The Women

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The women the cast.jpg
It's all about men!
Tagline for the 1939 version.

The Women is a 1939 film directed by George Cukor and based on the 1936 stage play by Clare Boothe Luce. As its title implies, and contrary to the page quote, it's about women; in fact, there are no men at all in the story.

The story concerns a group of women, led by Mary Haines and Sylvia Fowler, whose lives are disrupted when it's discovered that Mr. Stephen Haines is having an affair. The other woman is Crystal Allen, a perfume saleswoman, and certainly not a decent person. As she heads to a Reno Dude Ranch for a quick divorce, Mary meets a few new friends on the way. A few twists come in when one of the new friends is revealed to be the new Mrs. Fowler and the new husband of another starts an affair with Crystal.

The film has inspired two remakes. One, titled The Opposite Sex, was released in 1956 and actually featured men; the other, also titled The Women and featuring an all-female cast, came out in 2008.

The Women was added to the National Film Registry in 2007.

Tropes used in The Women include:
  • All-Star Cast: The 1939 version features, among others, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine and Norma Shearer. The 1956 film has June Allyson, Anne Miller, Joan Collins, and Leslie Neilson. The 2008 version features, among others, Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Jada Pinkett Smith, Debra Messing, Eva Mendes (all five of which were "jointly" nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress), Cloris Leachman and Carrie Fisher.
  • Animal Motifs: The opening credits of the 1939 movie.
  • Be a Whore to Get Your Man
  • Break the Haughty: The whole point of the film; Mary basically is a wealthy socialite with a darling child who doesn't have a care in the world. But her cousin Sylvia, with a strained marriage of her own and semi-envious of Mary's happiness, decides to destroy Mary's life by revealing her husband's adultery and egging her own to divorce her husband.
  • Catch Phrase: "Oh l'amour, l'amour!" by the Countess.
  • Cat Fight: Sylvia gets into one with Miriam when she learns she's the woman her husband's going to marry. It's complete with hair-pulling, clothes tearing, and even some biting.
  • Fashion Show: Featured in the middle of the film, in full color; the scene was purged from the film for decades due to it being out of place in a black and white film.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A spectacular use is Crystal's last line in the film.

"And by the way, there's a name for you ladies, but it isn't used in high society---outside of a kennel."


Edith: Somebody ought to shut that manicurist up.
Sylvia: A good piece of scandal like that? Not a chance, why that girl never stops talking. You know how those creatures are, babble babble babble babble babble, never let up for a minute, the lot they care whose lives they ruin. It wouldn't be so bad if only Mary's friends knew. We could keep our mouths shut.
Edith: I know I never breathe about my friends' husbands.
Sylvia: So do I.

  • Large Ham: The Countess. And Sylvia when she gets into hysterics.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Sylvia winds up getting a divorce herself, and then meets the woman her husband is planning on marrying while at Reno.
  • Meal Ticket: Stephen and Buck.
  • The Musical: The second movie.
  • Nice Hat: Comes up often in the film. Sylvia gets the most ridiculous ones in both the movie and the 2001 stage revival.
  • Ow, My Body Part:

Sylvia: But you know how some women are when they lose their heads... they do things they regret all their lives.
(Instructioness grabs Sylvia's leg and forces it into place)
Sylvia: Ouch, my [caesarean] scars!

  • Pretty in Mink: The first couple films have loads of furs.
  • Really Gets Around: Crystal Allen
  • Time Skip: Two years pass after Mary fails to prevent Stephen from marrying Crystal.
  • The Unfair Sex: Averted; the story directs its scorn to Crystal Allen, not the philandering husbands. It does turn out Stephen is miserable being married to Crystal.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Little Mary is mature enough to understand that her father is miserable with Crystal without the two even needing to speak about it.
  • Your Cheating Heart