“The Women”: now with even more women


“There’s a word for you ladies, but it is seldom used in high society … outside a kennel.”

That classic line from the 1939 film The Women is the perfect example of why I love the movie. Earlier this year, Anna let us know that Diane English’s long-planned remake of The Women is on again, with a cast that almost seemed too good to be true.

Now comes casting news that pushes the lineup into fantasyland (but I read it on the Internet, so it must be true). Bette Midler, Lynn Whitfield, Debi Mazar, Ana Gasteyer, Carrie Fisher, Joanna Gleason and Cloris Leachman have joined the project, which is currently shooting in Boston.

If I lived anywhere near Boston, I’d be roaming the streets to find this film set. Not that I’m condoning calling in sick and getting some pictures to post here or anything.

Here’s what we know about the characters so far. Meg Ryan plays Norma Shearer’s role, Mary Haines, a wealthy socialite whose husband is cheating on her with an attractive shop girl. Eva Mendes plays Crystal Allen, the shop girl — Joan Crawford’s part in the original. Annette Bening has Rosalind Russell’s best friend role, Sylvia Fowler. Bette Midler is the Countess DeLave, formerly played by Mary Boland, and Jada Pinkett Smith takes Paulette Goddard’s role, Miriam Aarons.

With such a prolific, award-winning cast, The Women has to be good, right? Well, no. (All the King’s Men, anyone?) Take this tidbit from the Hollywood Reporter.

English described George Cukor’s original 1939 film adaptation of Clare Boothe Luce’s all-female comedy as “a poison pen letter to society women.” She added, “My version is more of a love letter.”

A love letter? Evidently, English thought that the original script was too mean-spirited, so she shifted the focus to be more about support and women’s empowerment. Uh-oh. And here’s the latest movie poster.

The warmth? The compassion? The courage? What about the barbs? The one-liners? The snark? Don’t get me wrong; an empowering film with this cast would be incredible. But The Women is not that movie — or at least it shouldn’t be. Come on, Diane. A little cattiness is good for the soul.

If the movie’s original budget of $20 million hasn’t changed, these actresses are doing the film as a labor of love. I hope their confidence is well placed. Of course, I’d go see a remake of Throw Momma From the Train with this cast. But I’m crossing my fingers for a pleasant surprise.

Do you have hope for the remake? What about the cast? Could they pull off a script with the rapid-fire wit of the original? Will you see this movie regardless of the reviews? Or will you simply rent the 1939 version and enjoy the classic bitchfest? Oh, and if you found the film shoot, give us the scoop.