(1956 b 99')
Adapted from the play by George S. Kaufman and Howard Teichmann, an actress with ten shares speaks up at a stockholders meeting and is hired by the new, incompetent executive while she and the previous, honest executive fall in love.
In New York City in the building of International Products small stockholder Laura Partridge (Judy Holiday) attends the annual stockholders meeting. The new president and chairman John T. Blessington (John Williams) announces that the founder and former president Edward L. McKeever (Paul Douglas) is leaving to work for the Department of Defense, and he gives him a gold key to all the doors in their building. The treasurer Clifford Snell (Fred Clark) reviews highlights from the financial report. Laura Partridge asks why the salary of the chairman will be $175,000 next year. Snell explains it is not a large salary. She asks what the chairman does. Blessington says he presides over the board. She asks how often, and he says four times a year, plus the annual stockholders meeting. She estimates that at ten hours work and still thinks he is overpaid. Snell asks if she is a stockholder, and she says she owns ten shares. She asks about Snell earning $100,000. She moves that the salaries are too big and seconds it. Snell says she cannot second her own motion. McKeever says he sold all his stock so that he would not have any favoritism affecting his work in Washington. He moves for a vote of confidence. She says he is out of order because he is no longer a stockholder. He says International Products will always mean much to him. She asks why he has not been paying attention but eating a sandwich. Snell rules her out of order. She says directors should not make so much money. Blessington adjourns the meeting. McKeever says goodbye, and the directors are glad he is gone.
McKeever goes to the soda fountain, and Laura talks with him. He asks for bicarbonate of soda. She assumes he is making a lot working for the government, and he says he is working for a dollar a year. He pays her bill and asks if she owns any other stock. They walk in the street, and she says she learned they overcharge for their refrigerators. He agrees to take her in his limousine to her house on his way to the airport. McKeever gives instructions to Williams. Laura says she inherited her stock. She hears him mention Transcontinental Corp., and she says she did an advertisement for them on television. She is an actress but is working at Bloomingdale’s now. He asks about small theater groups, and she says she did Shakespeare; but it was tiring because only kings got to sit down. She thanks him for the ride, and they wish each other good luck. Her landlady asks her if she was at a funeral.
Laura continues to attend meetings and is often called out of order. At a meeting Snell says she called them crooks for accepting bonuses. Blessington says their problem will be solved soon. Laura comes to the meeting, and Snell says he sent for her. He plans to hire her until the quarterly meeting is over. She comes in and sees the new director, Harry Harkness. She asks his qualifications, and he says he is Blessington’s brother-in-law. Blessington tells her she has been showing intelligent interest in the company, and he asks her if she would like to work there. She asks what she would do. He says she would be in charge of getting good will from other stockholders. She says she cannot type well, and he says she will have a secretary. She asks her salary. Snell proposes $75 a week, but Blessington suggests $100. She asks for $125, and Snell agrees. They welcome her and say goodbye.
Snell tells her secretary, Amelia Shotgraven (Neva Patterson), that Laura is to do little or nothing, and she is to report anything unusual Laura does to him. Laura comes in and brings out her own coffee-maker and a cup. She asks what she is to do. Blessington says they have made her director of stockholder relations. She is to make them friends of the company. She will answer their letters. They go out, and she learns how to use her dictaphone. Office manager Mark Jenkins (Arthur O’Connell) comes in and gives her cards, some forms, and the key to the washroom. Jenkins says that Amelia is most efficient. Laura notices that Amelia likes him. Laura asks for the letters from the stockholders. Amelia says there are none yet. Laura suggests Amelia change her hairstyle. Laura says that if Jenkins knew Amelia liked him, he would fall apart. Laura dictates a letter to Jimmy, her milkman.
Blessington takes a call from McKeever, who calls Harry an idiot. Snell asks him why they have not got any government contracts lately, and McKeever hangs up. They go to lunch.
Laura tries to think of something to do. She dictates a letter to her mother and has a new plan. Amelia comes in with a new hairdo and says Jenkins asked her to lunch. Laura asks for the names of the stockholders. She picks Mrs. Woodberry from Texas and dictates a letter to her. Laura dictates many letters to make friends with the stockholders.
In his office Blessington admires a model in a swimsuit and calls it good advertising for a steam-shovel. Another model comes in, and Blessington interrupts Harry. Snell comes in and says McKeever is in town. He says they need government contracts. Snell asks what they will do about Laura; she cost them $300 in postage last week. She is writing letters to stockholders. Snell is afraid of their suggestions. Blessington asks where she got the stockholders list, and Snell calls in Amelia. Harry tells Blessington that his ideas on competition impressed him. Harry says he forced Apex Clock into bankruptcy. Blessington tells him not to say anything about it because Apex is one of their own companies.
Jenkins tells Amelia she is coming to dinner to meet his mother. McKeever comes in. Laura is glad to see him and shows him her name on the door. She asks him to sit down, and he asks what she does. She explains, and he asks who hired her. She gives him some coffee and says why they offered her a job. She reads a letter to him, and she asks his advice. He suggests the person buy more stock. Laura shows him what she wrote.
Snell tells Blessington that he took care of Amelia. In her office Laura gives McKeever a smoked salmon and peanut sandwich. She shows him his picture on Newsweek framed. He says he spends most of his time answering questions of senators and that makes him too busy. Laura says he is a nice man and nice looking. Laura says his picture could be an actor. He admits he liked acting in school. He remembers reciting Barnabus the gladiator. She agrees to listen to it, and he declaims the poem with hand gestures. Women listening at the door giggle. He bows and asks what she thinks. She was not impressed and says he is McKeever. He says he wants to kiss her and apologizes. She says she is on her lunch hour. He goes out to see the boys. Laura asks Amelia if McKeever is married. She says no and starts crying, saying she is in trouble. Laura learns it is Snell and asks if he knows her condition. Amelia is offended and says Snell fired her. Amelia tells Laura that she was told to spy on her and that they hired her to keep her out of stockholders meetings. Laura dictates a memo to Snell that she is resigning because she does not want to work with mean and unethical people like him. Amelia tells her not to resign.
McKeever tells the executives that he will not do it. A model comes in and asks Blessington when are they going to lunch. McKeever leaves.
Laura has packed her things and finds an urgent letter to her. She reads it to Amelia. A man lost his job because Apex Clock went bankrupt. The writer asks why their company did that. Laura tells Amelia to break open Snell’s box and get her letter of resignation back. Laura calls Snell and leaves him a message she wants to see him about firing her secretary.
In the meeting Laura tells the executives that Amelia gets her job back and a raise, and they all nod their heads.
Laura dictates a letter to Amelia. Snell complains that Laura has a bigger office than he. Snell says Blessington has to do something about Harry or about Laura. They discuss what to do with her. Snell fixes a drink, and Blessington complains his expenses are high. Blessington suggests they send Laura to McKeever to persuade him to get them contracts to help the small stockholders. The others agree, and they could also send her on a good will tour of their branches. Blessington talks to Laura on the phone about her going on a mission like Clare Booth Luce.
Laura flies to Washington. McKeever answers the phone and handles business. He asks about Laura’s call and says he would like to see her. Senator Simpkins comes in with Laura and then leaves. McKeever asks Laura to sit down and admits he is surprised to see her. He says at their last meeting he departed abruptly. She says he is scared of girls. He asks her to state her business. Quickly he realizes that the board sent her there to get contracts. He asks the name of her new perfume, and she says it is Temptation. He asks her not to tamper with his ethics. She holds his head, kisses him, and says she tampered with his ethics. She says she does not want any business. She says the board sent her to get her out of the office. She wants him to take over the company again. He takes a call from a senator. McKeever says their contracts came in. She says he could leave there then. She asks him to take her to the Senate. They sit in the gallery, and she tries to ask a question. He says no and takes her out.
McKeever and Laura are dancing, and she says she has to catch a plane. He suggests she stay in his hotel, and she is glad. She likes the room he got for her and sees a black nightgown he bought for her. He says the President appointed him to his job, and it is an honor. She says he is blown up with his own importance and that he wants to bask in his glory. She asks if she will give the company contracts, and she tells him not to do so. She tells him about Apex Clocks and sits down to explain it to him.
McKeever wakes up at 2:20, puts on a robe, goes out, and knocks on her door. She turns on a light, grabs a blanket, and lets him in. She asks what it is. He says he is going back to the company. She says it is the smartest thing he ever did. He thanks her for coming to Washington and kisses her. He leaves.
McKeever tells Laura not to tell anyone as they go down the elevator. They avoid reporters by going out through the kitchen.
Blessington and Snell hear news that McKeever resigned, and they see a film of him running out with Laura. He answers questions of reporters, saying he could serve his country better by going back to his old company. Louella Parsons on television tells about the mystery woman who left Washington with McKeever. Harry comes in, and Snell tells him to read the front page. Harry says that Snell has the votes. Snell realizes that McKeever has no stock. He tells Blessington not to waver. McKeever comes in and says he is back. Harry asks him if he wants to bet.
Amelia tells Laura about her calls, and McKeever comes in and says he is frozen out of his own company. She asks about Apex Clock, and he says that Snell cooked the books to make the Apex Clock deal look good. She asks if he can do anything, and he asks what. She starts packing, and he says he is sorry because he knows she loves the company. Amelia comes in and says she is fired again. Amelia asks why this is happening. Laura says the directors sent her to Washington to see McKeever, who realizes that they broke a federal law.
Newspapers report that the executives were accused of unregistered lobbying. In court Laura testifies. An attorney calls her evasive, but she disagrees. He says they did not know she went to Washington, and he asks if she thinks they would falsify facts. She says yes. The attorney asks if she went to see her lover; but she says they sent her to get government orders. The attorney presents statements of those who saw him go to her room at night and that he bought her a nightgown. He asks if she is in love with McKeever. She asks the judge what she would get for perjury. She answers yes. The attorney says the annual stockholders meeting is that afternoon, and he asks for a decision.
The executives leave the courtroom, and Snell says the case was thrown out of court. In the car Laura suggests that she and McKeever go to her place to avoid reporters. In the car he asks her if she meant it. She says yes, and he asks her to marry him. She says he does not know how he feels while he is so upset. He says he loves her and knows how he feels.
They enter her apartment, and she tries to straighten up. She offers him lunch, and he says he is tired. He looks at his gold key, a symbol that he can always return. He tells her to marry him, but she says he is out of work. She says a man needs a job and a happy home. He says he could start a new company. She says he should not let them take his company away from him. She suggests he go to the stockholders meeting and fight. He says that is an idiotic suggestion, and she says already he is impossible to live with. She apologizes, and he tells her to forget it. She shows him the letters from the stockholders and says they are her friends. She reads some, and they give her their proxies. She answers the phone, and Amelia tells her that Snell fired Jenkins because of her mail. McKeever asks Jenkins what happened. McKeever tells him to meet him at the office in twenty minutes. He tells her to bring the letters.
They go to the office and find several large bags of letters. McKeever says they have to open the letters, and he tells Laura to keep the meeting going until they get there.
At the meeting Snell makes his financial report, but stockholders do not laugh at his jokes. A secretary tells him something, and he hurries through his report. Laura comes in and says she has a question. Blessington calls her out of order, and the stockholders realize who she is and stand up to greet her. In an office Amelia, McKeever, and Jenkins tally the proxies sent to Laura. Blessington calls for a vote to re-elect the directors. Snell says they have 1,600,000 shares, and Laura asks for a count. The stockholders write down their votes. Their number of shares are announced, and they all oppose. Snell says their total is 14,165 shares. Laura demands a recount. McKeever comes in with a cart of letters and says that Laura has 3,650,000 proxy shares. He says she is in control of the entire company. She makes a motion to fire them all.
At the next stockholders meeting Laura is vice president, secretary, and treasurer, and she sits with McKeever, Amelia, and Jenkins. McKeever and Laura go outside and get into her solid gold Cadillac, a gift from the stockholders.
This farce satirizes the greed and arrogance of business executives who pay themselves large salaries and do little work. A woman exercises her democratic rights and builds a movement within the corporation that brings reform and a revolution. An executive who works for the Defense Department also does little work because he is often distracted by politicians.