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The Women (1939)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | 1 September 1939 (USA)
A study of the lives and romantic entanglements of various interconnected women.

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(from the play by) (as Clare Boothe), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Phyllis Povah ...
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Pat
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Muriel Hutchison ...
Jane
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Florence Nash ...
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Storyline

Wealthy Mary Haines is unaware her husband is having an affair with shopgirl Crystal Allen. Sylvia Fowler and Edith Potter discover this from a manicurist and arrange for Mary to hear the gossip. On the train taking her to a Reno divorce Mary meets the Countess and Miriam (in an affair with Fowler's husband). While they are at Lucy's dude ranch, Fowler arrives for her own divorce and the Countess meets fifth husband-to-be Buck. Back in New York, Mary's ex is now unhappily married to Crystal who is already in an affair with Buck. When Sylvia lets this story slip at an exclusive nightclub, Crystal brags of her plans for a still wealthier marriage, only to find the Countess is the source of all Buck's money. Crystal must return to the perfume counter and Mary runs back to her husband. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's all about men! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

1 September 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mujeres  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,688,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

| (Technicolor) (one sequence)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

There are over 130 roles in this movie, all played by women. Phyllis Povah, Marjorie Main, Mary Cecil and Marjorie Wood originated their roles in the play, which opened on 7 September 1937 and had 666 performances at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York. No doubles were used in the fight sequence where Rosalind Russell bites Paulette Goddard. Despite the permanent scar resulting from the bite, the actresses remained friends. See more »

Goofs

When Mary is reading in bed, the early long shots show the lamp on the left side of the bed to be a male figurine, and the one on the right to be a female. In the close-ups, the lamp on the left of the bed has changed and is female. See more »

Quotes

Sylvia Fowler: Well, heaven be praised, I'm on to my husband, I wouldn't trust him on Alcatraz, the mouse.
Peggy Day: Sylvia, you oughtn't talk about him like that! Why, I think it's disloyal!
Sylvia Fowler: Oh now, listen Peggy, do we know how the men talk about us when we're not around?
Nancy Blake: I've heard rumours.
Sylvia Fowler: Exactly... And uh... While we're on the subject, have either of you wondered whether the master of this maison might not be straying?
Nancy Blake: I haven't.
Sylvia Fowler: Well, for all you know Mary Haines may be living in a fool's paradise.
Nancy Blake: You're so ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, before the photo images of the actresses are shown, their characters are revealed by images of various animals. See more »

Connections

Version of The Opposite Sex (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

I Cried for You
(1923) (uncredited)
Written by Gus Arnheim, Abe Lyman and Arthur Freed
One line sung a cappella by Norma Shearer
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
One of my all-time favorites
6 February 1999 | by (Houston, Texas) – See all my reviews

The fact that Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford would consent to appear in a movie together is amazing. Shearer in 1939 was the queen of MGM, being the widow of Irving Thalberg, and had her choice of material and co-stars. Crawford, although a power in her own right, didn't have Shearer's pull and complained bitterly about it. Crawford agreed to take the somewhat supporting, albeit juicy, role because she needed an A picture after a string of flops. So she had to suck it up to work with Shearer.

The two stars had only one scene alone together, and there were no reported problems, except one. Director George Cukor sent Crawford home early when she caused a distraction by loudly clicking her knitting needles off camera as Shearer tried to do her close-ups.

Crawford was proved right in taking the movie, it's one of her most memorable and, finally for once, villainous roles. As Crystal Allen, the scheming shopgirl out to sleep her way to a Park Avenue penthouse, she was ideally cast. It was her life.

Rosalind Russell, previously not known as a comedienne, surprised everyone with her rapid-fire sarcastic delivery. She would continue to perfect the biting style for 20 years until she reached the pinnacle with Auntie Mame. Roz gives the strongest performance of the film as the viciously catty Sylvia Fowler, and I don't think Shearer or Crawford knew what hit them.

As for the long-suffering, hair-clutching, heavy-sighing Norma Shearer, even she was able to make the difficult role of saintly Mary Haines memorable. One of her best moments is when she raises her nails and growls "I've had two years to grow claws, Mother, and they're Jungle Red!," and then goes to take her man back from Crawford. Unfortunately, Shearer has a few Silent Screen moments that look out of place, such as collapsing and weeping at her mother's knee. But she makes the character warm and likable and we root for her to win.

There are many gems in the supporting cast. Most spectacular is Mary Boland as the heavy-drinking, high-living Countess De Lave. "L'amour L'amour" she wails as she's about to divorce her fourth studly husband -- for trying to kill her.

Paulette Goddard, the most beautiful member of the cast, is the best I've seen her, as the streetwise Miriam Aarons. Like Crawford, she plays a role she understands, the chorus girl who snags a millionaire. But unlike Crystal, Miriam has a heart -- and Goddard is great at doling out straight-shooting advice and rolling out put-downs under her breath.

Marjorie Main gives a preview of the persona she would later use as Ma Kettle. It was the first time she was able to step out and create the character, and she used it the rest of her career. I never tired of her raucous horse laugh.

I hope Hollywood has the good sense not to attempt a remake with an update of this classic. Time would not be kind. It is a priceless diamond in a golden setting.


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