Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Women 1939

I don't usually review classic films, but I recorded The Women from TCM and finally got around to watching it and boy is it fabulous!

The cast is all women, I mean ALL women...right down to the animals on the set! It was written by a woman (adapted by 2 women from the play The Women by Clare Boothe Lucewhat a woman!) and has a cast of over 130 females in speaking parts.

Starring Norma Shearer as the "good girl" Mary Haines and Joan Crawford as the "other woman" Crystal Allen, but the one who steals the show is Rosalind Russell who plays the "bitchy friend" Sylvia Fowler so well that you can't hate her like you should. She is just sooooo funny!

Although it was directed by a man, George Cukor, his homosexuality may have given him an advantage in tackling the film as only a director who really understands women could have done such a fabulous job with the subject matter. And that he did.

Olga the manicurist: She's got those eyes that run up and down a man like a searchlight!

Exercise instructress: Arms flat. Crawl slowly up the wall...
Sylvia Fowler: The way you say that makes me feel like vermin.
Exercise instructress: That shouldn't be much effort. I mean crawling up the wall.

Countess DeLave: Get me a bromide. And put some gin in it!

Crystal Allen: There's a name for you, ladies, but it isn't used in high society...outside of a kennel.

Mary Haines: I've had two years to grow claws mother. Jungle red!

I think my enjoyment of The Women was only tempered by a bit of guilt at seeing some of myself and my friends reflected in the gossiping especially. I will think of this film often when tempted to pass judgement in the future.

I was amazed at how little things have changed in 75 years as well, including an early spin class at the spa. I kid you not! A very modern film in many respects (and women never change it seems). It was a little weird however to hear a line like "Living alone has it's compensations. Heaven knows it's marvelous to spread out in bed like a swastika"!!!!

Lastly, if you don't know anything about the author of the original play Clare Boothe Luce, you should take a minute and read her Wikipedia page.  She was a writer, Congresswoman, Ambassador to Italy and Brazil and even coined the phrase "No good deed goes unpunished". This awesome woman needs to be remembered, so please join me in awe.


P.S. Skip the 2008 version. The original is here:


  1. Jenny - Thanks to your prompting, I finally saw this film (not bad for a film major to get around to this about 25 year after graduating!). What a wonderful (and really quite modern) tale of women - and how we treat one another! I got quite caught up in the story and only occasionally noticed that there were absolutely no men shown on film … they are in the next room, at the other end of the telephone, etc. but never seen on screen. I wonder if the "trick" was revealed in the trailers/advance press for the film when it was released in 1939, or if they just let the audience figure it out for themselves! Thanks for drawing it to the attention of your readers …

    And I think you found all of the great lines! After all "No good deed goes unpunished" - thank you Clare Booth Luce!

    Cheers and Happy Easter, from Big Sister (I forgot my Google login after I changed it post-Heartbleed bug. Yikes!)

  2. Love, love, love this movie! And you are so right, it is relevant today. My sister and I love watching it, and we need to again! Thanks for the reminder of this wonderful classic. (btw, there was a good version as well on PBS some years back, with Kristen Johnson, Rue McClanahan, Jennifer Tilly, and Jennifer Coolidge).

  3. Thanks for sharing this post. I remembered seeing the movie years ago when I was a teenager but could never remember the name of the movie. All I could remember was the nail polish part. Probably because my grandmother was a devoted red nail polish girl. Now I have a name to put with the movie!

  4. I am so grateful to find your particular post. I have bookmarked this website and I will keep visiting you for further such interesting posts.

  5. This sounds absolutely fabulous--I wonder if anyone has considered a remake.

    Looking for it on streaming video...

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