If you’ve been craving your upscale mid-century office fix ever since Mad Men ended, here’s the film to scratch the itch. Robert Wise’s Executive Suite is the ultimate corporate confection/dissection, packed with backstabbing stockholders, long-suffering secretaries, and a healthy dose of cynical yet stoic social conscience, personified by that tall drink of water known as William Holden.
Released in 1954, Executive Suite showcases the best of high-gloss studio-era filmmaking: sleek sets, flawlessly photographed women, snappy dialogue (written by Sweet Smell of Success’s Ernest Lehman), and a cavalcade of great “Oh, it’s that guy!” actors like Frederic March, Walter Pidgeon, Shelley Winters, and Nina Foch, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance. But it’s also a time capsule that reveals as much about the business culture of the 1950s as Wall Street would about that of the ’80s – an entertaining reminder that executive bad behavior didn’t start (and won’t end) with Enron.
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