The Women: 1939 to 2008
Remaking the 1939 Claire Booth Luce Classic
Sixty-nine years ago George Cukor made his film rendition of Clair Booth Luce's play The Women. It was a big hit, as was the play.
It was unusual then and now, because the entire cast was women, there was not one man in it, very unusual then and today.
The entire title is, The Women: And Its All About Men. It had to be as the 1939 'Ladies Who Lunch' were totally dependent on the men in their lives both for financial support and for social status. That is not the same in 2008. Women still love and need men, of course, but not for survival as did the women of the first movie. Thus today's is more about love and the original was more about primal survival, making the references to 'jungle red' nail polish more pointed.
I first saw the original years ago and was very annoyed about the seemingly pettiness of the women. I look back now and realize that there was nothing petty at all. Being wives of successful men was their career.
The characters of the same name today have other things in their lives and the movie is more about female relationships with or without the men they want and need.
The Original: Is It The Best, As Good, or Not As Good?
Entertainment with Social Content
Some think they can't or shouldn't mix, but I love it. The original was funny, but also a biting commentary of the upper class society of the Depression as well as the effects on women.
In the remake we see more comment, but 69 years later when so much has changed in women's lives. Can they still be as funny?
The Sharp Wit of Claire Booth Luce
There was something about the more vulnerable position of women 69 years ago that adding an edge to the already sharp wit of Claire Booth Luce. I wouldn't go back to the old days for anything, but there are always loses with gains.
Claire Booth Luce Knew These Women, But Wasn't One of Them
Claire Booth Luce knew these women personally and intimately. As the wife of Henry Luce, founder and owner of Life magazine among others, she rubbed elbows with the 'ladies who lunch', but was never an idle society woman.
Born the 'illegitimate' daughter of show people, she always had an interest in the arts. However, besides writing plays, she was a war correspondent for Life magazine in the early 40's and won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1942.
She was a political conservative, and isolationist who was critical of Roosevelt's foreign policy, but socially was very progressive, or at least lived a life that would not be common to women for decades to come.
In "The Women" we get a glimpse of how she viewed the socialites who were married to or divorced from her husband's contemporaries.
Claire Booth Luce is the women who coined the now common phrase, "No good deed goes unpunished".
The Women 2008
Remakes of Classics Can Be Wonderful, Neutral or Horrible
Blogger Mick LaSalle says "The challenge and trick of remakes is that when you change -- even IMPROVE -- one thing, you unbalance something else." Great point.
What do you have to say about remakes?
What Remakes Did You Love, What Ones Did You Hate?
Reviews and Interviews: People Love to Talk About Movies
- Mick LaSalle Insights
Great review comparing both movies with interesting insights into the nature of remakes.
- Review of the 1939 Movie
The reviewer is familiar with the social situation of 1039.
- Diane English Interview
Diane English talks about the process of writing the remake.
- The New Yorker
This reviewer is not happy about the remake.
Best Friends in 1939
The Women 1939
You can either purchase it alone, or with a collection of Joan Crawford movies. You will own a classic.
Best Friends and the Enemy in 2008 (The New Yorker)
And I would love your thoughts on the lens.