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Sunday, June 8, 2008

THE WOMEN (1939)

Claire Booth Luce’s loathsome play gets the all-star M-G-M treatment . . . and how. Director George Cukor, still licking his wounds from that little Selznick Civil War drama, does what he can with Anita Loos & Jane Murfin’s slight improvements to the script, but you can’t alter the basic contempt Luce has for her little foxes. Norma Shearer nobly holds the heel of her palm to her forehead, Roz Russell shrieks & looks imposingly tall while Joan Fontaine is ditsy & looks impossibly lovely. While poor Joan Crawford, as the no-class working girl (she steals hubbies and then cheats on her prey) doesn’t even rate a decent hairdo. Fortunately, Act II takes us off to Reno where Paulette Goddard, Marjorie Main and the great Mary Boland bring some real comic timing to the ersatz material. ‘THE WOMEN . . . it’s all about Men’ was the original tag-line. And in Luce's anti-feminist farce, damned if it isn’t the case.

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