The Women (1939)
May 28, 2024 4:54 AM - Subscribe

"It’s all about men!" A happily married woman lets her catty friends talk her into divorce when her husband strays.
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs (11 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
All the things a movie needs: George Cukor, 100 women, a break in the middle for a technicolor fashion show, end of list
posted by bcwinters at 7:35 AM on May 28 [11 favorites]

There was a remake of this in 2008 that wasn't good, but in the leadup, if I remember correctly, there were stage readings of the original script, with impossibly stacked A-listers: Bullock, Roberts, Ryan, Bening. Something like that. I never bothered with the remake, but Iwould have enjoyed those actresses having fun with the orignal script.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:04 AM on May 28 [3 favorites]

This was a pre-code movie, and the subject matter—a bunch of women getting Reno divorces—kind of reinforces that fact.

As the IMDB trivia points out, all of the roles in this were played by women. The promotional material for it said "even the horse is a girl" (or words to that effect).
posted by adamrice at 10:37 AM on May 28 [2 favorites]

"I AM Dandy Gelatine!" is one of my favorite lines in this, and there are a lot to choose from.

Coincidentally enough, I just watched the remake this weekend out of curiosity. I love the original so much.

There's really just no reason for the remake to exist. They made Sylvia Fowler... sympathetic, I guess?, there's obviously no Reno sequence, it's just pointless. The friends and mother don't even have a coherent viewpoint about the divorce issue. At least the lesbian writer friend gets to have sex in this one (assumed), but ugh. Just skip it.

And for anybody curious, I have to also NOT recommend The Opposite Sex, which is the 1956 musical version of The Women. It's regressive and weird. Attempted rape scene and I'm not exaggerating about that. Other than that, there are some line readings that are exactly the same as in the original, like lip-sync level the same. I know it's hard to pass up Joan Collins, Ann Miller and Agnes Moorhead, but it's not worth it. OH! And this version has men in it - whyyy
posted by queensissy at 1:00 PM on May 28 [3 favorites]

Anyway, let's talk about the original!
posted by queensissy at 1:01 PM on May 28

Young and adolescent girls in this era, both onstage and onscreen, were invariably scripted as little Shirley Temples, over-the-top annoyingly twee. Virginia Weidler did her level best to surpass the horrible lines Little Mary gets, and sometimes she even manages to succeed.

There's definitely a lot of Madonna/whore in this one, and I could frankly live without the dimwitted and in-universe unattractive Countess being cast as a fat woman. But the major performances are genuinely good, and the farcical denouement works better than it has any right to.
posted by humbug at 2:40 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]

I know it wasn't meant to play that way and it probably didn't in the day, but THE COUNTESS RULES
posted by queensissy at 4:48 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]

So many wonderful moments in this film— it’s currently on Tubi.

Paulette Goddard especially stands out to me — there’s a modern quality to the glint in her eye. It took me a long time to warm up to Norma Shearer in this one— the first time I watched it I think her performance felt on a different level of theatricality than the others — but now I appreciate it more. Rosalind Russell— amazing. She has written about how George Cukor got her to lean into the comedy of it, shaping the future of her career. And Joan Crawford beautifully sneers her way through the role.

You can find the “Great Performances” telecast of the Broadway production on YouTube. Cynthia Nixon in the lead— Kristen Johnson in the Russell role, Jennifer Tilly in the Crawford role, Rue McLanahan as the Countess. But best of all is Jennifer Coolidge as Edith, puffing away on a cigarette while in her hospital bed, newborn in her arms.
posted by profreader at 7:45 AM on May 29 [6 favorites]

Virginia Weidler did her level best to surpass the horrible lines Little Mary gets, and sometimes she even manages to succeed.

If you're looking for a better example of Virginia Weidler's work, go see The Philadelphia Story - she is FANTASTIC in that.

And if you're looking for a better contemporary take on this, the Roundabout Theater staged the play in 2001 - starring Cynthia Nixon, Rue McClanahan, Kristen Johnston, Jennifer Tilly, Jennifer Coolidge, and Mary Louise Wilson, among others - and the Great Performances film is here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:46 AM on May 29 [4 favorites]

Not precode, which was enforced in 1934.The screenplay is available on the internet archive.
posted by brujita at 10:34 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]

« Older Movie: 71 Fragments of a Chron...   |  Encounter Party: Co-Signed to ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments