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The Women (1939)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | 1 September 1939 (USA)
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3:26 | Trailer
A study of the lives and romantic entanglements of various interconnected women.

Director:

George Cukor

Writers:

Clare Boothe Luce (from the play by) (as Clare Boothe), Anita Loos (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Norma Shearer ... Mrs. Stephen Haines - Mary
Joan Crawford ... Crystal Allen
Rosalind Russell ... Mrs. Howard Fowler - Sylvia
Mary Boland ... The Countess De Lave - Flora
Paulette Goddard ... Miriam Aarons
Joan Fontaine ... Mrs. John Day - Peggy
Lucile Watson ... Mrs. Morehead
Phyllis Povah ... Mrs. Phelps Potter - Edith
Virginia Weidler ... Little Mary
Marjorie Main ... Lucy
Virginia Grey ... Pat
Ruth Hussey ... Miss Watts
Muriel Hutchison ... Jane
Hedda Hopper ... Dolly DuPuyster
Florence Nash ... Nancy Blake
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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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

1 September 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Women See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,688,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$16,161
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Black and White | Color (Technicolor) (one sequence)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 1960, MGM toyed with the idea of doing an all-male remake of The Women which would have been entitled, Gentlemen's Club. Like the female version, this would have involved an all masculine cast and the plot would have involved a man (Jeffrey Hunter) who recently discovers among his comrades that his wife is having an affair with another man (Earl Holliman) and after going to Reno to file for divorce and begin a new life, he later finds himself doing what he can to rectify matters later on when he discovers that the other man is only interested in money and position and he decides to win his true love back again. Although nothing ever came of this, it would have consisted of the following ensemble had it did: Jeffrey Hunter (Martin Heal), Earl Holliman (Christopher Allen), Tab Hunter (Simon Fowler), Lew Ayres (Count Vancott), Robert Wagner (Mitchell Aarons), James Garner (Peter Day), Jerry Mathers (Little Martin), James Stewart (Mr. Heal), Ronald Reagan (Larry), Troy Donahue (Norman Blake), and Stuart Whitman (Oliver, the bartender who spills the beans about the illicit affair). See more »

Goofs

In her bathing scene, Joan Crawford's character is supposed to mispronounce "cooperate." She doesn't, so the little girl's reaction therefore makes no sense. See more »

Quotes

Mary Haines: May I suggest, if you're dressing to please Stephen, not that one. He doesn't like such obvious effects.
Crystal Allen: Thanks for the tip. But when anything I wear doesn't please Stephen, I take it off.
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 »

Alternate Versions

At the start of the Technicolor Adrian fashion show, the video and TV versions have traditionally shown a Technicolor stage in the middle of the screen surrounded by pure white (this always struck me as odd but I never thought too much about it). The original 1939 version of the scene shows the Technicolor stage surrounded by the rest of the room IN BLACK AND WHITE, using a stenciling process developed for (but ultimately unused in) The Wizard of Oz. Presumably, because the reel starts right BEFORE the transition, it was either too much trouble and expense to process the small bit of stray black and white footage for television (it would have to have been printed separately onto each release print in 1939)or, more likely, the footage has been lost. The new video and cable versions show The Women in a reconstruction of the original version, with the Technicolor stage printed over a black and white still from later in the film. The image, as now presented, is much less jarring than the original video release. The fashion show was also shot in black and white, with the models interacting with the stars as they move throughout the boutique. After principal photography ended, MGM decided to re-shoot the fashion show in Technicolor (this color footage was not shot by George Cukor)and the models no longer interact with Norma Shearer, 'Rosalind Russell', etc. The original black and white footage, saved in the MGM vault, can now be seen as a special feature on the Warner DVD. Older television prints often showed the fashion show in black and white, but it was not this alternate footage, just the color sequence printed without its tints. See more »

Connections

Featured in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Big Parade of Hits for 1940 (1940) See more »

Soundtracks

Old Chisholm Trail (Come a Ti Yi Yippee Yippee Yay)
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung a cappella in part by Mary Boland
Reprised a cappella in part by Rosalind Russell
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Girls Talk
27 December 2007 | by LejinkSee all my reviews

As has been said before 1939 was a great year for Hollywood classics, "Gone with the Wind", "The Wizard of Oz", "Wuthering Heights", "Stagecoach", et.al but I must admit I'd never heard of this film, or its place in the pantheon before now. It merits its spot. Once the novelty of an all-female cast wears off (there' nary a male extra in the backgrounds either), the movie crackles along as a small group of society women present a kaleidoscopic view of relations with men so that while men are absent physically they're ever-present in the dialogue and thoughts of this contrasting set of women-folk. Introduced wittily over the titles alongside their attributional equivalents in the animal world, the actresses play out of their skins and make a two hour plus set-bound movie simply fly by. Central to the whole is Norma Shearer, whose perfect marriage is shattered by her husband's casual infidelity with on-the-make shop girl Joan Crawford in a terrific, venomous turn. Shearer effectively plays queen bee to the drones around her both in her society set and in the motley assemblage at the divorce farm in Reno. She makes the journey from marriage to divorce and back with dignity and intelligence and even if I personally disagree with her choice and the sickly schmaltzy close-up with which she ends the film, about to fall back into her errant (ex-) husband's arms, this doesn't invalidate the fun and wit that has gone before. As good as Crawford and Shearer are, in their contrasting roles, it's Rosalind Russell as the treacherous, waspish Mrs Fowler, who steals the show and gets many of the best situations (her cat fight with Goddard is priceless!) and lines. Goddard too is radiant and knowing in her part, while a young Joan Fontaine simpers pleasantly as the naive "little child" of the group. A special nod also to the child actress playing Shearer's daughter without artifice and yet with appreciable warmth and naturalness. There are one or two anachronistic moments which jar, reflecting contemporary attitudes towards race and censorship, but on the whole, "woman's director" George Cukor keeps all the ingredients close to or at boiling point throughout. Perhaps too many of the speeches are head and shoulder shots fore square to the camera and having got good play out of two servant staff extemporising the doings of their masters, Cukor makes the mistake of repeating the trick immediately afterwards, thus diminishing the comedic impact. Nevertheless, appreciating that some of these criticisms are merely due to a retrospective eye (obviously cinematic times and styles change) on a film which in some respects is dated, there are still some neat turns in the language and phrases used, which still resonate today.


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