Sunday, May 15, 2011

CMBA Presents: The Films of 1939 Blogathon: "The Women" A Photo Review

"The Women" was my first choice for the Blogathon because 1) It's a great film showcasing not only gorgeous fashion by Adrian and stylish sets by Cedric Gibbons but some of our favorite female stars of the day are beyond fabulous in stand out roles, then 2) It's my mother's favorite film. So I hope you will enjoy this not so serious photo review of a classic.

The Women

Norma Shearer as Mary Haines (the first Mrs..Stephen Haines)
Joan Crawford as Crystal Allen
Rosalind Russell as Mrs. Howard Fowler (Sylvia)
Mary Boland as The Countess De Lave
Paulette Goddard as Miriam Aarons
Phyllis Povah as Mrs. Phelps Potter (Edith)
Joan Fontaine as Mrs. John Day (Peggy)
Virginia Weildler as Little Mary
Marjorie Main as Lucy
Virginia Grey as Pat (perfume counter clerk)
Ruth Hussey as Miss Watts (Stephens secretary)
Director: George Cukor
Writer: Clare Boothe Luce (play) Anita Loos
Costumes by Adrian
Set Design by Cedric Gibbons
Released by MGM studios

Let's jump right in to The Women, dedicated to my beautiful and always tasteful mother, Mearlene.

Not even a minute in and our ladies are already in a dog fight! I'm rooting for the scrappy one on the left.

We get our first glance of the glamorous day spa where dogs are dogs and the women  run room to room like cattle.  Surely this will be a relaxing day for the upper class.

This ones been caught smuggling in her own beverage. Wow, this place is strict and I'm a bit frightened.

This treatment has me a bit puzzled then theres an actual nurse applying it. Well this is a comedy so hopefully nobody will get hurt.

Somebody has a secret! I can't prove anything but I think these ladies are being experimented on.

I would feel awful for this one getting the rubber hose (her check bounced) but I went to an upscale spa in Sante Fe once and the masseuse was blind with a seeing eye dog! Of course theres nothing wrong with that other than the masseuse groping for body parts for 45 minutes and his seeing eye dog licking my toes every few seconds from under the table. Not relaxing at all and I paid cash!  

High Society's version of rock climbing!

What do you mean they've made you stay on this bike for 6 hours?... It's quite okay dear, I've had the laughing gas and I can't feel a thing.  But before you go can you tell that green monkey to get off of the bike path.

Finally a treatment room that looks safe other than the fact that these UV lamps are on the 'sun setting' and they weren't allowed eye protection.

I'm beyond certain "Silence of the Lambs" got a lot of it's inspiration from this film! Who's scared?

Grab the silver Madge while I raid the fridge! I always knew this high faluten salon would go down over those dogs! Yes, drugging patrons before making them exercise couldn't possibly draw attention.  Who wants this Banana's Foster?

I have to tell you two things! This 'hair dryer' is putting off these strange volts of electricity and I overheard  Mary Haines has husband trouble.

Sylvia being the towns gossip can't wait to let someone know that the delightful Mr. Haines is stepping out on his wife and with a perfume clerk for crying out loud.

The look on this ones face gives you an idea of just how these ladies operate.  Either that or she was also told that house of horrors better known as the fancy day spa was shut down by the humane society.

Let's check in with Mary Haines who's painfully unaware that her marriage is falling apart. (Okay, I've said this before and I hope I don't offend anyone but Norma Shearer's hairstyle is the one thing that drives me nuts about her)

She's having a lovely time with her daughter Mary.

Then she has to go and ruin it for all of us. Please stop that Norma!

I've heard my hairstyle bugs some people so going forward I'll be wearing this!

Oh look it's a note from that designer Adrian telling me that unless I can learn some fancy pool routines the Esther Williams cap has to go.

Mother, I'm not certain I can fix this. It's like trying to comb Barbie doll hair after it's sat out in the sun for a few decades. 

The ladies start arriving at Mary's so they can fain caring and compassion. 

That is the most hideous blouse Sylvia! You look like you have four eyes and none of them can see straight! And don't get me started on your posture.  

The four eyed fretter has decided to tell Mary to run down to the day spa and have her nails done by a certain manicurist who is spreading the word that Mr. Haines is stepping out.  

What do you mean that designer Adrian is having a laugh at my expense?

Mr. Haines calls to say he won't be home for dinner and we get the feeling this is a frequent event. Poor Mary.

Poor little Joan Fontaine is as oblivious as she was as Mrs. de Winter but at least she has a few fake friends this go around.

Mary arrives at the spa for her manicure but sadly her hair part has her all off kilter. Joan Fontaine would help her to her chair but she has a third grade algebra class she's late for. (I'm trying really hard to embrace these fashions)

The manicurist is talking a mile a minute and sadly it's the latest gossip about a certain Mr. Haines stepping out on his wife with a perfume clerk named Crystal.

Mary being the lady that she is decides she's had enough so she politely tips the manicurist and tries to make her exit. 

Then the manicurist notices her hair for the first time and realizes she's in fact Mrs. Haines.

Nope! It doesn't look any better from that view either but your bathroom is adorable. 

Mary confides in her mother who suggests they take a trip to the Bahamas.  

Then she drops the bombshell that Mary's father had a fling which was okay with her since it gave her more time to knit and attend the day spa for stressful and life altering treatments.

This is high society where hugs are rare and awkward 

Lets check in with Mr. Haines. I get the feeling we won't be seeing him ever. 

We get our first glimpse at the other woman, Crystal. I'm sure when she turns around she will be young and beautiful since she's the mistress.

Well okay, I was wrong about that! 

Mr. Haines is on the phone trying to cancel dinner with the lying she devil.

Virginia Grey is a stunner! I guess she was off the day Mr. Haines came in to the store.

ACK! Stop with the closeups Cukor.

Slinky and her side kick decide to head over and get a look at Crystal who wastes no time trying to blind them. (Slinky should have worn her eyeball sweater to confuse her)

Stand still Joanie and congrats on finding flattering lighting.

Sylvia, having the posture of an eel and the leftover wardrobe from "Gone With the Wind" on her side isn't one to go out classy so she makes her exit after a few digs at Crystal.

Nothing to see here! Just takin out the trash.

Over at the Haines household they're enjoying home movies of their Bahama trip.

It's time for a fashion show and the ladies are looking fantastic.

Slinky decides she's going to knit and ignore the show. Just wait until she realizes she missed the Technicolor.

Something for the patriotic tennis champ.

Oh, this is practical for your next croquette match.

I love this one! It has just the right amount of roses and detail.

Oh, it's even prettier when closed. Now thats a conversation starter. I think Adrian was having a laugh or he ran out of buttons and took it out on the mannequin.

This one would be a real stand out on the beach.

I've never been to the Hampton's but I'm guessing this would be perfect for there.  

I always get a feel for how my bathing suit will hold up by riding a sea horse around while balancing beach balls.

This one looks expensive

and complicated!

But it comes with a matching outfit for your pet monkey.

Just when I think it can't get anymore bizarre the models start throwing peanuts at the audience. 

Oh, I guess it was just a distraction while they rolled out the picnic set.

That's just too beautiful for a picnic.

I hope they have this one in orange!

This one brought flowers and she wants everyone to know it. 

Heres your finale. Thanks for coming.

Slinky has found out Crystal is also at the fashion show so she wastes no time ruining Mary's day.

Don't be down! Go have a look at the other women and you'll feel better.

Crystal's busy running up charges on Mr. Haines's account 

What do you mean by "Can we throw in a facial and some botox?"

I've still got a nice figure when I stand with my hands like this and wear feathers at a certain angle.

Leave her alone Slinky, she's trying on clothes for her next trip into 1888.

Mary gets her first look at Crystal.

I felt the same way when I saw her too!

Joan is standing there looking all Peyton Place. 

And we're back at the spa where Slinky is being tortured and hopefully getting her spine back in alignment.

I've never looked like this while working out. I think theres something mentally wrong with Sylvia.

Either that or those bows she wears are made of concrete.

Her sidekick shows up and it's obvious their bodies aren't made for the gym or chairs or .....

standing like normal humans.

or sitting down. I think they need medical attention.

The Haines scandal has made the paper. I bet that Hedda Hopper was behind this one.

Mary packs up her belongings and signs divorce papers 

Then she gets a lovely box with a corsage from Mr. Haines. Which is a nice gesture so perhaps they'll get back together.

Well, he certainly deserves a divorce AND Crystal.

This is all very sad then theres that gorgeous monkey vase, the one thing her husband didn't take for some odd reason.

We're on the divorce train to Reno.

Mary brought along Peggy who's getting a divorce too. 

Theres a whole train full of them! Perhaps the divorce train to Reno only runs twice a year.

Apparently when you get a divorce in this movie you are thrown down a worm hole where you end up living with Ma Kettle on a dude ranch. 

I have a suspicion that this one wasn't dressed by Adrian.

Countess Lave has gotten herself duded up while poor Peggy is still trying to keep from falling over.

Paulette has already found herself a new man which is really no surprise after seeing that fabulous outfit.

And whats even better is the ladies find out it's Slinky's husband that Paulette has stolen. 

And here comes Slinky! Right of the stagecoach and into the fun zone. 

She's already found out that Paulette has stolen Mr. Slinky. (Why don't these people ever ride fast horses?)

This is why wearing shorts to ride horses is never a good idea.

Cat fight! 

With Slinky's total lack of balance I'm doubting this fight will last long.

That is just ridiculous  

One of these ladies has rabies, one is awkwardly optimistic and the other one is going to have a baby. Yippe! This dude ranch is fun.  I hope we get to see a good game of horseshoes.

Peggy is pregnant and heading back to her hubby. 

Which gives Mary the idea to call Mr. Haines.

Things start off okay but then she get the news that Mr. Haines is off to Canada to marry Cruella.

I've never been a fan of gingham but it's perfect for when you want to just disappear.

Let's check in with Crystal. Yep, she' still a mess. Who eats, smokes, uses the phone, and reads while in a bathtub with an electric mirror dangling over them?

Well okay, it's less like a bathtub and more like a vessel of tackiness.

Little Mary has overheard Crystal talking to another man. And it's Countess Laves latest husband. Apparently this town only has about 6 men 

Slinky shows up looking thinner and taller after her biting spree.

She's making Joanie sweaty and angry which is not a good look on her. 

She's gone and lowered the sails and she's going to ride that thing off into the sunset.

Heres that beautiful vase again. It really doesn't look that bad with flowers in it. 

Paulette obviously never recovered from the rabies! Poor thing.

Mary, not wanting Paulette to feel bad about growing fur, grabs a polar bear.  (I hope that dude ranch got shut down right after the day spa)

Little Mary lets it be known that theres trouble in paradise over at Casa de Tacky. 

It's time for her to go get her husband back!  I just hope she wears a hat.

All of the ladies are present and Slinky is still a mess in 40 yards of netting.

The best way to get the word out is to tell Hedda Hopper

Then throw Slinky in the closet before she bites someone.

I would love to have been there when Crawford saw the dailies and her back fat.

Countess Lave has gotten the news that Crystal has taken her latest husband. 

Then we find out that the man is broke.  I hope that dress is paid for! It's so fabulous, it would be a shame to lose it.

Darling! Come to me before you get a look at Paulette. She's had her rabies shots and she's now on the prowl.  How do you like my hair?

The Women Fun Facts:

When George Cukor was fired from Gone With the Wind he agreed to direct The Women

In addition to it's all female cast, every animal shown in the film is also female.

Sydney's, the beauty salon in the film was named after MGM's chief hairstylist, Sydney Guilaroff.

Rosalind Russell claimed in her autobiography that she called in sick until Norma Shearer agreed to share top billing with her.

Myrna Loy was originally considered to play the role of Crystal Allen that went to Joan Crawford.

F. Scott Fitzgerald contributed to the writing of the screenplay.

This film was Butterfly McQueen's film debut.

Joan Fontaine is the oldest living survivor of the films main cast.

I hope you enjoyed this review of The Women.  I'm off to read the other great reviews but hopefully I'll see you back here on Monday for my photo review of "The Gorilla".


  1. Very funny. I have renamed you "Giggles Galore".

  2. Thanks CW! I'm glad you got a few laughs out of it.

  3. What a surfeit of stunning shots. You might be interested to know that "The Women" was first intended for Claudette Colbert at Paramount until rights to the play were sold to MGM, where Shearer was the queen of the lot. About those close-ups. Virginia Grey tells an amusing anecdote on a TCM byte. The close-ups were shot after the rest of the film (I guess that was common practice then), and each of the major actresses insisted on having her favorite cinematographer do them. Apparently Joan Crawford was quite controlling to ensure hers showed her at what she thought was her best, and Grey spent most of the day standing around until Crawford was sure everything was just right. Speaking of Roz Russell's autobiography. I recall her writing how she and Cukor couldn't decide how she should play her part. Nothing seemed right. Finally Cukor suggested that just for fun they relax and try it with the most over-the-top interpretation. Russell thought it was too outrageous to work, but Cukor loved it and wanted her to play the part that way.

  4. Page, unless I'm more addlebrained than I think I am, this is the first time I've had the pleasure of reading your blog, and I'm in love! Your hilarious comedic pictorial on THE WOMAN had me laughing out loud! This is sheer genius. If I were giving out grades, your take on THE WOMAN would get an A+! Nice work, Page!

  5. Oops! Page, of course I meant to say "THE WOMEN," not "THE WOMAN" -- otherwise it would have been a one-woman show. :-) Sorry for the typos! I loved what you did with THE WOMEN!

  6. great post page...a picture does speak a 1000 words....CUKOR at his best...anyone who has qualms about this being a great film should be forced to sit thru the awful remake!!

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  8. Doc,
    I agree that the remake was a stinker! And about the photos. Some things just have to be seen to be believed. I am certain Adrian had a fantastic time on this film.
    Glad you enjoyed it.

  9. R.D,
    Very interesting info about Rosalind! She is hysterical in the film so I'm glad Cukor prevailed. She also looked 7 ft tall when she managed to stay upright.
    I'd love to see Grey's interview. It makes sense when you look at her closeups vs Crawford's. I thought perhaps Cukor did it to Joan on purpose.

    I could have sworn you had been here a few times but if not I'm glad you're here now.
    I'm glad you enjoyed the review and had a good laugh.

  10. Good Lord, Page, how do you manage to make me laugh about one scene that always puts a tear in my eye -- when Shearer cries into the gingham couch with the same kind of gingham shirt, it DOES make her disappear! It's funny, but I always thought her shirt looked like it was made out of the same material as the couch. The fashion show was so cool -- I love that part of the movie -- it is fascinating to see what was considered de rigeur in another era. Your descriptions were just great -- made me think, can you imagine actually wearing those clothes in the real world? One puff of wind and the whole outfit would fall apart! And some of those hats! You'd need specially made tall doors to get in and out.

    I thought I'd fall off my chair laughing when you talked about Shearer's hair. She's gorgeous, but that hairdo -- your picture of her with her head tilted and your caption were priceless!

    The monkey vase -- I've seen this movie a zillion times, and I never noticed it! That's one of the ugliest things I've ever seen -- wish I had one.

    When you first showed Marjorie Main and the ranch, you said something as wise as it was hilarious -- when a woman gets a divorce, she is thrown down a worm hole. I never heard anything more true! Just fabulous stuff, Page!

  11. Great review. This picture is fabulous in every way. There is no better oldie flick out there! I can and will watch this one over and over. But I must say...I love the bathtub. You just can't find stuff like that anymore, or actresses of that caliber for that matter. Well done!

  12. Oh, Page, this was just so much fun. Since the film is just delightful, your fabulous post is a fitting tribute. Great captions and great pictures (but don't be so hard on poor Joan - she took a beating in the hairstyle department on this one, too).

  13. Just saw Flickchick's comment and had to come back. She's right - Joan's hair did look a lot like a brillo pad, didn't it? And I forgot to mention your great stuff about Rosalind Russell's character. There's just too much good stuff to talk about it all...

  14. Emily,
    Thank you! You know that bathtub was insane! Then when Joanie grabbed that rope and that curtain came down I about died the first time I saw it. I wonder how long they had Joan in that tub during filming.

    You say the sweetest things! I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I just don't know if it's Shearers hair or it wasn't a flattering style for her round face. And you do know that whenever you watch this film again you'll be looking for that dang monkey vase. It jumped out at me because it was about the only thing left in the room after hubby took everything.

    And as many times I've seen the film I didn't ever notice just how insane that spa was until I did screen grabs. Those treatments were brutal.

    Flick Chick,
    Thank you! I'm glad you found this type of review fitting. I can't wait to go crazy with The Ice Follies...poor Joanie. And you and Becky are right about Joans hair. In a few scenes it looks like a giant fuzz ball.

  15. Page, you have created an absolutely hilarious send-up on one of my favorite movies; I’m sure Claire Boothe Luce would have approved your insight on her delightfully flawed characters. I can just her Sylvia (Rosalind Russell) saying, “For crying out loud” over your unflattering portrayal of her character, but with five eyes she can hardly miss something so obvious. I adore Norma Shearer, but sometimes I wonder what the hair and makeup folks at M-G-M were thinking with her, but fortunately Joan Crawford doesn’t really look much better (this Stephen Haines might have a fetish for women with oddly geometric hairstyles). Some of the headgear for the Hampton’s looks as if Adrian had some traffic cones painted in coordinating colors (oh do stop, Mr. Adrian). I can never watch the film again without remembering your hilarious comments.

  16. How fun! And how great for you to do one of your infamous photo reviews on a terrific film this time. All of your comments -- hair, Joan not looking her best, Slinky -- are also reasons why this film is so much fun. But doesn't everyone want a vesel of tackiness in their master bath?

  17. You know I tried to watch this movie about 10 years ago, and I couldn't get through it. The cast is excellent though and reading your great review of the movie makes me want to see the movie again and give it a second chance.

  18. W.G.
    I'm glad you approved of this one. It's hard to read how someone will respond when you snark on not only a great film but one of their favorites.

    I'm so glad a few of you agree on Shearer's odd choice of a hairstyle. Roz and Fontaine were just a hoot in this one and gave me plenty to work with. The casting was perfect and Adrian outdid himself on this one.

    Thank You! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. And if I run across one of those bathtubs I'll buy it for you as long as you pay for the shipping.

  19. Lobosco,
    Thank You! As many times as my mom has seen this film I don't think my dad has dared to watch it. Most likely because there isn't one male presence even though the female cast is great together.

  20. Wow, Page, I can't imagine how long it took to you to put this incredible photo review together! It's delightfully fun and informative. I've always enjoyed THE WOMEN, which features an intriguing gimmick and then (like all good films) makes one forget about it. My favorite pic with comment is the one about "growing fur." That's hilarious. Thanks for a unique and well-done review.

  21. The Women is a movie that I admittedly have only seen in fits and starts -- I've never sat down and watched it all the way through from beginning to end. (And now I don't have to!) No, I'm just kidding -- I had a lot of fun reading this review, Page...thanks for putting in what was clearly a lot of work!

  22. Rick,
    Thank You! That means a lot. I certainly got this up late and everyone probably thought I had ran away from home. There certainly has been some fantastic reviews done today and I can't wait to see the rest over the next two days.

    I'm always willing to help you out with getting to mark a film off the list! Now when ladies ask if you've seen it you can say "Of course, what did you think of that monkey vase and Joan's bathtub?

  23. Page - Unigue and entertaining. You have a great sense of humor, a pure delight.

  24. Thanks for such a terrifically witty photo review of one of my favorite films--I'll never be able to look at Norma's hairstyle in the same way again. As a Marjorie Main fan, I thought your comment about Ma Kettle and the dude ranch (and Adrian!) hilarious -and Joan's bathtub is so over the top, it's a hoot! Thanks for all the terrific work on the blogathon!

  25. John,
    Thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

    Those who know me know that I'm terrible at writing so attempting a serious review on great cinema would be horrid for my readers.

    I was a bit disappointed that Main didn't get a larger role since her interactions with those crazy girls would have been priceless.

    Becky deserves the bulk of the credit on this one for keeping everything in order behind the scenes. She's a pleasure to work with and this Blogathon has been such fun so far.


  26. Page, I loved your clever photo review - it perfectly reflects a very clever and eternally funny film (and one of my favorites). Great work!

  27. That was funny! Makes me want to watch it again. Thanks.

    - Java

  28. Lady Eve,
    I'm glad you found it enjoyable. Thank You.

    Java, Thank You. I had a great time doing this one.

  29. I also dislike Norma's hair. It was always the same and she was always flirtingly pushing it out of her face.

  30. The problem with this blog is it was making me laugh out loud...many times. All well and good, but I was at the office when I read it.

    Fortunately, I was on my lunch break, so I guess I'm OK after all.

    Great job, Page, and the "Silence of the Lambs" comment has kept me grinning all day. Well done.

  31. Kevin,
    That has me tickled that you were able to get such a laugh out of this while at work.

    My job is accomplished if you all got a few good laughs. Thank You so much.

  32. This was a perfect bit of well-done snark about a movie that tends to drive me up the wall with some of its ridiculousness about female nature (that's not to say I don't still enjoy it!). I always enjoy your photo reviews--they really distills these movies down to the essence. And the giggles are always welcome!

  33. MacGuffin,
    I'm glad to have you in the NON Shearer hair camp.

    Thank You! I certainly understand what you mean in regards to 'female nature'. I was a bit embarrassed that these great actresses had to play such silly door mats. I just have to remember how things were in that era and hopefully have some fun with it.

  34. I thought Norma Shearer was excellent as Mary Haines, who has no clue of how her husband has taken up with Crystal Allen, beautifully played by Joan Crawford. The rest of the cast also seem to be having a lot of fun in this movie... running around New York in that glamorous era!

    Thanks for the smile :)

  35. Page, I am thinking about suing you on behalf of the great Adrian. SNARK! I bet you know where that came from! I love your spoof on The Women. And of course you know that Adrian had a great sense of humor and was the only designer/couturier that I know of that consistently used wit and humour in his designs. Like the "seeing eyes" on Sylvia's blouse to denote her snoopy persona. Sylvia's outfits did have another tangible outcome - Rosalind Russel's future husband Freddy stated that any woman that had the courage to wear hats like those was the woman for him. Thanks for this great post.

  36. Dawn,
    It really is a good film and the casting was so perfect. I certainly can see why it's my mothers favorite.

    You little sneak! Ha Ha I'm so glad you had a sense of humor about this because I was a bit worried that you would not care for my humor, especially since this film showcased Adrian's fashions.

    Roz's eyeball sweater and her posture had me in stitches. I can see that Adrian didn't take himself too seriously which is a lot of fun for us when looking back at his fabulous work.

    I'm relieved you enjoyed it and welcome to my blog.

  37. Great post! Watched this movie a little while ago and thought it was really good. I love that fashion bit in colour! Rosalind Russel is so funny and Joan Fontaine is yet again not in the know, but I do feel a little better for her now she has some pals (even fake ones! :D).

    Loved the photos and the review,


  38. I'm with GrandOldMovies on this one--the appearance of Ma Kettle is the shot that put my drink through my nose!

    Also, like Ivan, I've somehow never managed to sit through this one in full, though I'm pretty sure the bits I've seen add up to an entire picture. That said, I couldn't imagine Myrna Loy doing the Joan Crawford part!

    Thanks for the awesome snarky photopost, Page!

  39. Cliff,
    Thanks for the kind comments. Ha! I agree that Ma Kettle was a nice surprise....she could show up in every film and I would be thrilled to pieces. I can see this film not appealing to that many men so no worries there.

  40. Page, I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to get through the 1939 reviews but this was fabulous! Easily your funniest photo review yet. I love your comments about poor Norma's hair, and of course Slinky! I was laughing out loud!


  41. Caroline,
    I just saw your comment. Thanks so much for the compliments. I'm glad you enjoyed this not so serious review on a great film.

  42. Yall need to check out the BEST Crawford site on the planet it's got lots of tidbits and photos and HISStory!

  43. Mamas BIIIIIG TittiesSeptember 2, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    I'm so drunk I speeeled it wrong yall its