Executive Suite

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Movie Info

Cameron Hawley's novel of corporate in-fighting and gamesmanship was brought to the screen by producer John Houseman and director Robert Wise, working successfully in the slickest MGM style. When Avery Bullard, the hard-charging president of Tredway, the third-largest furniture maker in the United States, dies suddenly at the end of a business week, it sets off a scramble among the surviving vice presidents to see which of them will succeed him. Among the latter, the best positioned to take the job is Loren Shaw (Fredric March), an ambitious bean-counter-type who is more concerned with the profits that the company generates than the quality of what it produces. Opposing him are Frederick Alderson (Walter Pidgeon), Bullard's longtime right-hand man, and McDonald Walling (William Holden), a forward-thinking idea man brought in by Bullard but never given a wholly free hand (mostly thanks to Shaw). But Alderson's age works against him, as does his seeming lack of leadership -- and Walling is not ready (or so he thinks) to take the president's job, nor does he really want it. Caught in the same dilemma are Walter Dudley (Paul Douglas), the head of sales, who is being quietly blackmailed by Shaw over an affair with his secretary; Jesse Grimm (Dean Jagger), a production man who has always been distrustful of Walling's new ideas; and George Caswell (Louis Calhern), a duplicitous corporate player who will do anything -- including compromise the future of the company -- to protect his own financial position. And possibly holding the balance of power between them is Julia Tredway (Barbara Stanwyck), the daughter of the company's founder (who committed suicide during the Great Depression) and a major shareholder, whose unrequited love for Bullard clouds all of her thinking about the company. And caught in the middle of their struggle -- which literally has a clock ticking, toward the opening of business on Monday morning -- are the thousands of employees of Tredway, represented by a handful of fine character actors, whose jobs and futures hang in the balance over who wins this fight.

Cast

William Holden
as McDonald Walling
June Allyson
as Mary Blemond Walling
Barbara Stanwyck
as Julia Tredway
Fredric March
as Loren Phineas Shaw
Walter Pidgeon
as Frederick Y. Alderson
Shelley Winters
as Eva Bardeman
Paul Douglas
as Josiah Walter Dudley
Louis Calhern
as George Nyle Caswell
Dean Jagger
as Jesse W. Grimm
Nina Foch
as Erica Martin
Tim Considine
as Mike Walling
William Phipps
as Bill Lundeen
Lucy Knoch
as Mrs. George Nyle Caswell
Mary Adams
as Sara Asenath Grimm
Virginia Brissac
as Edith Alderson
Edgar Stehli
as Julius Steigel
Harry Shannon
as Ed Benedeck
Charles Wagenheim
as Luigi Cassoni
Virginia Eiler
as Western Union Operator
Robin Camp
as Mailroom Boy
Ray Mansfield
as Alderson's Secretary
Bert Davidson
as Salesman
May McAvoy
as Grimm's Secretary
Willis Bouchey
as Morgue Official
John Doucette
as Morgue Official
Esther Michelson
as News Dealer
Gus Schilling
as News Dealer
Abe Dinovitch
as Cab Driver
Faith Geer
as Stork Club Hatcheck Girl
Mimi Doyle
as Telephone Operator
Paul Bryar
as Stork Club Waiter
John Banner
as Enrique, Stork Club Waiter Captain
Raoul Freeman
as Avery Bullard
Bob Carson
as Lee Ormond
John Hedloe
as Reporter
Wilson Wood
as Airport Clerk
Michael Lally
as Spectator at Ball Game
Phil Chambers
as Toll Station Attendant
Matt Moore
as Servant
Carl Saxe
as Worker
Kazia Orzazewski
as Liz, Old Woman
Burt Mustin
as Sam Teal
Helen Brown
as Miss Clark
John McKee
as Umpire
Ann Tyrrell
as Shaw's Secretary
Chet Huntley
as Narrator/Tredway
Roy Engel
as Jimmy Farrell
Maide Norman
as Wailing Housekeeper
Dan Riss
as City Editor
David McMahon
as Reporter
Jack Gargan
as Bit Role
Jerry Sheldon
as Bit Role
Gene Coogan
as Bit Role
Darren Dublin
as Bit Role
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Critic Reviews for Executive Suite

All Critics (8) | Fresh (8)

Audience Reviews for Executive Suite

  • Sep 05, 2010
    A great movie about corporate competition, and with great actors too.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • May 17, 2009
    Very good 50's corporate drama. Top cast all give fine perfomances. Holden and June Allyson are well matched and Barbara gives her all in her few scenes.
    jay n Super Reviewer
  • Dec 04, 2007
    McDonald Walling: If you want to stab a dead man, why don't you do it yourself, instead of having someone else do it for you?<p> Julia O. Treadway: Get out of here.<p> McDonald Walling: Go on, sell out! Smash everything he lived for. That's what you want to do, isn't it? Pay him back for loving the company more than he could love you? <p> Julia O. Treadway: Will you get out of here!<p> When John Houseman serves as the producer of a film, I most assuredly sit up and pay attention. Houseman's acumen as a producer, as a director, as a production assistant to the likes of Orson Welles on <i>Citizen Kane</i>, and even more visibly as a stage and screen actor on projects such as <i>The Paper Chase</i>, is extremely keen. Okay, so there are some poor moments in this film. The one clinch-and-break scene quoted at the top here is a prime example. Overall, however, William Holden's acting lifts this cunning portrait of corporate business mentality to a whole new higher plane. What do you think?<p> On the heels of having watched <i>Stalag 17</i> for the umpteenth time last week, a role for which Holden was nominated for Best Actor, I have to say that, in my first viewing of <i>Executive Suite,</i> he's even better here. You watch this and you know why he rose to the top of the Hollywood acting food chain. Contrast the very wooden moment cited above with his dressing down of the Treadway board of directors scene just before the movie ends, and you will see Mr. Holden on absolute acting fire. <p> And in the scene immediately following, you'll watch Barbara Stanwyck absolutely dominate the landscape in a face-to-face with June Allyson. It's as if you're watching a split screen of two different movies. Stanwyck stands out in full 3-D relief; Allyson is almost a paper silhouette, a kind of Javanese shadow puppet by comparison. Additionally, Fredric March and Shelley Winters prove why they went as far as they did in the acting business. <p> What a wonderful, if uneven, film. Mr. Houseman, you are truly missed. Gotta add William Holden to my all-time favorite actors list pronto : )
    Lanning : Super Reviewer
  • Aug 09, 2007
    When Executive Suite started and the credits rolled off the names that made up the powerhouse cast (finishing with directing credit going to the late, great Robert Wise) I thought I was in for a greatly underrated and overlooked classic. When the end credits rolled I by no stretch of the imagination felt the same way. The first half hour to 45 minutes of Executive Suite started off strong enough but eventually turned into an instructional video about how to helm a hostile takeover. The cast was good enough even if there wasn't nearly enough Barbara Stanwyck. Not enough of my interest was held for me to get the details but by the time William Holden delivered that Rynd-esque speech at the end I didn't really care enough to recommend this movie. But then again my DVR cut off at the very end.
    Michael G Super Reviewer

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