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Executive Suite (1954)

Passed | | Drama | 30 April 1954 (USA)
When the head of a large manufacturing firm dies suddenly from a stroke, his vice presidents vie to see who will replace him.


Robert Wise


Ernest Lehman (screen play), Cameron Hawley (based on the novel by)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
William Holden ... McDonald Walling
June Allyson ... Mary Blemond Walling
Barbara Stanwyck ... Julia O. Tredway
Fredric March ... Loren Phineas Shaw
Walter Pidgeon ... Frederick Y. Alderson
Shelley Winters ... Eva Bardeman
Paul Douglas ... Josiah Walter Dudley
Louis Calhern ... George Nyle Caswell
Dean Jagger ... Jesse Q. Grimm
Nina Foch ... Erica Martin
Tim Considine ... Mike Walling
William Phipps ... Bill Lundeen
Lucy Knoch ... Mrs. George Nyle Caswell (as Lucille Knoch)
Edgar Stehli Edgar Stehli ... Julius Steigel
Mary Adams ... Sara Asenath Grimm


Avery Bullard, President of the Tredway Corporation has died. But he never named a clear successor, so the Board members must choose a replacement. The most likely is Loren Shaw, a skilled businessman, but some of the others don't like his calculating ways. But to stop him, they'll have to find someone else they can back. Will it be the engineer Don Walling? That will take convincing, they don't trust his youth and idealism. And he isn't even sure he wants the job, he might be happier creating rather than politicking. Written by Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The schemer trapped! See more »




Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

30 April 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cuando llama el deseo See more »


Box Office


$1,383,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The source material for this film came from the eponymous novel by Cameron Hawley. Hawley based the book, in part, on his own experiences working for the Armstrong Cork Company in Pennsylvania. See more »


As noted, before the vote Erica had set out only six sets of pads, plus one pencil each, for the seven directors. When he enters the room Shaw moves a seat to one end of the table, where no pad and pencil had been set. When the first vote comes, Dudley tears off a piece of paper from his pad and hands it and his pencil to Shaw. Shaw writes his vote down, then hands the pencil Dudley had given him to Miss Tredway. She uses that pencil but never returns it. Nevertheless, when the camera cuts immediately back to Dudley he's seen picking up the very pencil he had clearly just given away. See more »


[first lines]
[pre-opening-credits sequence; views of skyscrapers]
Narrator: It is always up there, close to the clouds, on the topmost floors of the sky-reaching towers of big business. And because it is high in the sky, you may think that those who work there are somehow above and beyond the tensions and temptations of the lower floors. This is to say that it isn't so.
See more »


Remade as Executive Suite (1976) See more »


Singin' in the Rain
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics by Arthur Freed
Hummed by Tim Considine
See more »

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User Reviews

Struggle for Power in a Corporation
5 February 2016 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

In a Friday afternoon in Wall Street, the president of the Tredway Corporation Avery Bullard has just had a meeting with investment bankers and sends a telegram scheduling a meeting at the furniture factory in Millburgh, Pennsylvania, at six PM with his executives. Bullard has never appointed an executive vice-president for the corporation after the death of the previous one but when he is getting a taxi, he has a stroke and dies on the street. A thief steals his wallet to get his money and his body goes to the morgue without identification. The investment banker George Nyle Caswell (Louis Calhern) sees Bullard's body from his window and decides to use the information to make money, asking a broker to sell as much Tredway stocks as possible until the end of the day, with the intention of buying them back Monday morning by a lower price making profit. Meanwhile the executives unsuccessfully wait for Bullard in the meeting room. When they learn that Bullard is dead, the ambitions accountant VP and Controller Loren Phineas Shaw (Fredric March) releases to the press the balance of Tredway showing profit and assumes temporarily the leadership of the company, expecting to be elected the next president by the seven-member board. However, the VP for Design and Development McDonald "Don" Walling (William Holden) and the VP and Treasurer Frederick Y. Alderson (Walter Pidgeon) oppose to Shaw. There is a struggle in the corporation for the position of president and Shaw blackmails the VP for Sales Josiah Walter Dudley (Paul Douglas) that is married and has a mistress, his secretary Eva Bardeman (Shelley Winters), to get his vote. Caswell needs to cover the 3,700 stocks he sold and Shaw promises to give to him the stocks for the price he sold if he is elected president. The VP for Manufacturing Jesse Q. Grimm (Dean Jagger) is near to retire but is a close friend of Frederick and supports him. Therefore the heir of Tredway and Bullard's mistress Julia O. Tredway (Barbara Stanwyck) will be responsible to give the casting vote. But she is disenchanted with the corporation. Who will be elected the next president?

"Executive Suite" is a realistic film about struggle for power in a corporation. Serious films about the Machiavellian competition in a company, such as "Glengarry Glen Ross", "Le couperet" or "El método", are usually engaging and "Executive Suite" is surprisingly great since it is not dated. The film is directed by Robert Wise, who is one of the best directors in Hollywood ever. The cast is top-notch and Fredric March has one of his best performances. The final speech of Don is a lesson for classes of motivation. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Um Homem e Dez Destinos" ("A Man and Ten Destinies")

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