This largely-forgotten, big-budget, Technicolor drama tells the story of three men who compete for the top position at a large New York company and how this possible career move will affect their wives.

Even though the story is primarily set in NYC, like most big studio productions in the 1950s, all principal photography was done back in Hollywood. However, a crew did spend several days on the East Coast shooting on-location footage, sometimes utilizing body doubles for the main cast, which includes such big names as Lauren Bacall, Clifton Webb, June Allyson, Fred MacMurray, and Cornel Wilde. 




The movie opens with an aerial shot of the southern tip of Manhattan, looking north at Battery Park.


We next get a glimpse of the United Nations Building on First Avenue.

These types of aerial shots in movies are usually pretty easy to figure out their location since they often feature at least one iconic landmark. These old shots are also fascinating when compared to modern views, showcasing how much has grown over the years with more and more skyscrapers filling up the space, both in Manhattan and the neighboring boroughs.

With more drone video footage and aerial photography available online these days, it’s becoming easier to find modern images that match the same vantage point used in these old movies. Fortunately, I found photos of both lower Manhattan and the UN Building that roughly matched the angles used in this opening montage to Woman’s World, giving us a nice sense of how much more dense Manhattan Island has gotten since 1954.

The Office

After a series of aerial shots of the city, we finally end up on an office building at 99 Park Avenue.

The camera pans down to reveal Ernest Gifford, owner of Gifford Motors, entering his building, on a mission to hire a new general manager for his company. 


I quickly assessed that this office building was on Park Avenue thanks to the presence of the Murray Hill Tunnel which can be seen in both the initial wide shot (on the far right) and in footage used for the rear protection plates. The tunnel runs under Park from E 33rd Street to E 40th where it then feeds into the viaduct at Grand Central. Since the 33rd Street entrance is on a noticeable hill, I knew the building was next to the tunnel’s exit, placing it on the southwest corner of Park and 40th.

While the initial shot was filmed on location in New York, all the close ups of actor Clifton Webb were done on a Twentieth Century-Fox soundstage using rear projection.

This is a technique they would use throughout the film, and quite frankly, wasn’t done terribly well. This is probably partly due to the crew’s lack of experience working with Cinemascope equipment, which was just starting to be utilized in 1954.

On a 20th Century soundstage, cinematographer Joseph MacDonald shows actres Arlene Dahl the CinemaScope Technicolor camera used for the film.

But I think the main reason the rear projection looks particularly flat and unconvincing is because many filmmakers weren’t very concerned with realism during the 1950s, still embracing the acting and visual styles of the early 20th century. This especially seems to be the case for the bigger, more extravagant studio pictures of the time, which were more concerned with star power and lavish sets than creating an authentic portrayal of the world. But by the 1960s, this ideology would start to fade with the end of the “Hollywood Studio System” and the emergence of independent filmmaking.


Arriving in New York

The first married couple, Bill and Katie Baxter, arrive in New York by plane, flying near the Empire State Building on Fifth Avenue


Next, Jerry Talbot and his seductive counterpart Carol arrive by train, traveling east over the Portal Bridge in Secaucus, NJ.


Rounding out the trio are Sidney and Elizabeth Burns, who arrive by automobile, entering the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey.


As they discuss their failing marriage, the couple emerges from the tunnel’s southern tube at W 39th Street in Manhattan. 


This sequence of three couples arriving in New York is interesting if you consider that when their three modes of transportation are listed together, they form the familiar — planes, trains and automobiles.

Unfortunately, unlike the aerial photography from the opening montage of this movie, I wasn’t able to find matching modern photos for this “Arriving in New York” sequence. For both the plane and train shots, I had to rely on Google’s 3D satellite view to find a similar angle. Not to say Google isn’t a great tool for lining up severe overhead shots, but the image quality can be subpar at times and the final result can look a bit cartoonish.

The aerial shot of the plane arriving in New York was clearly taken in Midtown Manhattan with the Empire State Building being the obvious standout in the urban landscape. But the ESB is much less noticeable these days when compared to all the other towering skyscrapers in the city, many of which are concentrated in the recently-constructed Hudson Yards.

Looking north in Manhattan with the EBS on the right and the Hudson Yards on the left which almost looks like some compact celestial city that just landed there.

The shot of the train crossing a rural bridge wasn’t as easy to identify since it was clear it wasn’t shot in any central part of NYC. By the look of the land and the style of the antiquated bridge, I had a feeling it took place somewhere in New Jersey, particularly somewhere along the Hackensack River. After a little searching online, I came upon a match with the Portal Bridge which runs across the river between Secaucus and Kearny.

A head-on shot of the Portal Bridge shortly after its construction in 1910. 

The Portal Bridge is a two-track moveable swing-span overpass that is owned and operated by Amtrak, and used extensively by NJ Transit. While modest in appearance, it is considered the busiest railroad crossing in the United States, serving approximately 450 trains each day.

Originally opened in 1910, the bridge was starting to be considered obsolete by the early 2000s. Plus, its need to continuously swing open to allow commercial boats to pass underneath often caused delays and commuter chaos. The Portal Bridge’s old age became more noticeable as train speeds across its span were being limited and the swinging mechanism would regularly malfunction or completely breakdown. But like many early mechanical devices, the malfunctions were often easily fixed, sometimes being as simple as a rail-worker slamming a piece back into place with a sledgehammer.

But the writing was on the wall, and earlier this year, a groundbreaking took place in New Jersey marking the construction of a new bridge that will eventually replace the early 20th century train overpass. Receiving both Federal, State and corporate funding (amounting to $1.8 billion), the new “Portal Bridge North” is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2025. I can only assume plans to dismantle the old bridge will take place sometime after that, although it would be nice if it was left in place, even as a ceremonial relic of a bygone era.

When it came to the last couple arriving by automobile, it was fairly clear they came via the Lincoln Tunnel (which incidentally was named after the 16th president as a counterpart to the George Washington Bridge up the river). What’s interesting about these shots is seeing some of the changes that have taken place since 1954, the most noticeable being the addition of a third tube.

Construction of the first tube for the Lincoln Tunnel, 1938.

The first tube of the Lincoln Tunnel, which connects Weehawken, New Jersey to Midtown Manhattan, was formally dedicated on December 21, 1937. While a second tube was also being constructed at that time, its completion was delayed until 1945, mostly due to material shortages during WWII.

The third tube was built to the south of the first two and officially opened in the spring of 1957 after its own set of delays.

From c 1957, looking at the Lincoln Tunnel’s new Manhattan exit portal (on the left), as well as the portal to the center tube (on the right). 

When the third tube was installed, it also required some significant changes to the Manhattan side of the tunnel, consisting of the reconfiguration of the streets and ramps. Some of these changes can be seen in the last “before/after” image above.


The Plaza Hotel

A taxicab drives west on W 59th Street, passing the William Sherman Monument in Grand Army Plaza.


One by one, the couples arrive at the Plaza Hotel at 768 5th Avenue.


The last to arrive are the Baxters, where the wife Katie immediately becomes overwhelmed by the luxuriousness of the accommodations. 


The Plaza is probably one of the most famous old-school hotels in New York, easily identified by its ornate architecture and its proximity to Central Park. Countless number of films have been shot in and around the luxury hotel, including another production from the 1950s, Hitchcock’s, North By Northwest. 

Unfortunately, the entrance has been shrouded in scaffolding for the last few years as renovations are being made to the landmark building. No word on when the unsightly apparatus will be removed from the site, so in the meantime, all modern pictures I take of the hotel will be obscured by a mesh of metal and boards.


Stork Club

Later on, the three couples meet up with Ernest Gifford at the famed Stork Club at 3 E 53rd Street


Like most scenes from this movie, this one starts with a quick establishing shot filmed on location in New York and immediately switches to a Hollywood set once they go inside.  However, if you want to know what the real interior of the famed Stork Club looked like, you can see it in another Hitchcock film, The Wrong Man, which got unprecedented access to the swanky, 53rd Street hangout.

Originally located on W 58th Street, the Stork Club was founded in 1929 by Sherman Billingsley, a former bootlegger from Oklahoma. After moving to E 51st for a couple years, the club settled at 3 East 53rd Street, where it remained until it’s closure in 1965  A year after the prestigious nightclub shut its doors, the building was demolished and the site was turned into a small, pocket park called Paley Park.

From 1967, shortly after the park’s unveiling, which was a million dollar gift from then-chairman of CBS, William S. Paley. (Photo from The New York TImes.)

What makes Paley Park somewhat unusual is its midblock location, with buildings abutting three of its sides , although the walls are ivy-covered, adding a more bucolic setting. Measuring just 4,200 square feet, the privately-owned public space has several serene amenities — the highlight being a 20-foot waterfall along the back wall that helps drown out the cacophony of city noises.

What I love about Paley Park is that it’s one of those charming little settings many New Yorkers are unaware even exists, and can be missed even if you’re walking right by it.


Times Square

After embarrassing herself at the Stork Club, Katie takes a cab back to the Plaza with her husband Bill, traveling north on Broadway through Times Square


This quick shot of a cab driving through Times Square features a somewhat familiar view of New York’s electrified tourist center. When I first started investigating NYC filming locations back around 2015, it took me a while before I was able to get a real sense of the layout of the old Times Square and what buildings were where. But through my continual research, I eventually got familiar with a few key landmarks that would help me get a basic lay of the land.

I figured out the orientation of this movie’s quick establishing shot by using the spectacular Bond Clothing Store as my guidepost, knowing that it used to be located on the east side of Broadway between 44th and 45th Streets.

During the store’s run from 1940 to 1977, the building was always the bright centerpiece of Times Square, notable for being covered with some of the biggest and most eye-catching neon in NYC.

Side-Times Square 1964
Looking north in Times Square, circa 1964, with the Bond Clothing Store at 1530 Broadway.
Looking north again, with the Bond Clothing Store on the eastside of Broadway, from a 1969 postcard.

At one point, the building was actually adorned with a 50,000 gallon waterfall, flanked by two massive classical statues of a man and woman who were nude by day and dressed in neon togas by night. The design also featured a 24-hour news ticker, and a giant round digital clock with the message, “Every hour, 3,490 people buy at Bond.”

Looking south from W 46th Street towards the Bond Clothing Store, circa 1949.

By the mid 1950s, Bond began leasing the outdoor space to other brands, and one of its first clients, Pepsi-Cola, turned the two human figures into giant soda bottles and the round clock into a bottle cap.

A postcard for Bond, featuring two 50-foot-tall human statues and a 27-foot-tall, 50,000 gallon waterfall, circa 1940.
The Bond Clothing store, with the redesigned Pepsi-Cola ad, 1959.

Even though the Bond Clothing Building (which was constructed in 1938) is still there today, the facade has changed so much, it looks like every other modern building in Times Square.

Another change that’s happened to Times Square since this movie was made involves Broadway and Seventh Avenue which cut diagonally through the plaza. In the movie, you can see the Baxters taking a cab north on Broadway, which at the time, had two-way traffic  However, a few years later, most of the avenues in Manhattan were converted to one-way, and all traffic in Times Square became southbound.

Broadway received another big change more recently, where it was converted to a pedestrian-only path from 42nd to 47th Street after there was a reported increase in traffic accidents in the Times Square area. The transformation was completed in 2017 and all vehicular traffic was rerouted through Seventh Avenue.

Looking South in Times Square, before and after Broadway was converted to a pedestrian-only plaza. 

In conjunction with the closure of Broadway to vehicular traffic, the project also included the addition of designated “Zones.” This was in response to complaints being made of negative interactions with the costumed characters in the Square, and the Department of Transportation was permitted to section off the plaza into different zones for different purposes.

A map of the proposed zones when the DOT was developing the new Times Square area.

The DOT created three sections: a “Civic Zone,” which is basically a seating area with chairs and tables; “Express Lanes,” which theoretically allows a faster route for pedestrians trying to get through the plaza; and “Designated Activity Zones,” where commercial activity is permitted, like picture-taking with the costumed characters (who are still notorious for hurling angry tirades at tourists who don’t pony up a generous tip).

Whether these zones actually work, it’s hard to say, since I do my very best to avoid this popular tourist spot (except when taking modern photos for this website, which I try to do early in the morning before the heedless masses begin to congregate).


Tour – Fifth Avenue

Gifford’s nephew takes the three wives on a personal tour of New York City, starting with the Atlas statue in front of Rockefeller Plaza on Fifth Avenue

They continue driving south, passing the Public Library at 476 Fifth Avenue.

These first two shots of the wives touring New York were both obviously taken on Fifth Avenue, with the distinctly recognizable Rockefeller Plaza in the first one and the New York Public Library Main Branch in the second.

Neither structure has changed very much since 1954, but admittedly, it was kind of hard getting perfectly aligned “before/after” images of the locations. This was due to the fact that this movie was being made with CinemaScope lenses, which create wide, panoramic views, but also tend to distort the image a bit.

CinemaScope was originally created in 1953 exclusively for Twentieth Century-Fox after executives saw the success of widescreen processes being employed by other studios. This rise in panoramic pictures (along with stereophonic sound and 3-D technology) was a way for motion picture studios to try to lure audiences back into theaters, which had been declining in the 1950s with the advent of home televisions.

Prior to CinemaScope, the first major widescreen format being used in theaters was something called Cinerama, which had its world premiere one year earlier in 1952.

From 1963, Pacific’s Cinerama Theatre at 6360 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles showing, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

The way Cinerama worked was three separate images would be projected from three synchronized projectors side-by-side onto a huge, deeply curved screen, creating an immersive experience that would fill the viewer’s entire field of vision. But this system was somewhat impractical as it required multiple shooting cameras on set and an entire equipment overhaul in the theater.

The advantage of CinemaScope was that the only added equipment needed was a special lens for the camera and another for the projector. And while it was ideal for the theater to have a slightly curved screen, it wasn’t necessary to show a CinemaScope film.

An early diagram from the 1950s showing how the CinemaScope system would work in a theater.

Twentieth Century-Fox eventually lent out their system to other studios, allowing anamorphic photography to become a common practice in productions, and helping boost theater attendances across the board. While CinemaScope eventually got replaced by other technologies, most notably Panavision cameras and lenses, it was instrumental in making the widescreen format the industry standard, as it still is today.

Tour – Financial District

The group next travels to the Finial District in Lower Manhattan, driving past an office furniture store at 74 Broad Street on their left.


While driving around, Katie absently jokes that Mr. Gifford looks like a “string bean,” not realizing that their tour guide is a relative of his. 


This is pretty much the only location I had to do a little legwork to figure out where it took place, although by the looks of the surrounding buildings, I was pretty sure it was somewhere in Lower Manhattan.

Aside from the architecture, the one potential clue in the scene was a neon sign for an “A. Blank Office Furniture.” However, I wasn’t too optimistic it would be of much help. The reason being, when a retail sign contains some random person’s full name, I’ve found that those businesses tended to be somewhat obscure and short-lived, which made finding any information on them unlikely.

A 1999 photo of the former A. Blank Office Furniture sign on the corner of Broad and Stone Streets.

But fortunately, that wasn’t the case with A. Blank Office Furniture. The primary reason is because its neon sign had managed to survive into the early 2000s and was consequently the subject on a couple websites.

A photograph of the sign was also included in the NYPL Archives as part of a collection of color snapshots taken in 1999 by conceptual artist, Dylan Stone. The caption indicated that the photo was taken at 88 Broad Street, and if you go to that address today, you can see a similarly-shaped sign for a bar/restaurant there. That would imply the new proprietors built their sign on top of the old one and that A. Blank might still be hiding underneath (although it’s likely the letters got stripped away).

However, the one puzzling thing about the sign was that it was clearly not on the same building that appeared in Woman’s World. At first, I thought that’d be a problem, but after looking around the area, I could see both buildings were just a block apart from each other on Broad Street.

According to neon expert, Thomas E Rinaldi, city records listed a 1958 installation date for a sign at 88 Broad Street —four years after this movie was released— indicating that the business probably moved locations that same year.

After consulting a 1946 phone directory, I found out that A. Blank did indeed use to be located up the street at 74 Broad, which is the building seen in this film.

After comparing the sign at no. 74 with the sign at no. 88, it’s hard to tell if its the same one or not. The lettering looks about the same, but the backing is noticeably different. The one in the movie looked white while the one at 88 had an unmistakably canary-yellow enameled backing.

A cropped-in still from the 1954 film showing A Blank at 74 Broad (left) compared to a 2006 photo of A Blank at 88 Broad (right).

As to the business itself, while the bottom of the sign claims, “Established 1899,” the first listing for A. Blank in a New York directory was in 1908 at 82 Broad Street. After that, it was listed at 73 Broad from 1910 to 1928, followed by a listing at 74 Broad. So it seems the furniture store did a lot of moving around in this small section of downtown Manhattan before finally settling on the corner of Stone.

In his research of the old sign, New York photographer Walter Grutchfield determined that the owner of the company was a Romanian immigrant named Abraham Blank, who worked in the garment and carpentry fields before opening the office furniture store in 1908.

After Abraham’s death in 1932, his sons continued to run the business into the early 1990s, which according to a couple of their print ads, had additional outlets in Miami and Los Angeles.


Tour – The United Nations

The tour then heads back uptown, where they pass the United Nations Secretariat Building at 405 E 42nd Street.


They continue north on First Avenue, passing the United Nations Visitor Centre.


Naturally, there was no question as to the location of this scene since the rectangular United Nations Secretariat Building is as recognizable as almost any other landmark in NYC. Although, when they filmed this scene in 1954, the complex was only a couple years old, and the modernist skyscraper along the East River was probably a novel sight to be seen.

While still a well-known tourist attraction, the United Nations is certainly not as popular of a destination today as it once was, not even registering on most Top 20 Lists of things to see in NYC.


Gifford’s Townhouse

Later that night, Ernest Gifford returns to his New York townhouse at 507 E 55th Street where he discusses the three potential candidates for the job with his family.


I knew this quick establishing shot was near Sutton Place on the Upper East Side due to the presence of the Queensboro Bridge in the background. It just came down to finding the specific cross street. But before I even started my search, I had a feeling the building in the film was no longer around. I’ve become quite familiar with the Sutton Place area through my research of other films, and I couldn’t recall any cross streets that had apartment buildings that looked like the ones in this scene.

I eventually focused on the northside of E 55th Street since the high-rise apartment building that’s there now was constructed five years after this movie was made. A quick trip to the 1940 tax archives and I could see the buildings that used to be there matched the film perfectly.

Today, there’s not much left that resembles this scene, other than the placement of the lamppost and fire hydrant.

A ca 1940 photo of the northeast corner of Sutton and E 55th Street (top) compared to a shot from the 1954 film (bottom), both featuring the now-demolished building that served as the Giffords’ home.

Curiously, whenever films of the 50s and 60s would portray an upper class home in NYC, they would invariably use the Sutton Place area as the setting. While this Upper East Side neighborhood did (and still does) cater to the affluent, there were certainly many other places in the city that would’ve been equally suitable, but just weren’t used as consistently by filmmakers of that time.

Of course, nowadays, pretty much any neighborhood in Manhattan would be considered upper class.


Tony’s Pizza

After having an argument with his wife, Sidney goes for a walk, crossing W 4th Street from the southwest corner of Washington Square Park.


He ends up at Tony’s, an Italian restaurant at 73 Washington Square South where he and his wife Liz used to go to during their newlywed days.


Of all the scenes from Woman’s World, this one intrigued me the most, particularly because I was already quite familiar with the location they used, having lived a couple blocks away from it when I was teenager. But I’ve always associated the site with the red, hulking library that sits where Tony’s restaurant used to be.

New York University’s Bobst Library, located across from Washington Square Park on the corner of LaGuardia Place.

Completed in 1973, the 12-story library for New York University faced several obstacles during its planning stages, mostly from Greenwich Village activists who were adamantly against its construction. Their claim was that the building’s immense size would have an “adverse impact” on Washington Square Park. But the City Planning Commission disagreed and approved the construction in a 5-2 vote.

It’s hard to say today how cogent those objections were, but NYU has definitely become a dominating presence in Greenwich Village, making Washington Square feel more like a college campus than a city park. (But at least the landscaping has remained about the same, in fact, you can see a few trees that have survived over the years in the first “before/after” image above.)

While I understand a library needed to be built, when you look at how the street looked in this 1954 film, you definitely get the feeling the atmosphere was more cozy and hospitable before it took over the block.

A 1940 tax photo of 73-76 Washington Square South (left) compared to a still from the 1954 film of the same block (right).

I am assuming Tony’s was a real restaurant, despite the fact I couldn’t find a listing in a 1946 phonebook and the circa 1940 tax photo showed a Mobilgas garage at the address. Of course, the interior of Tony’s was most definitely not real; it was just a Hollywood set.

A promotional photo of Lauren Bacall on the restaurant set in Hollywood.

Even though this set was full of Italian knickknacks and artwork, the designers didn’t seem to even attempt to make it look like an authentic Village restaurant. The lighting was too bright, the room was too wide and the decorations looked like obvious props, down to the cliché wax-dripped wine bottle candleholders on the tables.

And to add to the cartoonish quality of the scene, Tomaso, the ostentatious Italian owner of the restaurant, was played by character-actor, Alan Reed, best known as the original voice of Fred Flintstone.


Shopping at Macy’s

In her attempt to fit in better with the chic New York crowd, Katie Baxter goes shopping at Macy’s on 34th Street, looking for a upscale dress.


You can’t have a New York shopping sequence in a 1950s film without getting Macy’s involved, which as you can see in the “before/after” image above, has hardly changed over the years, except for the the corner signage.

Of course, like everything else in this movie, aside from the establishing shot, this scene was filmed back in Hollywood, using recreations of the store fronts on a soundstage. For the reverse shots, they relied on rear projection footage taken of Sixth Avenue in New York (which you can see in the image below was still two-way).

While the sets were pretty good replicas of the famous department store, once again, the rear projection looks rather flat and unconvincing. In fact, when Allyson moves from one window to the next, they didn’t bother to use a different angle of Sixth Avenue and instead just recycled the same footage.


The Yacht Trip

All three couples are invited to Gifford’s Long Island estate, and travel there on his fancy yacht, which passes under the Queensboro Bridge on the East River.


A little further up the river, near E 75th Street, a tugboat motors by, sending waves into an open porthole and drenching the always-clumsy Katie Baxter.


Another boat goes by as they reach E 83rd Street, causing Katie to get splashed again.


The location of river shots are almost always easy to nail since they give nice panoramic views of the skyline. Plus, since there are only two major rivers in NYC, there are only so many places to choose from.

What’s incredible is how much the city has grown since the 1950s, and the first “before/after” image above is exemplary in demonstrating this fact. You can see there was practically nothing above six stories surrounding the Queensboro Bridge in ’54, and now almost everything towers above it — with more on its way! In fact, in the time since the “modern” picture was taken in early 2021, at least one new major skyscraper has popped up, essentially rendering the picture out-of-date.

Promotional photo for 20th Century-Fox featuring June Allyson on the yacht set.

While the gag of Allyson’s character getting constantly splashed by passing vessels was rather trite, it did at least give us additional footage of not only the buildings along the East River, but of the different types of boats that navigated the waters back then. This included the Philip Lemler tanker, seen in the last shot, which was built in 1947 for the Crystal Oil Corporation.

From left to right, the Alan Martin and the Philip Lemler (renamied Sam Berman) under tow in New Jersey. (Photo from NJ Scuba.)

In 1987, the Philip Lemle, along with other decommissioned tankers and Redbird subway cars, were sunk to help form an artificial reef in New Jersey’s Shark River — a spot now known by charter boat operators as, “The Parking Lot.”


Long Island Mansion

The group finally arrives at the Giffords’ palatial estate, which was really the Mill Neck Manor at 40 Frost Mill Road on Long Island.


As the cars arrive, the three couples proceed inside, where after a long deliberation, Ernest Gifford’ decides to elect Jerry Talbot as the new head of Gifford Motors.


When I first watched this movie a few years ago, I had no idea where this mansion was located. But when I revisited this scene about a year ago, I almost immediately recognized the large estate to be the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf after having researched the Long Island property for a couple other films.

The Mill Neck Manor has appeared in numerous films like Death Wish and Trading Places, and was regularly featured in the TV show, Homeland. One nice thing about this location is that all the proceeds from the filming fees goes directly to the School for the Deaf, so basically, any production that uses Mill Neck Manor is making a donation to the non-profit institute.

The main cast making a toast on the “Long Island” set at Twentieth Century-Fox.


When it comes to Woman’s World as a whole, I have mixed feelings about it. Granted, I can fully appreciate its beautiful color photography of New York City in the 1950s, but I find the movie to be redundant at times with somewhat weak performances from what would be considered a powerhouse cast. But I can’t really fault the actors too much — I would be more inclined to blame the director, Jean Negulesco.

Director Jean Negulesco consults with Lauren Bacall and Van Heflin on a soundstage at Twentieth Century-Fox.

While a capable supervisor, if you look at Negulesco’s resume, it’s made up of mostly forgettable studio films. However, he did direct a few notable hits such as Johnny Belinda (1948), Titanic (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and Three Coins in the Fountain (1954). The latter two titles were filmed in CinemaScope, which became Negulesco’s trademark in the 1950s and 60s. In fact, he eventually became known as Hollywood’s preeminent CinemaScope director.

The four male leads look at miniature production models for the fictional Gifford Motors which, according to the film’s epilogue, were based on designs at Ford.
One of many hotel room scenes from the film, this one with Van Heflin and Arlene Dahl.

But I think the biggest problem with Woman’s World is the screenplay, which has uninventive characters and a story that isn’t particularly engaging. It was one of many 1950s screenplays that dealt with the foibles of the executive world, such as The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit, Executive Suite, and Desk Set, but didn’t seem to have anything new to say about the subject.

June Allyson and Cornel Wilde as couple number one, representing “rural America,” where the wife is inexplicably inept at handling any social situation.
Arlene Dahl and Van Heflin as couple number two, representing a dichotomy in ambition, where the husband is quietly introspective and the wife is aggressively success-driven.
Fred MacMurray and Lauren Bacall as couple number three, who represent the “estranged marriage.”

Aside from a rather unoriginal story, almost none of the seven main characters were very believable, coming across as overwrought caricatures of post-war businessmen and housewives. June Allyson’s one-dimensional portrayal of the bumbling, socially-awkward Katie Baxter was especially tedious. There’s only so many times I can take her “comical” verbal or physical fumbles before it gets into sitcom territory. And Fred MacMurray as the alcoholic workaholic gives an especially wooden performance, sounding like he’s reading his lines off a cue card.

For me, only two of the leads give a somewhat compelling performance: Ernest Gifford as the inscrutable owner of Gifford Motors, playing him as both smarmy and profound, and Lauren Bacall as the frustrated wife of alcoholic Sidney Burns, who subtly expresses a middle-aged woman’s struggle with love and loyalty.

Also, as I’ve mentioned several times in this post, I found the rear projection effects in this film to be decidedly poor, even jarring. I know rear projection was common practice in Hollywood at the time, but for some reason, it bothered me more in this case, possibly because they paled in comparison to the magnificent-looking establishing shots sprinkled throughout.

In this example of the rear projection process, June Allyson and Lauren Bacall watch as Gene Tierney signs an autograph in a scene that ultimately got cut from the film. 

With all that being said, I don’t want to be too hard on the movie. I believe Woman’s World is still worth checking out, as it  has a certain antiquated charm about it. Plus, it’s thrilling to see a well-stacked (albeit flawed) ensemble cast in action.

But of course, the highlight of Woman’s World is the series of vibrant, panoramic visuals of old New York, skillfully captured by the ephemeral CinemaScope lens.