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Review: The Fast Runner
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flick pick | The Best of Everything 1959
Directed by: Jean Negulesco
Written by: Rona Jaffe (novel), Mann Rubin, Edith R. Sommer
Starring: Hope Lange, Stephen Boyd, Suzy Parker, Martha Hyer, Diane Baker
Look for it at the video store under: drama
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: camp-o-riffic, nostalgic
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 

Plot synopsis It's New York, 1959, and the pill and women's lib are just around the corner for the legions of unmarried maidens flocking to the big city in search of their (wedded) future. Among them is well-mannered Connecticut WASP, Caroline Bender (Grace Kelly look-alike Hope Lange), neatly turned out for her first day at Fabian Publishing in hat, gloves and charming tweed suit. The other girls in the office pool surrounding her seem so friendly and accepting. There's wide-eyed April (Diane Baker), an innocent country girl made of pure sugar, Barbara (Martha Hyer), the (gasp!) unwedded mother who may or may not be sleeping with Mr. Shalimar, and brassy aspiring actress Gregg (Chanel model Suzy Parker), a true man-eater who's all curves and confidence. Problem is, editor Joan Crawford (as spinster Amanda Farrow) is head honcho around the office and isn't about to let the good times roll unless she can roll some ingénue heads first. Caroline shrugs off Miss Farrow's catty sniping -- after all, Fabian is just a place to cool her heels until the triumphant day when her fiancé, Eddie, returns from Europe to wed and domesticate her. When Eddie breaks off the wedding to take up with a wealthy oil heiress, however, the brainy and beautiful Caroline escapes by plunging headlong into the publishing world, racking up promotions like hatboxes and catching the eye of dimple-chinned, alcoholic co-worker, Mike (Stephen Boyd). Meanwhile, April's found a rich cad of her own, Gregg has fallen hard for a playboy director and Mr. Shalimar can't keep his hands off the office girls' behinds. Miscarriages, romance, booze and bright jackets -- this gut-wrenching, vibrant melodrama has it all. Will Caroline choose work over womanhood? Will her friends wind up with broken hearts? And will these young, innocent colts in the city ever attain the best of everything?

Review This isn't a popcorn flick. We're talking bonbons, chilled blush wine and possibly an emergency hanky -- not for honest, empathetic weeping, but for the tears of laughter flowing fast and loud from your most sardonic friend. She'll still be sucked into Rona Jaffe's nail-bitingly whimsical world of car accidents, hunky doctors, country club picnics and the pleasure of watching Suzy Parker go insane. All cynicism aside, The Best of Everything claws under your skin. Watch it once and you'll have to watch it a dozen times. Must be the vicarious delight of watching well-coiffed darlings battle those bestial 1950's men for their hearts, chastity, and even lives. Justifiably, the film has been blasted for its work vs. wife dichotomy. It's hard to make excuses for any film that has Joan Crawford, as one of her typically strong female characters, regretting that in waiting too long for love, she forever lost her opportunity to be a real woman. But we're not solidly in the dark ages here: women have premarital sex and live (okay, not all, but some) and the unwed mother is independent, elegant and gainfully employed. And even if Crawford isn't allowed to be a multi-dimensional woman, she's at least a female boss with a ton of responsibility. But hey, what's a social message when you can sink gleefully into this decadent and engaging trifle? —reviewed by Amy Nicholson

Amy Nicholson is a film festival junkie devoted to under-appreciated and classic cinema while championing House Party as the greatest genre flick of all time. She loves Busby Berkeley musicals, Johnny Depp, and offbeat documentaries -- especially those where all the main characters are rotten. Amy would also like to meet Jackey Vinson, the kid who played power glove-wielding villain Lucas Barton in the Nintendo drama, The Wizard.

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