The Women (1939)

One of the best films of Hollywood’s annus mirabilis, 1939, this adaptation of Clare Boothe Luce’s play actually improves on the original, thanks to a knowing script from Anita Loos and Jane Murfin, a sterling cast, George Cukor’s graceful direction and the MGM production machine. Publicity made much of the fact that the entire cast, down to the animals, was female. Supposedly, even the books dressing the shelves on the sumptuous sets were by female authors. Later critics complained that the story of a society woman who lets her friends’ malicious gossip ruin her marriage presents a distinctly male view of women’s lives. At the same time, they have to acknowledge the strong performances of a cast including Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, Marjorie Main and, in a scene-stealing performance that established her as a top comedienne, Rosalind Russell. Historians have noted that not only were Shearer, Crawford, Goddard and Fontaine all candidates to play Scarlett O’Hara, but Cukor was given the project as a consolation prize after being fired from GONE WITH THE WIND (1939). This brand new restoration of this classic brings new life to what is already the liveliest of films.

Dir. George Cukor

In attendance: Anna Kendrick