The Women


2h 12m 1939
The Women

Brief Synopsis

A happily married woman lets her catty friends talk her into divorce when her husband strays.

Photos & Videos

The Women - Paulette Goddard Publicity Stills
The Women - Publicity Stills
The Women - Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Sep 1, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Women by Clare Boothe Luce (New York, 26 Dec 1936) by arrangement with Max Gordon Plays and Pictures Corporation.

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 12m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White, Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
14 reels

Synopsis

While having her nails painted "jungle red," the vindictively swivel-tongued Sylvia Fowler learns from Olga, the manicurist, that her good friend Mary Haines's husband Stephen is embroiled in an affair with perfume clerk Crystal Allen. Mary is hosting a luncheon that afternoon, and Sylvia cannot wait to spread the good news among their Park Avenue friends, who will be there. Soon the sweet, trusting Mary becomes the victim of vicious insinuations regarding her husband, which are made worse when Stephen calls to cancel a trip they had been planning. Sylvia strikes the final blow by sending Mary for a jungle red manicure with Olga, who stupidly blurts out the entire story of Stephen's infidelity, not realizing that Mary is Mrs. Haines. Mary's mother, Mrs. Morehead, counsels her to keep silent and ignore the advice of her friends, but while at a fashion show, Mary unexpectedly encounters the conniving gold digger Crystal. Much to Sylvia's delight, the two rivals' meeting erupts into a major conflagration that makes the front page of the society columns. Her pride wounded, Mary demands a divorce and is soon on her way to Reno. On the train, Mary meets her confused friend, Peggy Day, who has just left her new husband, as well as Miriam Aarons and Flora, the Countess De Lave, as they all flock to Reno to file for divorce. Soon after arriving at a dude ranch for women, they are joined by Sylvia, who has been cast aside by her husband for the kinder Miriam. On the day that Mary's divorce is to become final, the worldly and wise Miriam sternly lectures her to foresake her pride and take back her husband, but Mary is too late, for Stephen has been ensnared by Crystal. Two years later, Crystal, now bored with Stephen, turns to singing cowboy Buck Winston, the countess' new, young husband, for entertainment. Mary still longs for Stephen, but has abandoned all hope of ever reconciling with him until her daughter, Little Mary, confides Stephen's misery with his new wife. Deciding to fight finally for the man she loves with "jungle red" claws, Mary tricks Sylvia, who has become friendly with Crystal, into publicly disclosing her friend's infidelity. With Crystal eliminated, Stephen asks to see Mary, who goes to him with open arms.

Cast

Norma Shearer

Mrs. Stephen Haines, Mary

Joan Crawford

Crystal Allen

Rosalind Russell

Mrs. Howard Fowler, Sylvia

Mary Boland

The Countess De Lave, Flora

Paulette Goddard

Miriam Aarons

Joan Fontaine

Mrs. John Day, Peggy

Lucile Watson

Mrs. Morehead

Phyllis Povah

Mrs. Phelps Potter, Edith

Virginia Weidler

Little Mary

Marjorie Main

Lucy

Virginia Grey

Pat

Ruth Hussey

Miss Watts

Muriel Hutchison

Jane

Hedda Hopper

Dolly DePuyster

Florence Nash

Nancy Blake

Cora Witherspoon

Mrs. Van Adams

Ann Morriss

Exercise instructress

Dennie Moore

Olga

Mary Cecil

Maggie

Mary Beth Hughes

Miss Trimmerback

Esther Dale

Ingrid

Butterfly Mcqueen

Lulu

Theresa Harris

Olive

Margaret Dumont

Mrs. Wagstaff

Mildred Shay

Helene, the French maid

Priscilla Lawson

First hairdresser

Estelle Etterre

Second hairdresser

Marjorie Wood

Sadie, old maid in powder room

Virginia Howell

Receptionist

Barbara Jo Allen

Receptionist

Aileen Pringle

Saleslady

Judith Allen

Corset model

Mariska Aldrich

Singing teacher

May Beatty

Fat woman/Society woman

May Boley

Mud mask

Ruth Findlay

Pedicurist

Charlotte Wynters

Miss Batchelor

Florence Shirley

Miss Archer

Florence O'brien

Euphie

Hilda Plowright

Miss Fordyce

Jane Isabelle

Edith Potter's child

Leni Lynn

Edith Potter's child

Nance Lee Farrar

Edith Potter's child

Jany Hope

Edith Potter's child

Joey Hope

Edith Potter's child

Leila Mcintyre

Woman with bundles

Dot Farley

Large woman

Flora Finch

Window tapper

Dorothy Sebastian

Saleswoman

Renie Riano

Saleswoman

Alice Keating

Saleswoman

Grace Goodall

Head saleswoman

Fredrika Brown

Head saleswoman

Wilda Bennett

Mrs. Carter

Helene Millard

Cosmetic saleswoman

Irene Shirley

Nurse

Effie Anderson

Nurse

Nell Craig

Nurse

Ruth Rickaby

Nurse

Gertrude Astor

Nurse

Edith Penn

Nurse

Lilian Bond

Mrs. Erskine

Rita Gould

Dietician

Josephine Whittell

Mrs. Spencer

Lenita Lane

Mrs. Spencer's friend

Anne Teeman

Makeup artist

Aileen Carlyle

Miss Hicks

Bebe Anderson

Young girl

Shirley Chambers

Girl in bath

June Gittelson

Mrs. Goldstein

Sue Moore

Masseuse

Greta Meyer

Masseuse

Meeka Aldrich

Massuse

Blanche Payson

Masseuse

Gladys Blake

Miss St. Claire

Gertrude Simpson

Stage mother

Carole Lee Kirby

Theatrical child

Mimi Olivera

Manicurist

Mabel Colcord

Woman receiving massage

Beryl Wallace

Woman in cabinet

Catherine Proctor

Woman in cabinet

Isobel Randolph

Woman in cabinet

Winifred Harris

Mrs. North/Society woman

Lita Chevret

Woman under sunlamp

Dora Clemant

Woman under sunlamp

Ruth Alder

Woman under sunlamp

Joan Blair

Mrs. Atkins

Betty Blythe

Mrs. South

Janet Mcleay

Girl in shadowgraph

Agnes Fraser

Debutante

Mildred Coles

Debutante

Jo Ann Sayers

Debutante

Mary Young

Grandma

Grace Hayle

Cyclist

Maude Allen

Cyclist

Dorothy Adams

Miss Atkinson

Lucia Lacerte

Treatment girl

Dorothy Appleby

Treatment girl

Eva Dennison

Old girl

Natalie Moorhead

Woman in modiste salon

Marie Blake

Stock room girl

Beatrice Cole

Negligee model

Carol Hughes

Salesgirl in modiste salon

Suzanne Kaaren

Tamara

Peggy Shannon

Mrs. Jones

Brenda Henderson

Mrs. Jones' daughter

Hattie Noel

Maid on train

Grayce Hampton

Dowager in powder room

Bunny Beatty

Debutante in powder room

Virginia Pine

Glamour girl

Janet Mcleay

Glamour girl

Barbara Pepper

Tough girl

Sibyl Harris

Commentator

Veda Buckland

Charlotte Treadway

Gertrude Needham

Photo Collections

The Women - Paulette Goddard Publicity Stills
Here are a few stills used to publicize Paulette Goddard, on loan-out to MGM for The Women (1939). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Women - Publicity Stills
Here are a few photos taken to help publicize MGM's The Women (1939), starring Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, and Rosalind Russell. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Women - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's The Women (1939), directed by George Cukor and featuring an all-star, all-female cast.
The Women - Movie Posters
Here are a few original-release and re-issue American movie posters for MGM's The Women (1939).
The Women - Scene Stills
Here are a number of scene stills from MGM's The Women (1939), starring Norman Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland, Paulette Goddard, and Joan Fontaine.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Sep 1, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Women by Clare Boothe Luce (New York, 26 Dec 1936) by arrangement with Max Gordon Plays and Pictures Corporation.

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 12m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White, Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
14 reels

Articles

The Women


Based on Clare Boothe's hit Broadway play, The Women (1939) is about a group of bitchy, backbiting, Park Avenue Ladies Who Lunch...and dish...with disastrous results for the only one of them who's happily married. The entire cast — more than 130 speaking roles — is female.

Appropriately, the screenplay credit went to two of Hollywood's women pioneers, Jane Murfin and Anita Loos. Murfin had been writing "women's pictures" since the silent days, and she produced a faithful adaptation of Boothe's play. Maybe too faithful. Shortly before production began, the censors objected to the racy dialogue. Enter Loos, the petite dynamo who began writing silent movies as a teenager, and who excelled at snappy dialogue. Loos claimed that she sat on the set and produced instant, cleaned-up variations of Boothe's innuendo-laden repartee.

The Women was directed by George Cukor, who was known as Hollywood's leading "women's director." And with an all-star cast headed by MGM's dueling divas, Cukor had his hands full. Norma Shearer had been the Queen of the Lot when her husband, Irving Thalberg, was head of production at MGM. Recently widowed, Shearer still had considerable clout. For years, Joan Crawford had lost plum roles to Shearer, and deeply resented her. Crawford, who had recently been declared "box office poison," needed a hit. Realizing that the role of husband-snatching Crystal in The Women was a meatier one than Shearer's virtuous wife, Crawford went after it. But even a juicy part couldn't stifle her resentment. When she had to sit off-camera and feed lines to Shearer during Shearer's close-ups, Crawford, knitting furiously and noisily, never made eye contact with her co-star. Shearer, rattled, asked Cukor to send Crawford home. Cukor did, and later insisted that Crawford apologize. She did, grudgingly. But relations between the two stars never thawed.

Shearer's contract stipulated that she get star billing. Crawford fought for, and won, equal billing. Then Rosalind Russell, who was giving a hilarious, movie-stealing performance, decided she deserved co-star billing as well. So she called in sick until she got it. Somehow, Cukor stroked all the egos and kept all the actresses busy enough to keep the feuds to a minimum. The result was a fast-paced, witty and brilliantly-acted farce.

In Gowns by Adrian: The MGM Years 1928-1941 (Abrams) author Howard Gutner noted that "Adrian designed 237 gowns for the cast of The Women. Five complete, identical changes of wardrobe were needed for the fight that erupts on the Reno divorce ranch due to the multiple takes that were required for each scene. And amid all the criticism for the inserted fashion show, a critic for the Hollywood Reporter was astute enough to recognize Adrian's contribution to the film: "Regarding the production as a whole, I would give major honors to Cedric Gibbons and Adrian, whose contributions made it possible for Oliver Marsh's and Joe Ruttenberg's cameras to make the film one of the season's outstanding visual treats."

The Women was remade as The Opposite Sex in 1956, but neither the addition of music nor the addition of men improved on the original. An updated 2008 version starring Meg Ryan and Annette Bening had feminist overtones. But most critics agreed that the later versions lacked the sparkle, bite, and star power that The Women still has.

Director: George Cukor
Producer: Hunt Stromberg
Screenplay: Jane Murfin and Anita Loos, based on the play by Clare Boothe
Editor: Robert J. Kern
Cinematography: Oliver T. Marsh, Joseph Ruttenberg
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Wade B. Rubottom; set decoration, Edwin B. Willis
Music: Edward Ward, David Snell
Cast: Norma Shearer (Mary Haines), Joan Crawford (Crystal Allen), Rosalind Russell (Sylvia Fowler), Mary Boland (Countess DeLave), Paulette Goddard (Miriam Aarons), Joan Fontaine (Peggy Day)
BW & C-134m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Margarita Landazuri

The Women

The Women

Based on Clare Boothe's hit Broadway play, The Women (1939) is about a group of bitchy, backbiting, Park Avenue Ladies Who Lunch...and dish...with disastrous results for the only one of them who's happily married. The entire cast — more than 130 speaking roles — is female. Appropriately, the screenplay credit went to two of Hollywood's women pioneers, Jane Murfin and Anita Loos. Murfin had been writing "women's pictures" since the silent days, and she produced a faithful adaptation of Boothe's play. Maybe too faithful. Shortly before production began, the censors objected to the racy dialogue. Enter Loos, the petite dynamo who began writing silent movies as a teenager, and who excelled at snappy dialogue. Loos claimed that she sat on the set and produced instant, cleaned-up variations of Boothe's innuendo-laden repartee. The Women was directed by George Cukor, who was known as Hollywood's leading "women's director." And with an all-star cast headed by MGM's dueling divas, Cukor had his hands full. Norma Shearer had been the Queen of the Lot when her husband, Irving Thalberg, was head of production at MGM. Recently widowed, Shearer still had considerable clout. For years, Joan Crawford had lost plum roles to Shearer, and deeply resented her. Crawford, who had recently been declared "box office poison," needed a hit. Realizing that the role of husband-snatching Crystal in The Women was a meatier one than Shearer's virtuous wife, Crawford went after it. But even a juicy part couldn't stifle her resentment. When she had to sit off-camera and feed lines to Shearer during Shearer's close-ups, Crawford, knitting furiously and noisily, never made eye contact with her co-star. Shearer, rattled, asked Cukor to send Crawford home. Cukor did, and later insisted that Crawford apologize. She did, grudgingly. But relations between the two stars never thawed. Shearer's contract stipulated that she get star billing. Crawford fought for, and won, equal billing. Then Rosalind Russell, who was giving a hilarious, movie-stealing performance, decided she deserved co-star billing as well. So she called in sick until she got it. Somehow, Cukor stroked all the egos and kept all the actresses busy enough to keep the feuds to a minimum. The result was a fast-paced, witty and brilliantly-acted farce. In Gowns by Adrian: The MGM Years 1928-1941 (Abrams) author Howard Gutner noted that "Adrian designed 237 gowns for the cast of The Women. Five complete, identical changes of wardrobe were needed for the fight that erupts on the Reno divorce ranch due to the multiple takes that were required for each scene. And amid all the criticism for the inserted fashion show, a critic for the Hollywood Reporter was astute enough to recognize Adrian's contribution to the film: "Regarding the production as a whole, I would give major honors to Cedric Gibbons and Adrian, whose contributions made it possible for Oliver Marsh's and Joe Ruttenberg's cameras to make the film one of the season's outstanding visual treats." The Women was remade as The Opposite Sex in 1956, but neither the addition of music nor the addition of men improved on the original. An updated 2008 version starring Meg Ryan and Annette Bening had feminist overtones. But most critics agreed that the later versions lacked the sparkle, bite, and star power that The Women still has. Director: George Cukor Producer: Hunt Stromberg Screenplay: Jane Murfin and Anita Loos, based on the play by Clare Boothe Editor: Robert J. Kern Cinematography: Oliver T. Marsh, Joseph Ruttenberg Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Wade B. Rubottom; set decoration, Edwin B. Willis Music: Edward Ward, David Snell Cast: Norma Shearer (Mary Haines), Joan Crawford (Crystal Allen), Rosalind Russell (Sylvia Fowler), Mary Boland (Countess DeLave), Paulette Goddard (Miriam Aarons), Joan Fontaine (Peggy Day) BW & C-134m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. by Margarita Landazuri

The Modern Amazons: Warrior Women on the Screen - New in Paperback!


From Barbarella to Barb Wire, The Modern Amazons: Warrior Women On-Screen, by Dominique Mainon and James Ursini, the author of more than twenty books on film history, traces the public's seemingly insatiable fascination with the warrior-woman archetype in film and on television. Through more than 400 photos, entertaining and lively writings, and sidebars about trends, style, and trivia, the warrior-woman image throughout the past five decades is vividly explored, from the "fur bikinis and jungle love" of the iconic Raquel Welch in the prehistoric adventure fantasy One Million Years BC, to Pam Grier, the first African-American woman to play a warrior woman within the action movie genre (Coffy, Foxy Brown, and Sheba, Baby).

Complete with an extensive filmography of more than 150 titles, it encompasses the warrior women of fantasy including Grace Jones as Zula in Conan the Destroyer, classic Amazons such as Xena Warrior Princess, superheroes including Wonder Woman and Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, sci-fi warrior Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Alien, supersleuths and spies such as Charlie's Angels, gothic warriors including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the "girl power" of comics, cartoons, and video games such as the Powerpuff Girls. In addition, the book highlights Hong Kong warriors such as Angela Mao (Enter the Dragon) and Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and sexploitation films including the Ilsa trilogy.

The Modern Amazons: Warrior Women On-Screenalso relates a brief background on warrior women in history, myth, and literature, chronicling the effects of male fantasy and societal values on their portrayal in film and on television, and their overall portrayal in Hollywood. Revenge and loss of father, Oedipal conflicts, sisterhood—just a few of the themes that underlie warrior-women movies—are also discussed. Special features include topics such as the "Weapons of Warrior Women," "Final Notes: Occupational Hazards of Superheroines," and the representation of women as felines ("The Feline Woman") and as snakes in myths and history ("Woman and the Serpent").

About the authors:

Dominique Mainon is a writer/researcher, martial arts aficionado, guerilla artist, and producer for an independent film company. She is currently residing in Laguna Beach, California. For information on current projects, please visit: www.dominiquemainon.com

James Ursini is the author, co-author, and co-editor of over twenty books on film history, including The Horror Film Reader, The Vampire Film Reader, and The Film Noir Reader series (all available from Limelight Editions), Noir Style, and L.A. Noir. He is also a noted DVD commentator, having done over a dozen commentaries for both Fox and Warner Bros. Mr. Ursini has written for various magazines as well as film journals. He has a doctorate from UCLA and teaches in Los Angeles. He is at present writing a noir novel.

To order The Modern Amazons, use this link to Amadeus Press.

The Modern Amazons: Warrior Women on the Screen - New in Paperback!

From Barbarella to Barb Wire, The Modern Amazons: Warrior Women On-Screen, by Dominique Mainon and James Ursini, the author of more than twenty books on film history, traces the public's seemingly insatiable fascination with the warrior-woman archetype in film and on television. Through more than 400 photos, entertaining and lively writings, and sidebars about trends, style, and trivia, the warrior-woman image throughout the past five decades is vividly explored, from the "fur bikinis and jungle love" of the iconic Raquel Welch in the prehistoric adventure fantasy One Million Years BC, to Pam Grier, the first African-American woman to play a warrior woman within the action movie genre (Coffy, Foxy Brown, and Sheba, Baby). Complete with an extensive filmography of more than 150 titles, it encompasses the warrior women of fantasy including Grace Jones as Zula in Conan the Destroyer, classic Amazons such as Xena Warrior Princess, superheroes including Wonder Woman and Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, sci-fi warrior Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Alien, supersleuths and spies such as Charlie's Angels, gothic warriors including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the "girl power" of comics, cartoons, and video games such as the Powerpuff Girls. In addition, the book highlights Hong Kong warriors such as Angela Mao (Enter the Dragon) and Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and sexploitation films including the Ilsa trilogy. The Modern Amazons: Warrior Women On-Screenalso relates a brief background on warrior women in history, myth, and literature, chronicling the effects of male fantasy and societal values on their portrayal in film and on television, and their overall portrayal in Hollywood. Revenge and loss of father, Oedipal conflicts, sisterhood—just a few of the themes that underlie warrior-women movies—are also discussed. Special features include topics such as the "Weapons of Warrior Women," "Final Notes: Occupational Hazards of Superheroines," and the representation of women as felines ("The Feline Woman") and as snakes in myths and history ("Woman and the Serpent"). About the authors: Dominique Mainon is a writer/researcher, martial arts aficionado, guerilla artist, and producer for an independent film company. She is currently residing in Laguna Beach, California. For information on current projects, please visit: www.dominiquemainon.com James Ursini is the author, co-author, and co-editor of over twenty books on film history, including The Horror Film Reader, The Vampire Film Reader, and The Film Noir Reader series (all available from Limelight Editions), Noir Style, and L.A. Noir. He is also a noted DVD commentator, having done over a dozen commentaries for both Fox and Warner Bros. Mr. Ursini has written for various magazines as well as film journals. He has a doctorate from UCLA and teaches in Los Angeles. He is at present writing a noir novel. To order The Modern Amazons, use this link to Amadeus Press.

Virginia Grey (1917-2004)


Virginia Grey, one MGM's lovliest, but underused leading ladies of the late '30s and '40s, died in Woodland Hills, California on August 1 of heart failure. She was 87.

She was was born in Los Angeles on March 22, 1917, and was exposed to the film industry at a very young age. Her father, Ray Grey, was a Keystone Cop and acted in several other of Mack Sennett's comedies with the likes of Mabel Normand, Dorothy Gish and Ben Turpin. When her father died when she was still a child, Virginia's mother encouraged her to join the acting game and audition for the role of Eva for Uncle Tom's Cabin, a big budget picture for Universal Studios in the day. She won the role, and acted in a few more pictures at the studio: The Michigan Kid and Heart to Heart (both 1928), before she decided to temporarily leave acting to finish her schooling.

She returned to films after graduating from high school, and after bouncing around Hollywood doing bits for various studios, she hooked up with MGM in 1938. Her roles in her first few films were fairly non-descript: In Test Pilot and Ladies in Distress (both 1938), she did little more than look pretty, but in the following year she had scene-stealing parts in The Women (upstaging Joan Crawford in a delicious scene as a wisecracking perfume counter girl) and as the suffering heroine in Another Thin Man (both 1939).

Despite her versatility (she could handle comedy or drama with equal effectiveness), MGM would cast her in some above-average, but hardly starmaking movies: Whistling in the Dark, The Big Store (both 1941), and Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942). She left MGM in 1943 and became a freelance actress for several studios, but her material as a leading lady throughout the '40s were mediocre: Swamp Fire, House of Horrors (both 1946), and Mexican Hayride (1948) were sadly the more interesting films in her post-MGM period. But by the '50s she was a well-established character actress, appearing in fairly big-budget pictures: All That Heaven Allows, The Rose Tattoo (both 1955), Jeanne Eagels (1957).

In the '60s, Grey turned to television and found work on a variety of hit shows: Wagon Train, Peter Gunn, Bonanza, My Three Sons, I Spy, and several others; plus she also captured a a couple of notable supporting parts in these films: Madame X (1966), and Airport (1970), before retiring completely from acting in the early '70s. She is survived by her sister, Lorraine Grey Heindorf, two nieces and two nephews.

by Michael T. Toole

Virginia Grey (1917-2004)

Virginia Grey, one MGM's lovliest, but underused leading ladies of the late '30s and '40s, died in Woodland Hills, California on August 1 of heart failure. She was 87. She was was born in Los Angeles on March 22, 1917, and was exposed to the film industry at a very young age. Her father, Ray Grey, was a Keystone Cop and acted in several other of Mack Sennett's comedies with the likes of Mabel Normand, Dorothy Gish and Ben Turpin. When her father died when she was still a child, Virginia's mother encouraged her to join the acting game and audition for the role of Eva for Uncle Tom's Cabin, a big budget picture for Universal Studios in the day. She won the role, and acted in a few more pictures at the studio: The Michigan Kid and Heart to Heart (both 1928), before she decided to temporarily leave acting to finish her schooling. She returned to films after graduating from high school, and after bouncing around Hollywood doing bits for various studios, she hooked up with MGM in 1938. Her roles in her first few films were fairly non-descript: In Test Pilot and Ladies in Distress (both 1938), she did little more than look pretty, but in the following year she had scene-stealing parts in The Women (upstaging Joan Crawford in a delicious scene as a wisecracking perfume counter girl) and as the suffering heroine in Another Thin Man (both 1939). Despite her versatility (she could handle comedy or drama with equal effectiveness), MGM would cast her in some above-average, but hardly starmaking movies: Whistling in the Dark, The Big Store (both 1941), and Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942). She left MGM in 1943 and became a freelance actress for several studios, but her material as a leading lady throughout the '40s were mediocre: Swamp Fire, House of Horrors (both 1946), and Mexican Hayride (1948) were sadly the more interesting films in her post-MGM period. But by the '50s she was a well-established character actress, appearing in fairly big-budget pictures: All That Heaven Allows, The Rose Tattoo (both 1955), Jeanne Eagels (1957). In the '60s, Grey turned to television and found work on a variety of hit shows: Wagon Train, Peter Gunn, Bonanza, My Three Sons, I Spy, and several others; plus she also captured a a couple of notable supporting parts in these films: Madame X (1966), and Airport (1970), before retiring completely from acting in the early '70s. She is survived by her sister, Lorraine Grey Heindorf, two nieces and two nephews. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

You're so resourceful, darling, I ought to go to you for plots.
- Nancy Blake
You ought to go to someone.
- Sylvia Fowler
He almost stood me up for his wife.
- Crystal Allen
Chin up.
- Nancy Blake
Right, both of them.
- Miriam Aarons
You can't trust none of 'em no further than I can kick this lemon pie.
- Maggie
What are you, pet?
- Sylvia Fowler
What nature abhors. I am an old maid, a frozen asset.
- Nancy Blake

Trivia

There are over 130 roles in this movie, all played by women. Phyllis Povah, Marjorie Main, Mary Cecil and Marjorie Wood originated their roles in the play, which opened on 7 September 1937 and had 666 performances at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York. No doubles were used in the fight sequence where Rosalind Russell bites Paulette Goddard. Despite the permanent scar resulting from the bite, the actresses remained friends.

Though many people view Joan Crawford as the "bad girl" of the movie, Clare Boothe, who wrote the play that the film was based on, sympathized most with Crystal Allen, Crawford's character.

In addition to its all-female cast, every animal that was used in the film (the many dogs and horses) was female as well. In addition, none of the works of art seen in the backgrounds were representative of the male form.

Sydney's, the beauty salon where the initial action takes place, was named after Sydney Guilaroff, the chief hairstylist at MGM from 1934 to the late 1970s. He was brought to MGM from New York at the request of Joan Crawford.

According to her autobiography, Rosalind Russell called in sick because Norma Shearer refused to share top billing. She stayed "sick" until Shearer finally relented.

Notes

The title card of the film reads The Women "as presented for 666 performances in its Triumphant run at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, New York." According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, in 1937, Max Gordon and Harry M. Goetz of Max Gordon Plays and Pictures Corporation (the company that produced the Broadway play) signed Gregory LaCava to direct Claudette Colbert in a motion picture version of The Women. Hollywood Reporter news items from 1938 note that M-G-M purchased the play as a vehicle for Norma Shearer, who was to be directed by Clarence Brown, and that Ilka Chase was originally slated for the role of Sylvia Fowler. In the opening cast credits, photographs of animals dissolve into photographs of the actresses to suggest their analagous natures. Thus, an image of a deer dissolves into the image of Norma Shearer, a lamb into Joan Fontaine, a black cat into Rosalind Russell, a lion into Joan Crawford, a wolf into Paulette Goddard, etc. According to studio publicity contained in the Production Files at the AMPAS Library, the cast consisted of 135 women and no men. Even the animals appearing in the film were female. In addition to its cast of sound film stars, the picture also boasted a large roster of silent film actresses, such as Maude Allen, Flora Finch and Nell Craig. Phyllis Povah reprised her Broadway role as Edith for this film.
       The fashion show was shot in color, using the Technicolor process. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, this combination of color and black and white photography in the same shot was a technical innovation. Another item in Hollywood Reporter adds that the film was also innovative in it use of "light charts" which mapped out the lighting arrangements for each actor. Developed by photographer Oliver Marsh, the chart cut set-up time by twenty percent. M-G-M publicity notes that no doubles were used in the fight sequence in which Rosalind Russell bites Paulette Goddard. In interviews, Russell stated that Goddard suffered a permanent scar from the bite, but that the two actresses remained friends.
       A modern source has alleged that George S. Kaufman either ghost wrote the entire play or rewrote Luce's original version. In 1956, M-G-M produced The Opposite Sex, which was also based on the Clare Boothe Luce play, starring June Allyson, Joan Collins, Joan Blondell, Ann Miller and Agnes Moorehead and directed by David Miller. Unlike the 1940 version, the 1956 film featured men in the cast.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1939

Released in USA on video.

Released in United States 1939