Monday, April 25, 2011

Joan Sells... Perfume

That wonderful year of 1939 brought us Joan Crawford, along with a galaxy of female stars, playing the gold-digging, husband-stealing Crystal Allen in The Women. Norma Shearer is the star here; Mary Haines, the woman whose husband is stolen by Crystal.  The movie, as the tagline says, stars all women, but is about men - the men in their lives, who they talk about constantly.  We have all kinds of women here, from the innocent (Joan Fontaine) to the experienced (Paulette Goddard) to the nearly idiotic (Mary Boland, as the hysterical Countess de Lave).  Rosalind Russell, in a supporting role, shines as the gossipy Sylvia Fowler, and there is an equally enjoyable performance by Lucile Watson as Mary Haines mother.

Much of our conversation focused on the position of this movie within the "chick flick" universe - starring only women, could it be a chick flick?  Interestingly, the movie was marketed to men.  One assumes the moviemakers figured the men were the harder sell, so the ads point up many lovely, undressed ladies ("Zips up the back and no bone").  It is surely a movie about women; and the little fashion show demonstrates it is a movie FOR women. But there is enough, we thought, to keep a man watching.

Crawford is just magnificent here.  And she surely has the best line in the whole movie: "There's a name for you ladies, but it no used in high society, outside a kennel". Crystal may lose the fight, but she'll be back again; perhaps to win the war!

Thanks to YouTube, enjoy this compendium of great lines from the movie:

 

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