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Thursday, October 1, 2015

CASH MCCALL (1960)

Why vet Warners producer Henry Blanke put B-list megger Joseph Pevney on this full-rigged prestige item is anyone’s guess. Pevney, not one to bring much to the party, manages to keep his big cast in line, but the film’s at best a missed opportunity. Natalie Wood, in a charming perf that doesn’t strain her natural limitations, is the daughter of Dean Jaggar, a manufacturing prez looking to sell out. James Garner’s Cash McCall is a likely buyer with two knocks against him: he’s more turnover specialist than company man, and he’s got a shared romantic past with Wood that ended badly. The script relies on too many contrived misunderstandings, especially a misogynist’s delight of a subplot with Nina Foch as a sexually frustrated virago. But many ideas & dialogue play with a nifty Shavian swing to them, sort of a sub-MAJOR BARBARA overview/dialectic on responsible capitalism. This from, of all people, longtime woman’s pic specialist Leonore Coffee on her last movie credit. But it all could have been so much better. Something Foch & Jaggar may have gossiped about as former supporting players on director Robert Wise & scripter Ernest Lehman’s EXECUTIVE SUITE/’54, a corporate drama that touches most of the bases missed here.

DOUBLE-BILL: As mentioned, EXECUTIVE SUITE; the modern snark of OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY/’91 with Greg Peck, Danny DeVito & Dean Jones; or even BARBARIAN’S AT THE GATE/’93 with James Garner still at the game.

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