Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Women

1939 American Feature

Cast: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland, Paulette Goddard, Phyllis Povah, Joan Fontaine, Virginia Weidler, Lucile Watson and Marjorie Main
Director: George Cukor
Writers: Anita Loos, Jane Murfin and (uncredited) F. Scott Fitzgerald, based on the play by Clare Boothe Luce

The pampered lives, power struggles and romantic entanglements of various wealthy Manhattan socialites, and the gossip that propels their lives and wreaks havoc on their relationships.


  • Internet Movie Database: 7.7/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes - Critics: 90% / Audience: 89%
  • OMG rating: 8/10

  • DVD/Blu-ray: Available
  • Book: Available


  • Clare Boothe Luce's The Women had its Broadway debut in 1936. The original cast included Phyllis Povah, Marjorie Main, Mary Cecil and Marjorie Wood, who recreated their roles for the film version. It has been revived on Broadway twice, first in 1973 (starring Kim Hunter, Dorothy Loudon and Myrna Loy) and again in 2001 (starring Jennifer Coolidge, Kristen Johnston, Heather Matarazzo, Rue McClanahan, Cynthia Nixon and Jennifer Tilly, with costumes by Isaac Mizrahi). The latter revival was filmed for the PBS series Stage on Screen, which first aired it in 2002.
  • The film continued the play's all-female tradition; the cast of more than 130 speaking roles was entirely female. Throughout the entire film, not a single male is seen, although the males are much talked about, and the central theme is the women's relationships with them. The attention to detail was such that even in props such as portraits only female figures are represented, and several animals which appeared were also female.
  • Potential Director: Gregory La Cava.
  • Casting Call: Claudette Colbert, Dorothy Lamour, Carole Lombard and Myrna Loy.
  • Filmed in black and white, the movie includes a ten-minute fashion parade filmed in Technicolor, featuring costumer Adrian's most outrĂ© designs. Often cut in modern screenings, it has been restored by Turner Classic Movies. The original black and white fashion show, which is a different take, was made available for the first time on the film's DVD release.
  • Lesbianism is intimated in the portrayal of only one character, Nancy Blake, played by Florence Nash.
  • Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper has a bit part as gossip columnist Dolly Dupuyster.
  • Film debut of actress Butterfly McQueen, who memorably played Prissy in Gone With the Wind, released later in 1939.
  • With its glamorous cast, lavish costumes and enduringly quotable dialogue, The Women has remained especially popular with gay male audiences.
  • In 1955, the NBC anthology drama series Producers' Showcase broadcast an adaptation of the play. Three actresses from the 1939 film, Mary Boland, Paulette Goddard and Ruth Hussey, also appeared in this production, which also starred Mary Astor, Nancy Olson and Shelly Winters.
  • In 1956, The Women was made into a musical film titled The Opposite Sex, starring June Allyson, Joan Collins, Dolores Gray, Ann Sheridan, Ann Miller, Agnes Moorehead, Joan Blondell and (ditching the all-female cast concept of previous incarnations) Leslie Nielsen.
  • A 1977 German television production of the play, titled Frauen in New York (Women in New York), was directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  • In 2007, The Women was inducted into the National Film Registry.
  • Diane English directed and co-wrote a long-in-development contemporary remake of the film, also titled The Women. The ill-received 2008 release starred Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith (whose character was a lesbian), Candice Bergen, Cloris Leachman, Bette Midler and Carrie Fisher.

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