it’s all about men!

The Women (1939), that is. I watched it today with another woman, and it kind of topped off a day of talking about relationships. We really do always talk about men! And, well, books and abortion and health care policy and homemade ravioli…

The Women 1939

The movie, though, is interesting. It’s mostly about one Mrs. Mary Haines (played by Shearer), who finds out her husband is having an affair with a shopgirl named Crystal (played by Crawford) and how her reaction differs from that of her high-society friends and her mother.

I think relationships, especially marriages, are so interesting (I hope none of you married folks are weirded out by this). The parting message of the film is that a woman in love can’t afford to have pride, which I think is pretty apt when you change ‘woman’ to ‘person’. Another way of saying that is a couple in love can’t afford not to (try to try to) forgive each other over and over. Maybe. But the bit about pride– I like that.

You also have, in a movie that mostly doesn’t challenge the deeply patriarchal status quo of 1939, a protagonist who is openly struggling with her feminist ideal of an equal marriage. Also, I’m pretty sure someone should write a film theory paper on the opening credits, which frame pictures of wildlife corresponding to each character: Mary is a doe, her mother is an owl, Crystal is a fox, etc. It’s kind of hilarious.

The only bad bit about the whole movie is an annoying child actor (of course!) who says ‘Mother darling’ one too many times.


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