The Women

1939

The Women

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

92%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 25

88%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,612
User image

Watch it now

The Women Photos

Movie Info

Mary Haines (Norma Shearer) can't believe her husband's having an affair with salesgirl Crystal (Joan Crawford). But when Sylvia (Rosalind Russell) and Edith (Phyllis Povah) deliver the gossip firsthand, Mary heads to Reno for a divorce. En route she meets Countess de Lave (Mary Boland) and Miriam (Paulette Goddard), who coincidentally is having an affair with Sylvia's husband. Once in Reno, the Countess finds another beau, Sylvia shows up for a divorce and Mary plots to win back her man.

Cast

Norma Shearer
as Mary Haines
Joan Crawford
as Chrystal Allen
Rosalind Russell
as Sylvia Fowler
Joan Fontaine
as Peggy Day
Mary Boland
as Countess DeLave
Paulette Goddard
as Miriam Aarons
Lucile Watson
as Mrs. Moorehead
Phyllis Povah
as Edith Potter
Florence Nash
as Nancy Blake
Virginia Weidler
as Little Mary
Ruth Hussey
as Miss Watts
Margaret Dumont
as Mrs. Wagstaff
Mary Cecil
as Maggie
Hedda Hopper
as Dolly Dupuyster
Mildred Shay
as Helene the French Maid
Priscilla Lawson
as Hairdresser
Estelle Etterre
as Hairdresser
Ann Morriss
as Exercise Instructor
Mary Beth Hughes
as Miss Trimmerback
Cora Witherspoon
as Mrs. Van Adams
Charlotte Treadway
as Her Companion
Virginia Howell
as Receptionist
Barbara Jo Allen
as Receptionist
May Beatty
as Fat Woman
May Hale
as Mud Mask
Ruth Findlay
as Podiatrist
Charlotte Wynters
as Miss Batchelor
Aileen Pringle
as Miss Carter
Florence Shirley
as Miss Archer
Hilda Plowright
as Miss Fordyce
Mariska Aldrich
as Singing Teacher
Leila McIntyre
as Woman Wwith Bundles
Dot Farley
as Large Woman
Flora Finch
as Woman Window Tapper
Renie Riano
as Saleswoman
Grace Goodall
as Head Saleswoman
Lilian Bond
as Mrs. Erskine
Winifred Harris
as Mrs. North
Carolyn Hughes
as Salesgirl at Modiste Salon
Grace Hayle
as Cyclist
Maude Allen
as Cyclist
Butterfly McQueen
as Lulu, Cosmetics Counter Maid
Natalie Moorhead
as Woman in Modiste Salon
Jo Ann Sayers
as Debutante
Carole Lee Kilby
as Theatrical Child
Lita Chevret
as Woman Under Sunlamps
Dora Clement
as Woman Under Sunlamps
Ruth Alder
as Woman Under Sunlamps
Marie Blake
as Stock Room Girl
Dorothy Adams
as Miss Atkinson
Carol Hughes
as Salesgirl at Modiste Salon
Peggy Shannon
as Mrs. Jones
Josephine Whittell
as Mrs. Spencer
Rita Gould
as Dietician
Dennie Moore
as Olga, Manicurist
Gertrude Simpson
as Stage Mother
Betty Blythe
as Mrs. South
Lillian Bond
as Mrs. Erskine
View All

News & Interviews for The Women

Critic Reviews for The Women

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (23) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for The Women

  • Nov 16, 2017
    The concept and execution is very much of its time. (Other timely examples of comedy of manners include The Philadelphia Story and Trouble in Paradise.) The film featured all of MGM's biggest female stars: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Paulette Goddard, Rosalind Russell, and Joan Fontaine. The story focuses on Mary Haines (Shearer) a wealthy wife and mother who discovers that her husband is cheating on her with a perfume girl (Crawford). Mary then decides to divorce him, goes to Reno to get said divorce (since this is 1939), and the rest of the film features partner switching, infidelity, scandal, and intrigue as other female characters face the same issues as Mary and her daughter. Though the casting gimmick makes for an interesting watch, and the film does focus on basic issues that women have, it's not revolutionary. The women all depend on men. Their issues all stem from men. Their livelihoods, interests, careers, and aspirations are constantly linked to the men around them, even though they are completely unseen. Even when the women are alone, men are their only obligation. Perhaps Clara Boothe Luce and screenwriter Anita Loos were trying to slipin some commentary about the lack of agency in women's lives. A more likely explanation is that executives thought a film solely about women wouldn't interest anyone unless it was solely about finding and keeping men. The one scene that is supposedly solely intended just for women viewers is a fashion show, which is the only color section of the entire film. Director George Cukor hated it so much that he tried to have it cut from the film. It definitely feels forced and kind of patronizing, since the entire sequence is a lengthy 10 minutes, and it does nothing for the plot. It's as if the film doesn't trust women to be entertained by wit and humor, and decided we needed a palette cleanser, which is obviously ridiculous. What the original has over all subsequent remakes is a sense of poise and sophistication. Norma Shearer wins because she is a woman of substance, who cannot be replaced by the sultry Joan Crawford. Shearer was clean and concise, and she was known as an actress for her historical roles up until the advent of Turner Classic Movies. Any remake is going to be subpar, because this is a film very much of its time, and we no longer possess the same views on sexuality, marriage, equality, or feminism that we did in the Depression era 1930s. Of course, this didn't stop the 2008 remake from happening.
    Spencer S Super Reviewer
  • Nov 29, 2016
    If you're having a little trouble following all of the chatter in the beginning of the movie, with what seems like too many characters and too much talking, just bear with it. The movie settles down nicely, and deals with the age old problem of infidelity. It has the interesting distinction of having a completely all-female cast, as well as quite a bit of star power. Norma Shearer is sweet and natural as always, and Joan Crawford plays her husband's mistress perfectly, with just the right amount of deviousness. Add Rosaline Russell and Joan Fontaine among others, and have them parade around in both high fashion, so well put together, as well as in exercise clothing at the spa, and wow, it's just a pretty film to watch. Oh, and while most of the film is in black and white, there is a fantastic six-minute fashion show in the middle which breaks into full color. The film had to conform to the dreaded Code, but it treats the subject of adultery more bluntly than I would have expected for 1939. When Shearer's character finds out about it, it's interesting to watch her mother's advice, which boils down to ignoring it because most men stray, including her father. I also loved Cukor's shot of Russell telling Shearer what to do, her bossy image appearing in 3 mirrors behind the stricken Shearer. There are some silly scenes here and there, the film gets a little sidetracked now and then, and I wasn't a big fan of the ending, but it's well worth watching.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 16, 2013
    If the film was entirely just fast talking rich women in ridiculous outfits hurling insults at each other (as its advertised to be), I'd probably like it more. The problem is all the melodrama and weird tone shifts of the middle section. The color fashion show is one of the most absurdly unnecessary scenes I've ever seen.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 27, 2010
    MUCH MUCH better than the new one!...I love Joan Crawfords dress @ the end scene
    Morgan S Super Reviewer

The Women Quotes

News & Features