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Woman’s World

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Woman's World, (1954) starring Clifton Webb, Lauren Bacall, Fred MacMurray, Cornel Wilde, June Allyson, Van Heflin, Arlene Dahl
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Woman’s World, (1954) starring Clifton Webb, Lauren Bacall, Fred MacMurray, Cornel Wilde, June Allyson, Van Heflin, Arlene Dahl

Synopsis of Woman’s World

In Woman’s World, the chairman of a large automobile maker is left to find a new second in command. Believing that an executive’s wife is crucial to her husband’s success he examines each of the men’s spouses to learn about the candidates through their relationships. Clifton Webb, June Allyson, Van Heflin, and Lauren Bacall star in this 1954 classic.

Review of Woman’s World

Ernest Gifford (Clifton Webb) in "Woman's World"

In short, Woman’s World is an excellent drama, with a great cast giving great performances.  The conflict deals with an automobile executive, who needs to replace his right-hand man.  A man who literally worked himself to death.  He has the selection for General Manager narrowed down to one of three men.  But, he believes that the executive’s wife is essential to the GM’s success.  So he invites all three couples to New York, where he interviews husbands and wives.

What makes this film so interesting is the interaction between the couples, the men interviewed, and the women who are all rooting for their husbands.  It’s very entertaining to watch, with a surprising ending.  Excellent acting all around, and an unflinching look at the cost of success, combine to make an excellent movie.

Cast of characters in Woman’s World

  • Ernest Gifford (Clifton WebbLaura).  The hub of this automobile wheel.  He’s looking for the right man to be the next General Manager.  And spends a lot of time interviewing the men, learning their values. And interviewing the wives as well, with help.

Sid and Elizabeth

Sid and Elizabeth (Fred MacMurray, Lauren Bacall) in "Woman's World"
  • Sid Burns (Fred MacMurrayThe Caine Mutiny).  A gung-ho company man, who’s worked himself from the assembly line up to district manager.  He’s a company man who’s developed his first ulcer.  And whose wife fears that he’s working himself into an early grave.
  • Elizabeth Burns (Laurel BacallIn a Lonely Place).  Sid’s wife, who loves her husband, and knows that he’s killing himself.  And she can’t stand to watch it happen.  At the beginning of the movie, she’s planning to divorce him.  But as the movie plays out …

Bill and Katie

Bill and Katie (Cornel Wilde, June Allyson) in "Woman's World"
  • Bill Baxter (Cornel Wilde, The Greatest Show on Earth).  A very likable person, good at this job.  Someone who would very likely excel at the job.  Except that it would mean uprooting his wife and children from Kansas City.  And seeing a lot less of them.  And he loves his wife very much.
  • Katie Baxter (June AllysonRoyal Wedding).  A very nice, sweet, wife and mother.  A fish out of water in New York City.  She has several comedic moments of not fitting in – but she’s smarter than she lets on.  And she becomes friends with Elizabeth as well.

Jerry and Carol

Jerry and Carol (Van Heflin, Arlene Dahl) in "Woman's World"
  • Jerry Talbot (Van Heflin, Till the Clouds Roll By).  A nice, smart, capable, ambitious man.  He seems like a perfect fit for the position.  And his wife is very determined for him to get it.
  • Carol Talbot (Arlene Dahl, Three Little Words).  Jerry’s wife – a social climber and gold digger.  She very wants Jerry to get the job so that she can climb to the top.  A woman who is willing to do anything for Jerry to get the job.  A very different role for Arlene Dahl, and she does an excellent job in it.

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