The Women - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Women Reviews

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August 11, 2016
They talk really fast, but once you get into the rhythm this movie is one of my top movies to watch.
½ July 8, 2016
Sure would be nice if there were a little less melodrama within the constraints of wicked 1939 comedy "The Women," but because the quips (written by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin) are so cutting and because the majority of the acting is rooted in survival-of-the-fittest cattiness, I'm okay with the occasional - scratch that, too frequent - stooping to schmaltz. For the most part, this females only screwball affair is a highbrow one, dressed to the nines in big-budget hedonism, and, more importantly, an ensemble of actresses that ranges from noble to knot-headed to devious. Imperfect it is - it's not nearly as mean-spirited as one craving glamorous acidity would like - but "The Women" is a whip-smart, ahead-of-its-time sizzler in a Hollywood then (and still) dominated by the opposite sex.
Directed by George Cukor, a filmmaker renowned for being a "women's director," "The Women" stars the plenty genteel Norma Shearer as Mary Haines, an affluent housewife more disposed to partaking in leisure activities and attending hoity-toity social gatherings than tend to her home. She spends her days gossiping, hanging out at luxurious spas, and observing lush fashion shows with a clique of high society dames, most notably with Sylvia Fowler (Rosalind Russell), a fast-talking big-mouth who seems to care more about digging dirt than the finer things in life.
Mary lives a comfortable existence, to say the least, and her domestic stability is just as rewarding. She's been happily married to her husband for years, and her daughter (Virginia Weidler) is a chirpy one that does the right thing and is more than willing to mind her parents. But idealism is only bound to last a short while, and Mary's cushy (if predictable) life comes crashing down when it's accidentally revealed that her spouse is cheating on her. The other woman, upsettingly, is a malicious shopgirl (Joan Crawford) who cares more about social status than actual love.
Going against the spirit of the film's biting attitude, Mary is crushed rather than spiteful, figuring that it'd be finer to win back her husband than look for love elsewhere, or, even better, get sloppy revenge. So after discovering her mister's infidelity, she gathers up her pals and considers what course of action to take next, eventually deciding that packing up her bags and catering to her stormy emotions will be the best thing to remind her husband what a catch she was when they first started courting.
But how boring "The Women" is when it teeters toward women's picture drama. Though Shearer, always a fetching go-to as a straight man and dependable good girl, is meant to be the moral commodity to prove that the film is more than its snappy lines and cutthroat catfights, she's instead the weakest link to an otherwise scintillating comedy. When the movie isn't revolving around the trials and tribulations of its protagonist, it's a terrifically witty hoot: Russell, screwball's grande dame (next to Carole Lombard), is beyond fantastic as the film's most reliable laugh machine, and Crawford, who can deliver a coy insult like no one's business ("There's a name for you ladies," she smirks after her villainous character is finally told off. "But it isn't used in high society ... outside of a kennel"), is deliriously fun to hate.
So when "The Women's" kidding around and flinging around one-liners generously and embodying frivolity, that's when it becomes the stinging classic it's so widely touted to be. Pretend its flourishes of seriousness don't exist and you have a showcase for some of the Hollywood Golden Age's most ferocious leading ladies.
½ May 19, 2016
Super boring. Super Talky. The fast paced talking and the annoying voices are as comprehensible as the story.
March 10, 2016
The idea of a film from the 1930s that focuses in 100% on women (without a single male in the cast) is great, and probably was shocking in its time. I love the fact that they bring together many of the most famous female stars of the era, because you can constantly be reminded of the other brilliant films they starred in. The problem is the events in this film paint a fairly depressing picture of how women were viewed and what life was like for them in that time. It's more than 2 hours of gossip, and cat fights, and pining over men. Of course we also have to see them doing household chores, and getting their nails done. I realize some of this could be perfectly accurate for certain groups of women, especially considering the time period, but just because it's authentic doesn't mean it's fun to watch. There's a couple of women at the core of the story who could have been in a really interesting film, but since they are surrounded by a non-stop chorus of bickering and gossiping I just wanted to plug my ears. Even the one aspect that made the movie interesting (women only) was undercut and cheapened because they basically spent every moment of the film talking about men in one way or another. They even have a scene with a man occur off-screen and just have some eavesdropper retell the dialogue they plucked from the man's mouth. It's a movie entirely populated by women that almost doesn't pass the Bechdel test. In my opinion The Women is a noble concept executed poorly, and I would recommend you avoid it because it's just not worth your time.
½ December 31, 2015
A delightful film written by women with an all-female cast. Cukor delivers another tribute to women and beauty. I wish I had the breezy confidence of Norma Shearer. I wonder if that is developed from a loving, healthy parental-child attachment or if it comes from being a movie star married to a Hollywood producer and an actress. Or just faith in oneself.
July 30, 2015
A little slow to get going, but well worth it. Brilliant screenplay and acting make this movie a stand out for one-liners and memorable characters. Norma Shearer is as sincere as could be. Rosalind Russell is hilarious, and Joan Crawford is perfect (just wish there was more of her). Mary Boland is especially memorable as the Countess. Some of the dialogue is so fast that a repeat viewing may be necessary to catch all the one-liners.
May 18, 2015
incomparable to the new version, Just greater & a bit deeper & a tad complex
½ April 2, 2015
hilarious. absolutely hilarious.
March 27, 2015
I loved this movie. Funny, moving, and Norma Shearer is wonderful.
March 18, 2015
A surpisingly funny ensemble comedy with sharp, quick-witted dialogue and still relevant commentary on marriage and divorce.
March 15, 2015
I love this original..!!! This movie has an entire cast of only women. All the intrigues of a woman, her relationships, love at different stages, how age is a factor & where we are weak vs where we gain strength. I think this is a good movie for all women... and for men who wish to understand us. Thanks for reading. Enjoy!
February 8, 2015
Women having cat fights over men never looked better than they did in George Cukor's adaptation of Clare Boothe-Luce's hit Broadway play. An all-star cast of actresses (which included the established, the Broadway vets, and the rising in one huge ensemble), 'THE WOMEN' never once seems as if it's aged a bit because its story could very well be placed in a modern setting... "For courting's a pleasure. But parting is grief. And a false-hearted lover. Is worse than a thief"--The female of the species goes jungle red in tooth and claw in this brilliant, wickedly funny portrait of society women whose lives revolve around beauty treatments, luncheons, fashion shows, and each other's men. The script is wickedly, mercilessly funny, fast paced, razor sharp and filled with such memorable invective that you'll be quoting it for weeks and months afterward... No pride at all. That's a luxury love can't afford-Oh, l'amour, l'amour!!
June 12, 2014
Great movie from the golden year of 1939. Rosalind Russell almost steals the movie, but Shearer, Crawford, and the others are outstanding and have their moments. A classic well worth seeing.
January 23, 2014
My Favorite Film Is 1941's Citizen Kane.
December 17, 2013
It is clear that Cukor is a genius in artistic direction and knowledge about women. It is clear that you have a group of excellent actresses (and only actresses) acting, in a movie which shows the great world outside men. But I do not like the general ideas about marriage displayed in the movie, as well as this gossip-universe. So, it is clear Cukor knows what he does, but it doesn´t catch my interest.
November 18, 2013
The 2008 version stunk. I just saw the original for the first time and loved it.
November 17, 2013
Some of the best one liners. Cast is top notch and oh so campy. Should be on every gay man's must see movie list. Love it!
October 13, 2013
The is the only Movie about as viewed by without one man appearing in the movie even as an extra..
August 14, 2013
An innovative stranger comedy stained of class and glamour. The screenplay is one of the greatest ever written and the Technicolor sequence contributes some kind of magic to the film. Joan Crawford makes one of the best performances of her career, as well as Norma Shearer. Maybe, the most outstanding acting comes from Rosalind Russell, who gets herself a name as one of the greatest female comedians of her time. It is a very entertaining and funny movie to watch.
½ August 4, 2013
The groundbreaking gimmick of this vintage George Cukor film is its female-inclusive cast, a bitch-fest orbits around the admiration of their off-screen male counterparts, it is a cornucopia of malicious gossips, cloying feminine bonds, fierce squabbles with vicious innuendoes, and culminates with a tit-for-tat machination to win back a man's heart.

My tone sounds disparaging, but the film is a hoot to watch, gathering 3 divas, several starlets and many old stagers (all main characters have their respective animal analogs indicate their dispositions before the film starts), Shearer is a worthy leading actress here, notwithstanding the fact that her character is a morally upright woman who may be too perfect to exemplify as a true-to-life impersonation, Shearer's sincerity and grace alone can effortlessly win over audiences' heart and against the grain the magnificence of her id outshines the alter ego on screen and retains the limelight.

Crawford is the anti-heroine, a manipulative home-wrecker owns every second during her presence, could be her stock-of-trade by hindsight, but how can one not relish the sparkling confrontations between her and Shearer when words are still able to kill. The last but not the least of the trinity is Russell, a snooty socialite falls into utter caricature, a loudmouth and busybody, oscillates between her chameleon-like affinities (either to Shearer or to Crawford), she might be the most dangerous creature among all the distaff.

Then among secondary tier, a drop-dead gorgeous Fontaine is the romantic dreamer, a reverential Boland is the undying love-pursuer, an elegant and witty Goddard is the tactful helper, then a worldly and sensible Watson is the mother who gives appropriate advice when it is needed, and a lovable and juvenile Weidler pulls through an empathetic daughter-mother rapport between her and Shearer.

A vivid dissection of vicissitudes on Park Avenue, the film may not be able to be connected to the huddled mass, and its thematic POV "pride is a luxury a woman in love cannot afford" might not be align with today's viewpoint, THE WOMEN still has its unique value in spearheading a paradigm shifting experiment (although ironically women are without exception subordinate to their men in the film) to break the shackles which 74 years later unfortunately is still hedging the film business ubiquitously, not to mention the astonishing fashion-show during the midstream (the only color part in this otherwise monochrome artifact), with a retrospective gaze, everything else is a puff, only haute couture relentlessly lasts!
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