Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Joan Crawford Week: The Women

Welcome back my fine collective to Day 2 of Joan Crawford Week. Well yesterday we saw the lady of the week in a secondary character role in a dark drama. Hows about this time around we enjoy a comedic drama on relationships, partnerships, love and marriage? Based on an all-woman cast play by author/US Ambassador/feminist Clare Booth Luce (Abide with Me, The Women, Kiss the Boys Goodbye, Margin for Error, Child of the Morning and Slam the Door Softly)comes the tale of Manhattan gals living life to the fullest, some working like dogs while others happy in their surroundings. This is The Women.

A wise notion giving me top photo, Jake.

Our story primarily focuses on Mary Haines (Norma Shearer of The Divorcee, Romeo and Juliet, Marie Antoinetter, Idiot's Delight and Escape) the happy housewife of Stephen and mother to Little Mary (Virginia Weidler of Bad Little Angel, Henry Goes Arizona,The Philadelphia Story, All This, and Heaven Too and Best Foot Forward)who after working around the house and by that I mean everything but walnut blast the wallpaper off and put up new spackle feels that everything is just so and nothing could persuade her to think otherwise...

Meanwhile the ladies of gossip are gabbing it up about an affair happening as Mary's cousin, Sylvia Fowler (Rosalind Russel of Trouble for Two, Night Must Fall, Man-Proof, His Girl Friday, She Wouldn't Say Yes and The Trouble with Angels) is getting her nails done when the manicurist tells her that Mary's husband has been seen gadding it up with a perfume counter girl name of Crystal Allen (Joan Crawford of Possessed, Flamingo Road, Sudden Death, Torch Song and Johnny Guitar).  Sylvia sets Mary up for the same manicurist so she can hear the rumor and get the ball rolling on how best to deal with the double dealing jerk. Mary's mother (Lucile Watson of Made for Each Other, Waterloo Bridge, Watch on the Rhine and Song of the South) urges Mary to forget this nonsense but Mary's suspicions are on the rise when her husband's constant claims of working late seems to be happening far too often. She decides to take a trip to Bermuda with her mom and let the rumors die out and think long and hard at the whole situation.

Upon returning, Mary makes her way to a fashion show she knows Crystal will be at and concludes to confront Crystal about the supposed affair. Crystal is cold and calculating, letting Mary know that he clearly found something in her that Mary could not provide and hints that if Mary wants this to remain on the down low unless she wants a public divorce. Mary, hurt from these comments leave the show. The rumors continue to circulate until it makes its way into the gossip columns and Mary has had enough. With a quickie divorce in the wings, she and Little Mary pack up and head to Reno.

On the train to Reno she encounters a gathering of women heading in the same direction with oddly enough about the same issues. The lovely Countess de Lave (Mary Boland of Ruggles of Red Gap, Six of a Kind, Pride and Prejudice and Julia Misbehaves), her friend Peggy Day (Joan Fontaine of Rebecca, Suspicion, Letter from an Unknown Woman and Ivanhoe) and streetwise chorus girl Miriam Aarons (Paulette Goddard of Modern Times, The Great Dictator, Second Chorus, Babes in Bagdad, Paris Model and The Unholy Four). Settling in at a ranch the ladies' live begin anew, get more hectic and in general are relying on each other to see this through.

A few comments on the film now.

Myrna Loy and Greta Garbo were the only top female stars at MGM that did not star in this movie, it was rumored that Loy was considered for the part of Crystal. The square-cut ring for Mary's wedding band was the most expensive piece of jewelry on the film, worth $175,000 you can imagine how well it was look after. While many view Joan Crawford as the bad girl in the film, Clare Boothe Luce wrote the play to be based around Crystal Allen and not Mary.

Too much high society for me, ladies.