A newspaper man, his ignored fiancée, and his former employee, a down on his luck reporter, hatch an elaborate scheme to turn a false news story into the truth in order to prevent a high-society woman from suing for libel.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In addition to its all-female cast, every animal that was used in the film (the many dogs and horses) was female as well. In addition, none of the works of art seen in the backgrounds were representative of the male form, except for the cartoon bull that appears in the picnic scene during the fashion sequence. See more »
When Sylvia is sitting on the couch knitting after the "color" fashion show - she does not have her glasses on - then in the next moment her glasses appear on her face. See more »
In the opening credits, before the photo images of the actresses are shown, their characters are revealed by images of various animals. See more »
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 »
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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