Although one could have fun imagining a film in which Rosalind Russell and Joan Crawford are simply tossed into a tiger cage and fight to the death, the 1939 film The Women will do just fine in its stead. Adapted from the hit stage play by Clare Booth Luce, it's a gabby, urbane comedy that takes a (for its time, especially) steadfast look at adultery, divorce, and why men court idiocy with such abandon. It also takes its title quite seriously, with not a single male appearing onscreen.
The film is powered by a can't-miss trio of top-line actresses, all playing to their strengths. Norma Shearer is the gentle and naïve Mary Haines, whose husband Stephen has been stepping out on her with Crystal Allen (Crawford, at 35 maybe a little long in the tooth to play a perfume counter girl, but you try telling her that...), a fact that is known to everybody in New York save Mary due to the gossipy efforts of Sylvia Fowler (Russell, firing on all bitchy cylinders). It's a slow build-up to Mary's discovery of the truth, with an intricate elaboration of the social circle she runs in and the backstabbing that it's rife with - her purported friends making absolutely sure that not only does she find out the awful truth, but that they're there to witness her reaction.
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