The Women is a 1939 American comedy drama film directed by George Cukor. The film is based on Clare Boothe Luce’s 1936 play of the same name, and was adapted for the screen by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin, who had to make the film acceptable for the Production Code for it to be released.
The film stars Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, Lucile Watson, Mary Boland, Florence Nash, and Virginia Grey. Marjorie Main and Phyllis Povah also appear, reprising their stage roles from the play. Ruth Hussey, Virginia Weidler, Butterfly McQueen, and Hedda Hopper also appear in smaller roles.
The film continued the play’s all-female tradition—the entire cast of more than 130 speaking roles was female. Set in the glamorous Manhattan apartments of high society evoked by Cedric Gibbons, and in Reno, Nevada, where they obtain their divorces, it presents an acidic commentary on the pampered lives and power struggles of various rich, bored wives and other women they come into contact with.
Filmed in black and white, it includes a six-minute fashion parade filmed in Technicolor, featuring Adrian’s most outré designs; often cut in modern screenings, it has been restored by Turner Classic Movies. On DVD, the original black-and-white fashion show, which is a different take, is available for the first time.
Throughout The Women, not a single male character is seen or heard. The attention to detail was such that even in props such as portraits, only female figures are represented, and several animals which appeared as pets were also female. The only exceptions are a poster-drawing of a bull in the fashion show segment, a framed portrait of Stephen Haines as a boy, a figurine on Mary’s night stand, and an advertisement on the back of the magazine Peggy reads at Mary’s house before lunch that contains a photograph of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.