One year, one film: 1939 – The Women

The film:
The Women, dir. George Cukor
starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, etc.

Rating:
Recommended | Highly Recommended | MUST-SEE

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Image via Wikimedia Commons)

The poster may scream “It’s all about men!,” and in a way, it is… but more than anything, The Women is a stellar showcase of some of old Hollywood’s most talented ladies. Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, Lucile Watson, Marjorie Main, and many others share the screen. The resulting film, based on the play by Clare Boothe Luce, is one of my favorite comedies ever made.

Shearer is Mary Haines, a wife and mother who has no clue that her husband is cheating on her with shopgirl Crystal Allen (portrayed by Crawford). She’ll soon find out Mr. Haines’ secret when it’s revealed by the manicurist of her most gossipy friend, Sylvia (portrayed by Russell). High society Manhattan is turned on its head by the drama that follows.

Catty wit, Reno divorces and a technicolor fashion show… The Women has it all. The performances are fantastic, building off of an already-great and very quotable script. (“I’ve had two years to grow claws, mother. Jungle Red!”)

I know that The Women is well-loved by today’s classic film buffs, but did the critics and audiences of yesteryear fall under the spell of star power and script? It certainly seems so, if fan and industry mags are any indication.

Film Bulletin preferred the stage version due to changes made by the Hollywood censors, but still praised the film’s performances, particularly that of Roz Russell, who is called “the sensation of the film” and “brings gales of laughter.”

Photoplay named The Women one of its “Best Pictures of the Month” alongside such titles as Golden Boy and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. They also listed Crawford, Shearer, and Russell as three of the “Best Performances of the Month” for their work in this wonderful film.

One of the best of its release month according to Photoplay and one of the best of all time according to me, The Women is a definite must-see.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “One year, one film: 1939 – The Women

  1. Todd Benefiel says:

    I’d always thought this was a straight drama…never knew it was a comedy. If I end up getting Netflix, I’ll definitely check it out! And a man who cheats on Norma Shearer for Joan Crawford? What is he, nuts?

    Like

    • Lindsey says:

      I’m not sure this is available for streaming but Netflix DVD probably has it. I own it on DVD – bought it ASAP after seeing it for the first time, haha.

      Like

  2. Summer Reeves says:

    I love this film, but Clare Boothe Luce’s original script is the best version out there, I use it for my acting classes (because I always have way more female students than male) the dressing room scene is hysterical!

    Like

Comments are closed.