"I knew it was dangerous for me to play Crystal, but I couldn't resist." - Joan Crawford
"The Women" 1939
This page is dedicated to an old friend, Chris Hosman. You gave me a picture of Roz when I left Boston
Cast: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford (as Crystal Allen), Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland, Paulette Goddard, Phyllis Povah, Joan
Fontaine, Virginia Weidler, Lucile Watson, Florence Nash, Muriel Hutchinson, Esther Dale, Ann Moriss, Ruth Hussey, Dennie
Moore, Mary Cecil, Mary Beth Hughes, Virginia Grey, Marjorie Main, Cora Witherspoon, Hedda Hopper.
Crystal Allen (Joan) is a shopgirl having an affair with the husband of Mary Haines (Norma Shearer). When Sylvia (Rosalind
Russell) and Edith (Phyllis Povah) overhear the rumor in the beauty salon, they can't bring themselves to break the news to
the innocent Mary so they arrange for her to overhear the gossip with her own ears. Fleeing to Reno for a divorce, Mary meets
a Countess (Mary Boland) and Miriam (Paulette Goddard) all of who are having man trouble of their own.
George Cukor was labeled, 'The Women's Director' and in his film, aptly titled, "The Women," he made sure he lived
up to his reputation. There are an amazing number of female coincidences here - One hundred and thirty-five actresses were
used in the film, all the animals that were featured in the film, were all female and the artwork seen in the backgrounds
of various scenes, were all paintings of the female form. [www.afi.com].
Sydney's, the beauty salon where the initial action takes place, was named after Sydney Guilaroff, the chief hairstylist at
MGM from 1934 to the late 1970s. He was brought to MGM from New York at the request of 'Joan Crawford'.
Memorable Quote: Crystal Allen (Joan): "Well, I guess it's back to the perfume counter for me. Oh, and by the way, there's
a name for you ladies, but it isn't used in high society, outside of a kennel."
Movie Mistakes: Continuity: When Crystal is taking her bath she smokes a cigarette, which she eventually throws away. However
when Little Mary enters the bathroom, Crystal is again smoking and we never see her lightning this other cigarette.
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Movie Posters/Lobby Cards etc...
Joan's grandson, Casey LaLonde, says...
Seven years following her role in "Grand Hotel," Joan appears in another excellent ensemble piece, "The Women."
The film is a rather simple mix of adultery, light comedic situations and ultimately vindication for costar Norma Shearer.
It is simply a great film driven by the wonderful screenplay written by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin; based on the play by Clare
Boothe Luce. The dialogue is sharp and quick with not a syllable wasted.
Reviewer, Keith, says...
Big cast and great acting. It was so much fun seeing Joan playing the bitch. In the dressing room scene I thought she was
great and not over the top like so many actresses would've done,(Bette Davis comes to mind). I think it flows easily and everything
fits together. Granted we are talking about Joan Crawford, but Rosalind Russell churns up a good bit with her role. She was
fabulously catty. She kind of walks off with the picture. But only Joan could have played Crystal. I mean let's face it. Who
has the look and the stature? She was gorgeous. I really like her scenes with Norma Shearer. Is it just me or did anyone get
a feeling this was an easy scene for Joan to pull off? I think Joan was confronting not only Shearer's character but the angst
Shearer caused during the MGM days, gobbling up all the plum roles. Crawford could have played her role Mary.. Shearer was
the waste of the movie. I would yawn and bite my toenails for entertainment in her scenes.
Reviewer, Chad Edwards, says...
Anita Loos wrote the script for this tremendously entertaining screen version of Clare Boothe's Broadway hit about cattiness, jealousy and rivalry in a circle of "friends." Norma Shearer heads the all-female cast as a good-natured woman who finds her marriage threatened by a sexy shopgirl. Joan Crawford found quite a change of pace in the role of bitchy homewrecker Crystal Allen. An actress of highly unique talents, Crawford managed to bring sympathy to her character, certainly no small achievement. Other players worthy of note are Rosalind Russell as the motormouth Sylvia; Paulette Goddard as Miriam, the divorcee who takes up with Sylvia's man and Phyllis Povah, repeating her Broadway role as the perennially pregnant Edith. THE WOMEN was the beginning of a very successful partnership for director George Cukor and Joan Crawford: they would work together on two other MGM classics, SUSAN AND GOD and A WOMAN'S FACE. Metro remade THE WOMEN in 1956 as THE OPPOSITE SEX, this time adding men, musical numbers, and Technicolor. It's a respectable updating of the classic film; however, it cannot top the original.
Reviewer, Chris Hosman, says...
This film is over-flowing with star power. The combination of females make it a must-see for any Crawford fan. Joan plays "the other woman" pitted against Shearer as the "perfect wife". The scenes between the two crackle with energy, which is often fanned to a magnificent flame by the catty, chatty, back-stabbing friend played to the hilt by Roz Russell. Joan lobbied for the part and one can easily see why. The part of Crystal was something Crawford could sink her teeth into and play at her bitchy best. The script is flawless, the cast is perfection, and the Adrian gowns should share equal billing with the stars who don them. Joan held her own in the star-studded Grand Hotel, but she dominates this film outright.
Reviewer, babyc22_5, says...
I thought the movie was great - one of Crawford's greatest movies. It was a bit strange not seeing any men in the movie. It was a great all-star cast and every entertaining and I thought Rosalind Russell was extremely funny and Joan plyed the bitch Cystal Allen extremely well too, well to be honest, they all played their characters very well and I'm so glad I saw it when I did.
Frank Nugent of the New York Times had this to say, "Miss Crawford is as hard as nails in the Crystal Allen role, which
is as it should be."
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