Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Women

TCM showed The Women the other night, I'm guessing because the remake just came out which looks to be basically terrible. However, I found the original 1939 version to be fabulous!

I was thinking about renting it last week after all the talk about the remake, but lucky me, TCM was one step ahead of me. I do love them.

Anyway, the film follows a group of incredibly spoiled housewives who are friends only in that they see each other regularly. I'm not sure you can call many of their interactions friendly, per se; they're generally pretty cruel to each other. Nevertheless, they continue to have lunch parties and observe all the usual proprieties while mostly complaining to each other about their husbands. These are the ties that bind.

The opening credits involve each woman being compared to an animal. It's a little odd to say the least. I couldn't figure out the exact meaning of some of them, but I just know I wouldn't want to be the one compared to a cow.

As the film progresses we begin to learn more about each character, though it mostly revolves around Mary, played by Norma Shearer, a housewife living in her own little fairy tale world, totally oblivious to the fact that her husband is cheating on her with a perfume saleswoman, (Joan Crawford). Mary was generally much too happy and she often pranced around instead of walking like a normal person. Perhaps her husband was super annoyed by this as well. However, when she's finally crushed after hearing the news about her cheating husband, she stops prancing, thank heavens.

The best character in the film is the gossip-happy, basically insane Sylvia played by Rosalind Russell. She's just amazing and hilarious and has a very special taste in clothes. Along with her sidekick, Edith Potter (the cow in the opening credits), she easily spreads the news about Mary's husband and craziness ensues. This part was perfect for Rosiland Russell as she can talk about a mile a minute and her juicy gossip seems to fly out of her mouth before she can stop it.

The rest of the characters range from the cynical old maid to the perky young newlywed. They pretty much cover all the bases.

In some ways it reminded me of a very old fashioned Sex in the City or the like. Talking about men, some drama, some fights, and so on. It's nowhere near real life, but many of the issues they deal with can touch close to home. I think it's safe to say just about every woman can relate to at least one of the characters, unrealistic as they may be.

So I highly recommend it. It's funny in parts and serious in parts, but overall pretty entertaining. But see the remake at your own risk!

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