The Best of Everything (Jean Negulesco 1959)
Amazed nobody has yet mentioned this. One of the very last of the the "three girls setting out to make it" pictures (a sub genre of both the musical and the melodrama) which more or less begins with some deft precoders by Mervyn Leroy, Three on a Match and Gold Diggers of 1933 and ends in ignominous camp with Valley of the Dolls in 1967. By which time such primal feminist issues as a woman's roles and freedom were supposedly getting sorted out. They still aren't.
Best has been overlooked by far too many people either as pulp trash, or worse as late Negulesco after his slide into meaningless Fox 'Scope mediocrity. The verdict is still out for me on How to Marry a Millionaire and Three Coins in the Fountain - they both have their defenders. But the neglect of Best is indefensible.
I really recommend the Fox R1 disc. This is a beautiful transfer of Deluxe Scope (quite possibly from a Techni print - the color is far more saturatedf than, say, Daddy Long Legs or the two Tashlins) with a terrific perspecta four channel soundtrack. You know it's a few cuts away from routine with the Johny Mathis bittersweet theme song which Negulesco plays off against increasingly rapid montage of milling crowds of women arriving for work.
The three leads are Hope Lange, a very young Diane Baker and Suzy Parker - a magnbificent red haired beauty whose first movie part is a couple of bits from the "Think Pink" number in Funny Face - to which this movie owes quite a bit. Rona Jaffe, the author of the novel which Jerry Wald optioned before it was published is on hand for commentary and is unsparing about office and sexual politics. She's a blast.
There's a lot to love here, not least Negulesco's fabulous staging of sets - the office is a mockup of one from the Seagram Building location which is punctuated horizontally by Mondiran-like colored doors and panels. The apartments of the older "professionals", like Joan Crawford and particularly Louis Jourdan are unbelievable. Both dressed with great blocks of deep acid color, and artworks (many by Negulesco) giving physical expressions to the owners' personalities. Tight screenplay, terrific direction of the women and wonderful performances from all. As one fo the very last melodramas in the great Hollywood tradition I think Negulesco has managed to easily bridge the gap between the old star power treatment and studio shooting, with location and gritty actuality, despite the contemporary censorship constraints (on the abortion aspect for example.) His taste and discrimination in design, and his subtle direction of performance and dialogue is clearly on a par with the earlier Warner period including Humoresque, Three Strangers and Mask of Dimitrios.
This easily makes my fifties list.