Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1956. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Fay Kanin, Michael Kanin, based on the play The Women by Clare Boothe Luce. Cinematography by Robert J. Bronner. Produced by Joe Pasternak. Music by George Stoll, Robert Van Eps. Production Design by Daniel B. Cathcart, Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Helen Rose. Film Editing by John McSweeney Jr.. Golden Globe Awards 1956.
Watered down remake of The Women that tries to capture the success of How To Marry A Millionaire by ruining the fun and having men actually appear on screen. June Allyson is the sweet-natured and devoted wife to a theatre producer who is devastated when she learns from a gossipy manicurist that her husband (Leslie Nielsen) is having an affair with one of the showgirls (Joan Collins) in his latest production. Frenemy Dolores Gray is supportive but can’t avoid indulging in the drama, while devoted friend and playwright Ann Sheridan (the best performance in the film) tries to rise above the vulgar bitchiness of the women around her but can never manage it. Having Allyson play a former singer is an excuse for a slew of forgettable musical numbers (one of which actually has her dubbed by another singer!), and while including male cast members does not ruin the dominance of female performers in the plot, it does water down whatever playwright Clare Booth Luce wanted to say about female society and its simultaneously humorous and unfortunate reliance on men as the centre of all conflict. It’s like hearing a joke being told by someone who doesn’t understand why it’s funny. Where the film works best is where it sticks closest to the original, particularly the sequence where Allyson heads to Reno and hangs out at the divorce ranch run by a wonderful Charlotte Greenwood (in her last film role), while Collins is delicious for the complete lack of apology she brings to her role the shameless vixen.