The Women (1939)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Women</strong> (1939)

(On Cable TV, January 2019) It’s not clear to me when George Cukor got a reputation for being a “woman’s director”, but there’s got to be a link between that and The Women, a film renowned for having an all-female cast … down to the extras and gender of the animals shown on-screen. That’s not the only reason why it has endured, however: the script is a master class in delightful bitchiness between its major characters, all the way to a memorable catfight at the beginning of its third act. The acerbic script has several witty things to say about marriage from the point of view of an ensemble of women having similar but complementary problems with their husband and lovers. Set in the Manhattan upper-class, The Women is Hollywood glitz escapist wish fulfillment, but also a bit of a pure exploration of gender tension freed from the shackles of money. There is a distinctive “fashion show” sequence that was shot in colour, adding a dash of style to the movie. The cast is solid, with a number of the era’s most famous actresses taking part—and, of course, the antagonist is played by Joan Crawford. The beginning of the film can be a sink-or-swim experience, as the script moves fast and it can be difficult to distinguish between half a dozen very similar brunettes … but it gets much better as the subplots unfold, and as the solid dialogue keeps drawing us in. The Women may have a bland title, but it’s a hard film to forget.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *