The Power and the Prize (1956)

98-99 mins | Melodrama | 12 October 1956

Director:

Henry Koster

Writer:

Robert Ardrey

Producer:

Nicholas Nayfack

Cinematographer:

George Folsey

Editor:

George Boemler

Production Designers:

William A. Horning, Hans Peters

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Although Elisabeth Mueller is listed second in the closing cast credits, she is listed after Nicola Michaels, in the middle of the opening cast credits. The Power and the Prize marked the American film debut of Mueller and was Michael's feature film debut. As noted in reviews, The Power and the Prize marked the first time the CinemaScope process was utilized for a black-and-white film. According to a 26 Jul 1954 DV news item, M-G-M purchased the rights to Howard Swiggett's novel that year. A 30 Nov 1954 HR news item adds that M-G-M signed William Roberts and Sonya Levien to write the screenplay based on the novel; however, onscreen credit for the screenplay is given to Robert Ardrey and the extent of Roberts’ and Levien's participation in the final film has not been determined.
       Helen Rose received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design (black-and-white) for the film, but lost to Jean Louis for The Solid Gold Cadillac . As noted in a 7 Jun 1956 HR new item, actors Mary Scott and Sir Cedric Hardwicke were married at the time of the production. ... More Less

Although Elisabeth Mueller is listed second in the closing cast credits, she is listed after Nicola Michaels, in the middle of the opening cast credits. The Power and the Prize marked the American film debut of Mueller and was Michael's feature film debut. As noted in reviews, The Power and the Prize marked the first time the CinemaScope process was utilized for a black-and-white film. According to a 26 Jul 1954 DV news item, M-G-M purchased the rights to Howard Swiggett's novel that year. A 30 Nov 1954 HR news item adds that M-G-M signed William Roberts and Sonya Levien to write the screenplay based on the novel; however, onscreen credit for the screenplay is given to Robert Ardrey and the extent of Roberts’ and Levien's participation in the final film has not been determined.
       Helen Rose received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design (black-and-white) for the film, but lost to Jean Louis for The Solid Gold Cadillac . As noted in a 7 Jun 1956 HR new item, actors Mary Scott and Sir Cedric Hardwicke were married at the time of the production.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
15 Sep 1956.
---
Cue
29 Sep 1956.
---
Daily Variety
26 Jul 1954.
---
Daily Variety
12 Sep 56
p. 3.
Film Daily
12 Sep 56
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Nov 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 1956
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
22 May 1956
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1956
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1956
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Sep 56
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
4 Oct 1956.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Oct 1956.
---
Motion Picture Daily
12 Sep 1956.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 Sep 56
p. 65.
New York Herald Tribune
27 Sep 1956.
---
New York Times
22 Jul 1956 .
---
New York Times
27 Sep 56
p. 42.
Newsweek
8 Oct 1956.
---
Variety
12 Sep 56
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Hair styles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Power and the Prize by Howard Swiggett (New York, 1954).
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 October 1956
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 26 September 1956
Los Angeles opening: 3 October 1956
Production Date:
late April--15 June 1956
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
30 August 1956
Copyright Number:
LP7205
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System; Perspecta Sound
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
98-99
Length(in feet):
8,799
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18000
SYNOPSIS

In New York, the aging George Salt, ruthless president of Amalgamated World Metals, has arranged for vice chairman Cliff Barton, his beloved protégé, to marry his niece and ward, Joan Salt. After George announces that Cliff will fly to London to finalize a deal with an English company on a West African mining project, Cliff reminds him of the upcoming Saturday wedding. George then lectures Cliff about the necessity of having a "public" wife who understands that the company comes first and orders him to postpone the nuptials. Joan learns about Cliff’s departure at dinner that night, but makes no protest in front of her bullying uncle. The next day, George explains to Cliff that instead of supplying the investment capital for the West African deal, he aspires to merge with the British company, force them to relinquish controlling stock and name Cliff as the chair. His plan is for Cliff to first confine discussions to Amalgamated’s ability to limit costs and raise profits, prompting the English company to accept when Amalgamated insists on taking over the operation on the last day of negotiations. Although Cliff believes the tactic is unethical, he defers to his boss. Once in London, Cliff meets the English company’s director, Mr. Carew, who immediately trusts Cliff's truthful nature despite his suspicions about Americans. In a phone conversation with George, Cliff expresses concern about the strategy, but George orders him to continue as planned. By Friday, Cliff has established Amalgamated’s concerns about cost and sets Monday to begin negotiations. Assigned by Mrs. Salt to investigate some of her London-based charities, he then visits an organization that finds work for artistically talented refugees from Central Europe. ... +


In New York, the aging George Salt, ruthless president of Amalgamated World Metals, has arranged for vice chairman Cliff Barton, his beloved protégé, to marry his niece and ward, Joan Salt. After George announces that Cliff will fly to London to finalize a deal with an English company on a West African mining project, Cliff reminds him of the upcoming Saturday wedding. George then lectures Cliff about the necessity of having a "public" wife who understands that the company comes first and orders him to postpone the nuptials. Joan learns about Cliff’s departure at dinner that night, but makes no protest in front of her bullying uncle. The next day, George explains to Cliff that instead of supplying the investment capital for the West African deal, he aspires to merge with the British company, force them to relinquish controlling stock and name Cliff as the chair. His plan is for Cliff to first confine discussions to Amalgamated’s ability to limit costs and raise profits, prompting the English company to accept when Amalgamated insists on taking over the operation on the last day of negotiations. Although Cliff believes the tactic is unethical, he defers to his boss. Once in London, Cliff meets the English company’s director, Mr. Carew, who immediately trusts Cliff's truthful nature despite his suspicions about Americans. In a phone conversation with George, Cliff expresses concern about the strategy, but George orders him to continue as planned. By Friday, Cliff has established Amalgamated’s concerns about cost and sets Monday to begin negotiations. Assigned by Mrs. Salt to investigate some of her London-based charities, he then visits an organization that finds work for artistically talented refugees from Central Europe. Having learned from one of Carew’s workers, Mr. Chutwell, that the organization is a prostitution ring frequented by executives, Cliff confronts director Miriam Linka, a pianist and concentration camp survivor, about the allegations. Miriam declares that she can find only manual labor jobs for her clients and, in desperation, some of the women turn to prostitution. When Cliff writes a $1,000 check toward the organization's “legitimate” work, Miriam caustically accuses him of trying to assuage his guilty conscience. The following day, when Cliff returns to her office, Miriam charges that Americans only donate money to receive tax write-offs rather than donating to prevent injustices against war victims, but finally gives in to Cliff’s dinner invitation. That night Miriam, demoralized by Chutwell's use of her girls as "entertainment," announces to Cliff that she has resigned her position and loudly declares that she must stand for the truth. Taken by her fearless integrity, Cliff asks for another date and ends the evening with a kiss. On Sunday, Cliff warns George that English pride will prevent Carew from accepting the deceptive deal, but George again orders him to continue. That night after Miriam suggests he find a less passionate woman, Cliff tells her he has found one in the kind, sweet Joan, but knows he would only be happy with Miriam. On Monday, as planned, Cliff announces to Carew that Amalgamated cannot justify the risky investment and must assume authority over the operation. Always the gentlemen, Carew reminds Cliff that "the proud sometimes seem foolish, but they die last" and refuses the offer. Also believing the Almagamated deal to be unwise, Cliff asks Carew to meet with him when the Englishman visits New York to consider other offers. That night after Cliff proposes to her, Miriam insists that her ideals prevent her from marrying a wealthy capitalist. Confident that she will change her mind, Cliff announces he will make arrangements for her to visit him. Upon Cliff’s return to New York, George laments that his protégé has failed him, but Cliff retorts that George’s greed for power ruined the deal. Seeking to secure an immediate visa for Miriam, Cliff visits his friend, Washington bureaucrat Howard Carruthers, who suggests the couple marry in Mexico and promises to arrange a visitor’s visa on the condition that Cliff secure a company letter stating he is unable to leave for London to marry his bride. Cliff returns to New York, and after informing a relieved Joan that he is breaking up with her, gives George the prepared letter for Carruthers. Infuriated, George reviles Cliff for wanting to marry a “stateless, nameless refugee,” but signs the letter. Days later, George holds a meeting with Carew, Mr. Pitt-Semphill, Chutwell and Amalgamated controlling stockholder Guy Elliot in which he blames Cliff for the deceitful proposal. Chutwell adds that Cliff’s new love is a prostitute and a Communist. Incensed that Cliff has not been invited to the meeting to defend himself, Carew discontinues negotiations. Hours later, George tells Cliff that his association with the disreputable Miriam ruined the deal and pressures Cliff to resign before the upcoming board meeting. Days later, after competitor Dan Slocum informs Carew that Amalgamated is firing Cliff because his mishandling of his deal, Carew asks Cliff to tell the board that his final decision rests on its treatment of Cliff. Later, Elliot informs Cliff that he is privy to George’s deception and asks if Cliff has investigated Miriam’s background, but Cliff assures him he is satisfied that Miriam is not a Communist. Meanwhile, Mrs. Salt warns the newly arrived Miriam that Cliff will be ruined if he does not resign the next day and advises that the couple should leave town, lamenting that her own marriage has grown cold because of the pressures of public life. Perceiving a ruse, Miriam suggests that Mrs. Salt is revealing heartfelt revelations to a stranger because she fears for her husband, not Cliff. When Cliff finally tells Miriam he has resigned, insisting that they return to London, she refuses to run from the problem and encourages him to fight. Cliff is thus prompted to tear up his resignation in front of George and Elliot and assert that George’s need for absolute power will cause the company to fold. Elliot then informs them both that his investigation of Miriam concludes that she is an honorable and brave woman who has refused both Russian and American attempts to force her into being a spy. Following Elliot’s suggestion, George resigns and names Cliff as his predecessor at the board meeting. As he leaves the building, George prophesizes to Cliff that the young leader will also one day be forced to step down when a fresh face changes the business. Later, Carew and Chutwell see the enamored Miriam and Cliff off on their chartered plane to Mexico, as airport grounds men load her new Steinway onboard. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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