The female of the species goes jungle red in tooth and claw in this brilliant screen adaptation by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin from Claire Boothe Luce's famous Broadway play--a wickedly funny portrait of 1930s society women whose lives revolve around beauty treatments, luncheons, fashion shows, and each other's men. Socialite Mary Haines is the envy of her set: rich, beautiful, and happily married... but when her husband steps out on her with a gold-digging perfume counter sales clerk, Mary's so-called friends dish enough dirt to make divorce inevitable whether Mary wants it or not.
It also shows the values and thinking about women's roles at that time; but challenges them at the same time. As embodied by Mary's mother-in-law, there's a feeling of "boys will be boys" and the thought that even though her husband is playing around (for no good reason given - they seem to be a happy couple), Mary should let him get his "wild oats" out of his system, and look the other way. On the other hand, it shows a rich and varied view of all types of women, intelligent, catty, gentle, vicious, etc. They are not necessarily defined by the men in their lives - who are not shown. It actually shows the women ultimately deciding how their men will live - and with whom.
George Cukor always had that reputation as a women's director and this film with the obvious title probably is what gave him that reputation. The Women takes a lot of its edge also from the real life situation at MGM. Norma Shearer, being the widow of Irving Thalberg, was the dowager queen of the lot and she still got the first pick of dramatic parts. The rest got Shearer's leavings, especially Joan Crawford. That led to a lot of resentment around MGM.
Among the supporting cast look for good performances from Joan Fontaine as the young and shy divorcée, Mary Boland as the scatterbrained Zsa Zsa Gabor of the day, Paulette Goddard who gets Russell's goat, her man, and the best of her in a chick fight and Marjorie Main as the wisecracking owner of a Reno dude ranch where the women stay when they're shedding their mates.
“The Women” is a wonderful catty, witty, hilarious movie