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11 things to know before you see 'The Women'

Photo credit:
prettycleverfilms.com

FilmOut San Diego and San Diego Pride are presenting the 1939 feminine powered classic “The Women” on the big screen on July 12.

If you aren’t familiar with this film, now would be a good time to see it. Perhaps the only film in history filled with so much estrogen, even the artworks in the movie are all female.

Way before the Real Housewives took over Park Avenue, there was this film directed by George Cukor, starring every A-List MGM actress of the time including Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine, Mary Boland, and Paulette Goddard.

Snappy and catty dialogue fill the picture with claws drawn and painted "Jungle Red."

Before you see the show, here are a few things, courtesy of IMDb,  you'll want to know about this classic before you settle into your seat.

1) In addition to its all-female cast, every animal that was used in the film (the many dogs and horses) was female as well. In addition, none of the works of art seen in the backgrounds were representative of the male form, except for the cartoon bull that appears in the picnic scene during the fashion sequence.

2) Although uncredited, F. Scott Fitzgerald contributed to the writing of the screenplay.

3) The enormous square-cut ring Mary wears on her wedding ring finger at the film's start was the most expensive piece of jewelry in the film. Borrowed for filming, it was worth $175,000.

4) George Cukor told Rosalind Russell to play the part of Sylvia very broad. "Because in this picture Sylvia's breaking up a family, and there's a child involved, and if you're a heavy," Cukor told her, "audiences will hate you. Don't play it like a heavy, just be ridiculous." Of this advice Russell said, "He was a hundred-percent right. I was frightened to death, but from then on, I did what he said, and everything that came to me from 'The Women'--namely, my reputation as a comedienne--I owe to George . . . He was marvelous to work for, he could think of a hundred bits of business for every moment."

5) In the dressing room after the fashion show, Crystal Allen says to Mary Haines, " . . . because he's the kind that lets that old-fashioned sentiment put the Indian sign on him, and that's all". "The Indian sign" was a popular phrase of the time. It meant to control or dominate. It comes from a technique used by Native Americans to train horses.

6) The film's costume designer Adrian had his work cut out for him dressing some of Hollywood's most glamorous leading ladies. In addition to the regular costumes for the film, he was also asked to create multiple high-fashion gowns and outfits for a Technicolor fashion show scene that was to be inserted into the black-and-white film. Technicolor was still something of a novelty in 1939, and producer Hunt Stromberg wanted the fashion show to be an eye-popping, unexpected surprise for moviegoers. When all was said and done, Adrian had designed over 200 gowns for the cast of the film.

7) According to her autobiography, Rosalind Russell called in sick because Norma Shearer refused to share top billing. She stayed "sick" until Shearer finally relented.

8) Though many people view Joan Crawford as the "bad girl" of the movie, Clare Boothe Luce, who wrote (as Clare Boothe) the play that the film was based on, sympathized most with Crystal Allen, Crawford's character.

9) George Cukor liked to work at a brisk pace, and he kept all of the actresses on their toes. "On a Cukor picture, there's no rest," said Rosalind Russell in her 1977 memoir "Life Is a Banquet". "He keeps you so busy, you're spinning. You're rehearsing, you're running lines, you never get to go to your dressing room, or to the bathroom . . . and it's great, it's stimulating."

10) The $225 nightgown Mary admires after the fashion show would be the equivalent of $3,840 in 2016.

11) In the last scene, in the Women's Lounge, a blonde woman enters, compliments the women, and asks if there is "any dirt for the column". The character's name is Dolly Dupuyster, and she is played by one of the two reigning society gossips in Hollywood for decades, Miss Hedda Hopper (1885-1966)

The Women will play on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at 7 pm at the Hillcrest Cinemas - Landmark Theatres.

The Hillcrest Cinemas - Landmark Theatres is located at 3965 5th Ave. San Diego, CA 92103