FEASTING ON SALT & PEPPER CHIPS
Back in 2003, Entertainment Weekly named The Best of Everything as one of the Top 50 Cult Films of All Time. On any pop culture list, it’s pretty tasty trash, as consumable as Kettle’s addictive Salt & Pepper Chips. Have the economy size handy. With a bang up cast trying to pull up from one sexist situational low after another: Joan Crawford, Hope Lange, Brian Aherne, Diane Baker, Suzy Parker, Martha Hyer and, Vitalis’d to the max, Stephen Boyd, Louis Jourdan, Brett Halsey. Pulling in the opposite direction, the irredeemable Robert Evans who, quipped a critic some years ago, “gives good sleaze.” Someone must have decided Lange needed to look like Grace Kelly; the closest she gets is Vera Miles. Hyer’s role feels sliced because it is; previews indicated audiences didn’t go for her brand of adultery with the nongreaser Donald Harron. Crawford’s abbreviated as well: as a seasoned bitch she brings star power and some good laughs, especially her phone conversation with her married lover, but we need more of her—maybe her cut drunk scene? The indelibly American beauty Suzy—whose gliding frame was the hanger every designer would kill for, and whose tongue-in-cheek frolic in front of a still photographer made her justly famous—goes unconvincingly warpy for slimebag Jourdan. Suzy providing maid service to Joanie, or rummaging through garbage and stuffing used hose into her coat pocket? Not with that face, behind which was a sharp, outspoken mind as the inspiration for Audrey’s Funny Face. (A relatively short acting career, Suzy’s one decent work is with Gary Cooper in Ten North Frederick.) Forerunners to Sex and the City and Mad Men, Rona Jaffe’s novel, which Don Draper reads in bed, and this movie were immensely popular among late 50s and early 60s high school and college skirts who would dream of working in the big city, hoping to get coveted entry positions in the glass jungles of book publishing, ad agencies and insurance companies as entrée to romance. In his irreproducible style Johnny Mathis sings the Oscar-nominated title song, with Sammy Cahn lyrics like “You found the moon and the sun, yes, he’s the one it seems, but soon it’s done and not the fun it seems.” (Dominic Frontiere, who plays the accordion in the musical score, borrows Alfred Newman’s theme for a Monte Carlo casino sequence in 1960’s Seven Thieves.) Directed by Jean Negulesco; Jerry Wald producer.
Text COPYRIGHT © 2001 RALPH BENNER (Revised 2/2014) All Rights Reserved.