wants to be accepted on his own personal merits, not his wife's. Sid eagerly assures Gifford that he wants the general manager's post, then, upstairs, confesses to Liz that he would not be able to turn down the promotion if it were offered to him. Resigned, Liz promises to stick by him, while Katie is relieved to learn that Bill has decided he does not want the job. The scheming Carol, hearing Jerry's bitter description of Gifford's machinations, goes to Gifford's study and insinuates that if he promotes Jerry, she will become his mistress. Gifford replies that he is not giving the job to Jerry, who he says has a terrible handicap holding him back despite his talent, and when the infuriated Carol tells Jerry, he lashes out at her. Telling her that he is sick of her interference and sexual games, Jerry orders her to leave, then goes down alone to dinner. Knowing that Gifford will be announcing his decision after dinner, the couples glumly poke at their food until Evelyn upbraids her brother for being sadistic. Gifford tells Bill and Sid that the company takes pride in them, then tells Jerry that although he was the best man for the job, he had something holding him back. Realizing that Gifford is referring to Carol, Jerry is gratified when Gifford praises him for having the courage to change his life, then offers him the job of general manager. The happy guests then celebrate by joining Gifford in a toast to his team, their wives and a "great, big, wonderful woman's world."
George E. Stone
Paul S. Fox
Arthur L. Kirbach
Cyril J. Mockridge
Cyril J. Mockridge
Edward B. Powell
Walter M. Scott
When the top job of General Manager opens up at Gifford Motor Company, a luxury car manufacturer in New York, the corporate boss Ernest Gifford (Clifton Webb) summons his top three regional salesmen to the Big Apple along with their wives. Sid and Liz Burns (Fred MacMurray and Lauren Bacall) are a sophisticated couple from Philadelphia with their marriage on the verge of collapse due to Sid's workaholic ways. Bill and Katie Baxter (Cornel Wilde and June Allyson) are a loving family-oriented couple from the Midwest, but Katie has no interest in moving to New York, and her frequent social blunders make her ill-suited to the jet set crowd. Finally, there is Jerry and Carol Talbot (Van Heflin and Arlene Dahl), an ambitious couple from Texas, with the va-va-voom Carol willing to do just about anything to help her husband get ahead. What the three couples don't realize is that Mr. Gifford will decide who gets the coveted promotion based on how the wives -not just the men-- stand up to his thorough inspection. Filmed in lush CinemaScope and Technicolor, Woman's World features top-notch performances from an all-star cast as well as plenty of gorgeous time capsule shots of 1950s New York.
According to the American Film Institute Catalogue, the initial story idea for Woman's World came from the novelette May the Best Wife Win by Mona Williams, first published in McCall's Magazine. No fewer than five screenwriters tinkered with the script, one of whom - Claude Binyon - was initially tapped to direct the film. However, Twentieth Century-Fox chief Darryl Zanuck ultimately replaced him with the more established Jean Negulesco. The widescreen anamorphic CinemaScope process was still quite new, and Negulesco had just delivered two big Oscar-nominated CinemaScope hits for Fox: How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and Three Coins in the Fountain (1954). Negulesco was considered a polished director who not only understood how to showcase CinemaScope well but could also bring a light, sophisticated touch to the melodrama, all while serving up delicious shots of the luxurious settings and sumptuous gowns worn by the leading ladies. With his experience, Negulesco managed to pull off a delicate balance of marital drama, corporate politics, and just enough humor to keep it from getting bogged down in its own seriousness. June Allyson handled the bulk of the comic relief with her character's bumbling bouts of foot-in-mouth disease, with Lauren Bacall throwing her share of side-eyed zingers along the way.
By all accounts, Woman's World was a happy set. Negulesco was a much beloved director who had just worked with Bacall on How to Marry a Millionaire, and Clifton Webb on Three Coins in the Fountain. Webb was also a close friend of Bacall and her husband Humphrey Bogart, and the two were thrilled to be working together. Love was also in the air for some of the cast, creating an atmosphere of joy that permeated the set. Arlene Dahl was in the midst of a romance with dashing Fernando Lamas whom she would marry that same year, and Fred MacMurray was busy romancing actress June Haver, who would become his second wife soon after shooting wrapped on the film.
Despite all the positive energy and talent that surrounded Woman's World, the film was not the big hit that Fox hoped it would be. Box office business was impacted by its inevitable comparisons to MGM's just-released Executive Suite, which almost every critic pointed out in their reviews. However, reviewers were also quick to praise the excellent casting choices and single out its gorgeous visuals. "Woman's World is Hollywood at its commercial best," said Variety, "a highly-polished product, technically and story-wise...The entire cast, under Jean Negulesco's fine direction, contribute a performance as polished as the entire production."
The sleek cars featured in the film befitting the fictional Gifford Motor Company were provided by Ford and Lincoln-Mercury. According to Clifton Webb in his 2011 autobiography Sitting Pretty: The Life and Times of Clifton Webb, Ford also built two specially designed "futuristic" cars for the film at a cost exceeding three million dollars.
The sexual politics of Woman's World may be a throwback to its 1950s era, but it stands up as a thoroughly entertaining and well-acted film that should delight any viewer. As for who gets the top job in the end, the film is sure to keep you guessing until the final moment.
By Andrea Passafiume
The working title of this film was A Woman's World. In the opening credits, the singing group The Four Aces is billed as "Four Aces." After the end credits, a written epilogue reads: "The advance-design motor vehicles, styling models and other materials shown in this production were made available through the courtesy of the Ford Division, Lincoln-Mercury Division and Engineering Staff of the Ford Motor Company." According to a February 2, 1954 Daily Variety news item, co-screenwriter Claude Binyon was originally set to direct the picture, but was replaced by Jean Negulesco. On February 14, 1954, New York Times reported that Eleanor Parker, Glenn Ford and Charlton Heston were in the film's cast. April 1954 Hollywood Reporter news items announced that Gloria Grahame and Jean Peters were to be in the cast, and that "the highest budget ever set by Twentieth Century-Fox on a modern drama-3.25 million dollars" had been approved by production chief Darryl F. Zanuck. According to studio publicity, Peters fell ill with the flu and was replaced by Arlene Dahl.
Although a June 22, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Gene Tierney would be appearing in the picture as a movie star besieged by autograph seekers at the 21 Club, that scene does not appear in the finished picture. The news item also stated that the role had been offered to Tierney after it was turned down by Marilyn Monroe, who was committed to another picture. Other Hollywood Reporter news items noted that background sequences and second unit footage were shot on location in New York City. The picture marked the last film Cornel Wilde made for Twentieth Century-Fox under his long-term contract with the studio.
Released in United States Fall October 1954
Released in United States Fall October 1954