Gregory Peck stars as a doting husband and father who gives up his smalltime job and enters the more promising world of advertising. With added tension at work and increasing problems at home with his wife (Jennifer Jones), the rising young executive must decide, as his boss (Frederic March) did, what is the most important thing in life - family or success!
Based on the novel by Sloan Wilson, director and screenwriter Nunnally Johnson's (THE THREE FACES OF EVE) multilayered drama stars Gregory Peck as a man struggling to realize the American Dream without sacrificing his family and his soul. Tom Rath seems a typical, solid business- and family man, but he suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder. Inconsequential sights--such as the fur collar on a fellow commuter's coat--prompt flashbacks to his days as a captain in WWII. Rath is also beset by demands from his ambitious wife, Betsey (Jennifer Jones), who hates their ugly house and is ashamed of how Tom has lost his nerve since the war. To appease her, he takes a higher-paying PR job at media conglomerate United Broadcasting. Rath then has to learn the spin-doctor ways of Madison Avenue and risks becoming a yes man to powerful UBC president Ralph Hopkins (Fredric March). Meanwhile, problems at home escalate with a dispute over his grandmother's will and a haunting reminder of his wartime liaison with a beautiful Italian girl, Maria (Marisa Pavan). Peck gives a strong, touching performance as a man fighting to overcome his past and to secure his family's future.
A decorated veteran, now a mild executive on the battlefield of Madison Avenue, struggles with success at the expense of his family life, a hysterical wife, and memories of a sweeter, simpler life in wartime Italy.
Big Business |
Family Interaction |
Unlike his character, Gregory Peck (Tom Rath) was unable to serve in WWII, because of a spinal injury sustained in a college rowing match.
Peck starred in Johnson's directorial debut, the cold war espionage thriller NIGHT PEOPLE.
Deforest Kelley, best known as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy in television and film's STAR TREK series, has a fitting role in the film as a medic.
Though Tom Rath refers to himself as part of the Madison Avenue rat race, the building used as the exterior for United Broadcasting Corporation is actually located in New York's Rockefeller Center.
The film's score may sound familiar to avid fans of Alfred Hitchcock--composer Bernard Herrmann was renowned for creating the scores to VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, and PYSCHO, among others.