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|Directed by||Robert Wise|
|Produced by||John Houseman|
|Written by||Ernest Lehman|
|Based on||Executive Suite by
|Running time||104 minutes|
|Box office||$2.75 million (US)|
Executive Suite is a 1954 MGM drama film depicting the transfer of power in a corporation in trouble. The film stars William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck, Fredric March, and Walter Pidgeon. It was directed by Robert Wise and produced by John Houseman from a screenplay by Ernest Lehman based on the novel of the same name by Cameron Hawley. The cinematography was by George J. Folsey and the costume design by Helen Rose.
It is one of the few Hollywood films with no music whatsoever.
Avery Bullard, president and driving force of the Tredway Corporation, a major company in the small town of Millburgh, Pennsylvania, dies suddenly while in New York City. Bullard drops dead in the street after a stroke moments after telegraphing his secretary with orders to call a meeting of the executive board. At that meeting it was likely he would name an executive vice president who would be his presumptive successor.
But Bullard is now dead and without an agreed successor. So the board of directors, four of whose members are vice presidents who could rise to the top job, must vote for his replacement. The frontrunner is the ambitious but unimaginative Loren Shaw, the company Controller concerned more with profitability and satisfying the stockholders than the quality of the company's products. He holds the proxy of the main shareholder and board member Julia Tredway, who had been hopelessly in love with Bullard. In addition, board member George Caswell, one of the investment bankers with whom Bullard had been meeting in New York, offers his support in return for certain lucrative considerations.
The only viable alternative is idealistic Vice President for Design Don Walling, who is not even sure he wants the job. He would rather spend his time developing new products and more efficient manufacturing methods, and his wife Mary is strongly against his giving up that dream. Walling is supported by Treasurer Frederick Alderson, Bullard's best friend, who sees Walling as the best hope for saving the company, but fears he might be too young for the job. Jesse Grimm is opposed to Walling for reasons of his own, while Walt Dudley is being blackmailed by Shaw, having been caught by him having an affair.
The machinations, bargaining and maneuvering leading up to the election propel the plot. In the end, Walling's enthusiasm and vision pour out in a boardroom speech and he is elected the new company president.
The film also received two BAFTA Awards nominations:
The film won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival for best ensemble acting for the entire cast.
More than two decades later, the film and novel were adapted into a weekly dramatic television series. Airing on CBS in 1976-77, the TV version changed the fictional corporate setting to the Cardway Corporation in Los Angeles. Mitchell Ryan starred as company chairman Dan Walling, with Sharon Acker as his wife, Helen and Leigh McCloskey and Wendy Phillips as his children, Brian and Stacey. Other series regulars included Stephen Elliott, Byron Morrow, Madlyn Rhue, William Smithers, Paul Lambert, Richard Cox, Trisha Noble, Carl Weintraub, Maxine Stuart, and Ricardo Montalban.
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