Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Women, 1939

Movie for the Evening:”The Women”

1939

Certainly a comedy but, also, a study of the plight and plenty of societal women residing in their bourgeoisie apartments on Park Avenue. The director, George Cukor, with a gay driven perspective on the menagerie of female types (using this to present, at the beginning of the film, each of the major players as their “animal” counterpart) offering an examination of this social class’s dynamics that make women superficial, gossipy, and predatory man chasers.

Mrs. Steven Haines, played by Norma Shearer,is shocked to find out her husband is having an affair with a perfume counter girl, Crystal, played by Joan Crawford. Her reaction, dictated by pride, provides a life lesson that harkens back to a time when women’s lives revolved around family.

This period, before the pill and the revolution, is captured by an assumed to be assured hand by, what else, a movie studio who’s product is seen by, mostly, people who did not live this life style and know little to nothing in fact about it.

George Cukor, who was a closeted gay man in the fold of high society, knew the best and the brightest of the celebrity class. His observations which structured the performances of this cast of only women can be questioned on several levels, however the success of this film and the fact that it retains much of it’s punch 80 years later can be used to assert it’s accuracy.

The film provides a detant from the back-biting and assault dialogue with a fashion show, using the new technic of Technicolor, that is an eye-opener as to how these women saw themselves, and are see, in the world they occupied.

Great performances by Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, Lucile Watson (who plays the knowing mother of Mary Haines), and Marjorie Main.

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