The Women | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Women

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Adapted from the celebrated play by Clare Boothe, this glossy 1939 comedy about a pampered set of Manhattan plutocrat wives hasn't lost its satirical edge or bitchy sense of fun. Boothe, a sharp-tongued magazine editor and social climber who married Time publisher Henry Luce, knew well the psychology of women who measure their self-worth by their husbands' wealth and power, and though men are absent from the world of The Women they're still a strong presence. The catty banter and Wildean aphorisms (some of them contributed by Anita Loos) are delivered with impeccable timing by a cast only MGM could have marshaled: Norma Shearer is a wife roiled by her husband's infidelity, Joan Crawford the tough cookie who seduces Shearer's man, Rosalind Russell an eager gossip fond of outrageous hats. George Cukor directed with his characteristic theatricality and love for his actresses, who put on a dazzling show of foolish but endearing behavior tempered by flashes of courage and common sense. With Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, Mary Boland, and Marjorie Main as a wisecracking hick. 132 min. A 35-millimeter print will be shown; film scholar Fred Camper will introduce the film and give a lecture after the screening. Gene Siskel Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Chicago, Tuesday, October 3, 6:00, 312-443-3737.

--Ted Shen

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