The Women

When Clare Booth (Luce) set her delicious all-woman play "The Women" in 1936 New York City, her satire focused on the idle (rich) wives and divorcees who patronized posh spas, gossiped over martinis, and shopped till they dropped at Saks Fifth Avenue. Maybe the critics didn't like it, but the play-going public DID! It became a long-running hit. It was recently revived at Seattle's ACT and starred 13 local actresses using her original script. It was divine!

In 1939 she was fortunate to have Anita Loos adapt her script into a screenplay for an all-female movie version by the same name. At that time, Reno was THE place for quickie divorces, infidelity was scandalous, pregnancy wasn't discussed in polite company and lesbians were known as "career women." It starred Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Butterfly McQueen, Spring Byington, Marjorie Main, and many other luminaries of the silver screen.

By 1956, when it was remade as "The Opposite Sex" with June Allison, Joan Collins and Ann Miller, it was expanded to include men. The husbands and boyfriends were visible, the story was updated and the movie was in Technicolor ...but it was not an improvement over the original.

In 2008 we have a defanged, politically correct, wimpy script that tries once again to catch lightening in a bottle, by excluding all males from the screen...again... Unfortunately, Meg Ryan repeats her long ultra-curly, ultra-messy hairdo from "When Harry Met Sally." Problem is, that hairdo was designed to make fun of the time period, not to depict a wealthy, society dame who enjoys all the privileges of money and position. Things go downhill from there.

The women in this cast have all done better work:
  • Annette Bening ("Being Julia") has the gossipy Rosalind Russell role.
  • Debra Messing ("The Wedding Date") is their fertile friend.
  • Jada Pinkett Smith ("Collateral") is the lesbian, but is VERY funny in the childbirth scene.
  • Candice Bergen ("Miss Congeniality") is our heroine's wise mother, and I DID like her plastic surgery getup.
  • Bette Midler ("The First Wives Club") is the oft-married divorcee. When she comes tripping down to the lakeshore in her high-heeled wedgies, I thought things were finally going to pop, but they dropped that whole subplot!
  • Cloris Leachman is the housekeeper. She has worked non-stop for decades, but we all remember her in the classic "Young Frankenstein."
  • Debi Mazar ("Collateral") is excellent at the gossipy manicurist who starts the ball rolling.
  • Eva Mendez ("Hitch") is more like a glamorous Sophia Loren than a conniving Joan Crawford when she dons a black Merry Widow to set off her Jungle Red nail polish.

Wonderful opportunity....wasted. I'll keep my black and white copy of the original, directed by George Cukor, thanks.