USA: 1939 -- Directed by George Cukor
Written by Clare Boothe Luce (play), Anita Loos and Jane Murfin (screenplay)
Starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell and Joan Fontaine
There's a name for you ladies, but it isn't used in high society, outside of a kennel.
--Joan Crawford as Crystal Allen
George Cukor, Hollywood's legendary "woman's director," had his hands full with the all-female cast of this 1939 film adaptation of the Clare Boothe play. The story finds a group of catty, competitive friends destroying reputations at social gatherings. The dialogue sparkles, Joan Crawford's performance as a husband stealer is still a classic, the film looks wonderful in Cukor's hands, and the Technicolor fashion-show scene is a one-of-a-kind Hollywood experience.
The ultimate women's movie of the 1930s and a treat from start to finish (for men also), The Women is the picture George Cukor directed after being thrown off Gone With The Wind by Clark Gable (who objected to being given direction by a homosexual). The Women features no men at all and its remarkable ensemble cast (Norma Shearer; Joan Crawford, Joan Fontaine,Rosalind Russell, Paulette Godard, Hedda Hopper and at least one hundred other women) argue, gossip and bitch about each other at astonishing breakneck speed throughout the film.
There is a plot of sorts, but it is basically an excuse for lots of megastars to exchange witty insults with each other. Cukor entered Hollywood when the talkies started as a dialogue director; and this is about as talky as any film I've seen. The dialogue is the star of the film in the same way the dinosaurs are the stars of Jurassic Park.
The Women was in many ways an end to an era. During the 1930s a large majority of the cinema audience was women, and consequently most of the big stars were women. People like Joan Crawford, Katharine Hepburn and Jean Harlow earned far more than their male contemporaries, who were often used as simple, handsome ornamentation, a back-drop to the real action.