What I watched: The Women (1939)
How I watched it: library-rented DVD
Synopsis: The social lives of a circle of friends intersect and are divided by the men these women love or are trying to ensnare.
Why I watched: I have been listening to the You Must Remember This podcast’s Joan Crawford series and while this film is not featured on the list, it was discussed in some detail and sounded like a lot of fun. Also, upon listening to this podcast I’ve come to realize that the only Crawford film’s I’ve seen are Mildred Pierce and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? which were both quite late in her career. I really wanted to see Crawford as the romantic
Notes: I’m not sure if I’ve seen her in anything else either, but Norma Shearer was great in this movie and so was Crawford. Joan Fontaine was annoying. Crawford’s best tigress scene has to have been when she’s soaking in the glass tub bubble bath trying to juggle a conversation with her lover on the phone and her step-daughter outside the door.
For the most part this film was a lot of fun, with that great fast-paced dialogue and levelled conversations I would associate with Cukor and Howard Hawks. The gym/spa scenes stand out to me as being the most interesting because they are dated and almost have a sci-fi quality to them. The fabulous technicolor fashion show reminded me quite a lot of How to Marry a Millionaire.
There is a sequence which takes place in Reno (divorce city!) which was tedious, partially because I liked the metropolitan elements of the film and the Reno sequence is quite country & western. Reno also introduces new characters which are over-the-top (in this film that’s saying quite a lot). Unfortunately the Reno portion can’t be skipped because some plot points unfold there that are vital to the final portion of the film.
The film’s ending was so odd. I can appreciate that they were eliminating all men from sight in the film, but the reunion between Shearer and her husband was lacklustre when she has her arms out to the audience. I wonder if they could have had her embrace a man without seeing his face. Hmm. It was just so odd in an otherwise very slick film.