Cast & Crew
Henry Pepper, top writer for Knickerbocker magazine, is assigned to write a profile on Carol Ainsley, who has been named the outstanding career woman of the year. Carol, a super agent and star-maker, has just scooped her competition by selling the movie rights to the romance novel Whirlwind and is spending a fortune to find the perfect actor to play the male lead. When Carol learns that the book's author, Anthony Street, may be the man to play his own hero, she searches him out and discovers that he is actually Professor Michael Cobb of Buxton College. Although handsome and blonde, the professor is an intellectual snob immersed in Elizabethan literature, and consequently, is horrifed when he is exposed as the writer of a romance novel. While at Buxton, Carol gets Michael in trouble with the faculty and convinces him to accompany her to New York. There she takes over his life, arranging for lessons in comportment and charm. Michael is a failure at speaking the romantic words he wrote, however, and after his screen test proves a dismal failure, he decides to return to Buxton. Henry, meanwhile, has become intrigued by Carol and has decided that she would be terrific if she developed her human side more. Intending to see if she has anything other than a dollar sign for a heart, Henry contacts Michael and convinces the professor that he is in love with Carol. While radiating the charm and assurance that Carol has taught him, Michael begins to court her. Their courtship becomes headline news, and although she is not in love with him, Carol is afraid to tell him the truth for fear that he might walk out on his contract. Henry is thoroughly enjoying Carol's predicament until he kisses her and begins to fall in love with her himself. When Carol tries to trick Michael into going to Hollywood while she takes refuge at her father's house in Washington, D.C., Michael outsmarts her, follows her home and announces their engagement. Thus trapped, Carol agrees to the marriage. On the eve of the wedding, the guests are socializing in the various rooms of the Ainsley house when Carol, angry at Henry for agreeing to be the best man, goes to his room to confront him. After Henry insults Carol and accuses her of being only a "ten percent woman," she slaps him, runs into the hallway and announces that she is calling off the wedding because she is not in love with Michael and refuses to be married just for the sake of business. Henry listens to her speech in admiration, and when she finishes, she rushes into his arms.
Hal K. Dawson
Van Nest Polglase
M. W. Stoloff
What a Woman!
One of Rosalind Russell's specialties early in her career was portraying self-sufficient career women with no time for romance, which made the role of Carol perfectly suited to the four-time Academy Award-nominated actress. Co-star Brian Aherne called Russell "brilliant" in his 1969 autobiography A Proper Job and adored working with her. In fact, What a Woman! was the third romantic comedy that Russell and Aherne made together. Their first two films, Hired Wife (1940) and My Sister Eileen (1942), had been solid box office hits, and the pair exuded a winning chemistry on screen.
What a Woman! also features an impressive roster of veteran character actors in small roles including Mary Forbes (Houseboat ), Ann Shoemaker (Sunrise at Campobello ), and Norma Varden (The Sound of Music ). Future starlet and two-time Academy Award winner Shelley Winters also appears in a blink-and-you-miss-it uncredited role as a secretary in the background.
Viewers will enjoy this vibrant wartime comedy with the great Rosalind Russell delivering an energetic performance with her usual wit and sophistication. Russell and Aherne would go on to make their fourth and final film together in 1967, the romantic comedy Rosie!
By Andrea Passafiume
What a Woman!
The working title of this film was Ten Percent Woman. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Columbia paid $30,000 for the screen rights to Erik Charell's story. Although a Hollywood Reporter production chart adds Jonathan Hale and Charles Halton to the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Contemporary sources list three different producers for the film. Screen Achievements Bulletin credits Sidney Buchman; a Hollywood Reporter production chart and Film Daily credit P. J. Wolfson and Daily Variety credits Irving Cummings. This picture marked the screen debut of Shelley Winters (1920-2006), whose name was spelled "Shelly Winter" on several of her earliest films. Rosalind Russell reprised her role in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on March 14, 1949, co-starring Robert Cummings. A second Lux adaptation, again starring Russell and Cummings, was broadcast on May 31, 1954.