2005_06_artsbookjaffee.jpgThis friend of ours works in book publishing. When she assumed the title “editorial assistant” and the attached responsibilities and privileges (which, believe us, she has fulfilled and enjoyed for longer than she’d like to admit), she told her boss the senior editor, “I don’t really understand how you advance in publishing.” “Neither do I,” he said, “but if you want to get an idea, watch The Best of Everything.” Like so much of his wise advice, this went ignored, until months later when a night of restless channel surfing yielded up the movie itself: a scandalous tale of three young women, all typists at a Major Publishing House, chasing love and success in an age when lunch was liquid and ladies worked only until someone bought them a diamond ring and a cottage in Connecticut. Not what you’d want to be offered as a career primer, though the means by which the one ambitious female character claws her way out of the typing pool are not entirely unfamiliar. The clothes are amazing, Robert Evans’s supporting performance should not be missed, and it has that great postwar-Manhattan look.

Happily, a DVD was just released, and the book on which the movie was based was just republished. Now we intend to find out whether Rona Jaffee’s novel measures up to the movie. People better versed in midcentury potboilers than we assure us that a new generation of ambitious young New Yorkers will be riveted and amused. As for our friend the editorial assistant, she might still be dealing with her boss's correspondence, but at least in 2005 she can walk to the water fountain without being pinched on the bottom.