Clare Booth Luce is reported to have heard some gossip-loaded talk at a powderroom in a nightclub and got the inspiration to write a play, which became a Broadway-hit: The Women.
In 1939 it was adapted to screen. George Cukor was director and Anita Loos wrote together with Jane Murfin the screenplay.In a nutshell:
Mary Haines (Norma Shearer) considers her life as perfect. She is happily married and has a daughter, who she loves a lot. Then - with a little help from her friends, esp. her cousin Sylvia (Rosalind Russell) - she finds out, that her husband Stephen has an affair with Chrystal Allen (Joan Crawford) - a femme fatale selling perfume. Eventually Mary goes to Reno, gets a divorce and new friends.
Two years go by and Chrystal Allen is now good friends with Sylvia and married to Stephen Haines, whom she betrays with a singin' cowboy. Mary figures that out and finally gets her man back.
Watch out for:
Butterfly McQueen (her film debut!), Virginia Grey, Ruth Hussey, Hedda Hopper, Hattie McDaniel and Dorothy Sebastian in bit parts.
Margaret Dumont played a Mrs. Wagstaff (probably the wife of Prof. Quincy Adams Wagstaff of "Horsefeathers" - a Dumont-free Marx Bros. movie?? Wouldn't that be great?!) but her scene were deleted.
In the fightscene Rosalind Russell bites Paulette Goddard (Mrs. Charles Chaplin at that time). Miss Goddard maintained a scar from that bite. Anyway they remained friends.
Allegedly there are (in addition to an all female cast) only female animals in this movie. Even art, books etc. are penned by women.
Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer and Rosalind Russell are rumoured to have a quarrel till George Cukor stepped in.
Joan Fontaine is the only cast member who is still alive.
My favourite feature:
"Sydneys" - the beauty parlour! It is just marvellous! I love the opening scene when these women are chatting and running through that awesome setting. "Sydneys" was named after Sydney Guilaroff - MGMs chief hairstylist.
I'd like to get that perfume flakon for "Summer Rain"!! Or some of the dresses from the Adrian fashion show (the only part in this film in Technicolor.)
This film is one of my alltime favourite - it would be among my top ten. I love the opening credits when all the bigger parts are presented with a picture of an animal and a portrait of the actrice. Although the end scene is way to corny. (Norma Shearer, what's that supposed to mean? Do you never ever went out of a picture that way! That's so Norma Desmond!), this picture contains all I love about comedies: Pretty ladies, opulent settings and decor, marvellous costumes (Rosalind Russells' hats!!) and hairstyles and most important of all: a witty script. I really love these tartly ladies of "The Women" (1939)!
If you don't want to see the whole film watch Rosalind Russell doing her excersises or.. or.. *er*. No, you've got to watch that movie!
There were two remakes: one of 1956 ("The Opposite Sex"), which I will review some day and a 2008 version (also called "The Women") which I avoid to see - so somebody out there has to do that review.
And here the most famous quote out of "The Women" (1939):
"I've had two years to grow claws, mother! Jungle red!"
Good bye! I got to go and watch another movie! So:
"Get me a bromide - and put some gin in it!"