Although generally acclaimed upon its first release -- the New York Film Critics nominated it for best picture, director and screenplay -- Career has lost a lot of punch over the intervening years. Much of the problem is that the film focuses on a milieu -- the backstage world of the theatre - that is overly familiar to many audiences. The screenplay does provide an interesting twist; whereas most films of this stripe allow the protagonist to "make it" halfway through the film, Career's Sam Lawson struggles from beginning to end. The film also gingerly comes out against the McCarthyite blacklist, but this seems more grafted on than truly sincere. Otherwise, there's little that's fresh to the screenplay, although many of the scenes are dramatically effective, even if trite, and there is some potent dialogue handed out along the way. Among the cast, Anthony Franciosa gives what is arguably the finest and most powerful performance of his career, and Carolyn Jones is touching and affecting. Shirley MacLaine takes advantage of the showier part of the alcoholic love interest, and Dean Martin turns in one of his better, more committed performances. Career also benefits from an accomplished team of designers, especially Joseph La Shelle, whose careful lensing provides atmosphere and tension to the story. MacLaine and Martin had worked together before (Some Came Running)and would again in several more films, including Oceans Eleven.
by Craig Butler review