Movie Mirrors Index

The Women

(1939 b 132')

En: 7 Ed: 7


Based on Clare Boothe Luce's play, women gossip about the affairs and divorces of each other.

Sylvia (Rosalind Russell) calls Edith (Phyllis Povah) about Mary's husband stepping out. Mary Haines (Norma Shearer) tells her daughter Mary (Virginia Weidler) about her honeymoon. Sylvia, writer Nancy (Florence Nash), Edith, and Peggy (Joan Fontaine) chatter at Mary's house. From a manicurist Mary learns that her husband Stephen is seeing Crystal. Mary's mother Mrs. Moorehead (Lucile Watson) consoles her and advises her to say nothing. Mary's husband cancels their dates, and Mary says she is going to Bermuda. Crystal Allen (Joan Crawford) learns that Stephen is not coming for dinner but says it is her birthday. Sylvia and Edith shop for perfume from Crystal and mention Mary and Stephen. Mary and her mother show little Mary a film of Bermuda. Mary and Sylvia attend a fashion show, and they see Crystal order a nightgown. Sylvia urges Mary to talk to Crystal and says little Mary was kissing Crystal. Mary tells Crystal not to see her daughter or her husband, but Crystal is defiant. Sylvia does exercises, and Peggy joins her. Edith says that Sylvia told a reporter that Mary hit Crystal. The maid Jane (Muriel Hutchison) describes the quarrel between Mary and Stephen. Mary packs, and her mother says not to divorce. Mary signs papers and tells little Mary she is getting divorced and that Mary will live with her.

Crying Peggy takes the train to Reno with Mary, who meets Countess Flora (Mary Boland) and Miriam Aarons (Paulette Goddard). Flora is divorcing her fourth husband. In Reno Lucy (Marjorie Main) celebrates with Flora and Miriam, who says she knows Sylvia's husband. Mary got her divorce, and Sylvia arrives, learning that her husband is going to marry Miriam. Sylvia and Miriam fight until they are restrained by Mary and Flora. Sylvia says she hates Mary and breaks dishes. Peggy says she is going to have a baby. Mary calls Peggy's husband; Peggy tells him, and they are reconciled. Mary tells Miriam that she won't compromise, but Miriam calls her a coward for running away. Mary gets a call from Stephen, who has married Crystal. Mary cries.

Eighteen months later bored Crystal in a bath gets a call from her lover. Little Mary comes in, and Crystal complains. Sylvia tells Crystal that Stephen has a guilt complex and learns that Crystal has a private phone; her man is singer Buck Winston. Before a party Flora says she suspects her husband Buck. Little Mary comes in to sleep with Mary and says that Stephen is miserable with Crystal. Mary goes to the party and tells Sylvia she gets her secrets from Crystal. Sylvia says that Crystal has Buck. Sylvia is locked in a closet. Flora cries that Buck insulted her. Crystal comes in and blames Sylvia but learns that Buck's money comes from Flora. Crystal sighs she will go back to a shop, and Mary happily runs out to Stephen.

This all-women comedy depicts how female relationships are changing with more divorces. Mary and Peggy realize they still love their husbands; Flora has money and seeks love with changing partners, while Crystal seeks money by using her beauty, and Sylvia has more gossip than the columnist.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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