The Opposite Sex (1956)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

USA, 1956.  .  Screenplay by , , based on the play The Women by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Joe Pasternak.  Music by George Stoll, .  Production Design by , Cedric Gibbons.  Costume Design by Helen Rose.  Film Editing by .  

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.   is the sweet-natured and devoted wife to a theatre producer who is devastated when she learns from a gossipy manicurist that her husband () is having an affair with one of the showgirls () in his latest production.  Frenemy  is supportive but can’t avoid indulging in the drama, while devoted friend and playwright  (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   (in her last film role), while Collins is delicious for the complete lack of apology she brings to her role the shameless vixen.

Golden Globe Award Nomination:  Best Picture-Musical/Comedy

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