The Women is a modern comedy of manners by Clare Boothe Luce, which opened on Broadway in 1936 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre with an all-female cast that included Arlene Francis, Marjorie Main.
Directed by George Cukor, it was adapted for the screen by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin, who toned down the innuendo for a movie audience, and released as a 1939 comedy film which was one of the great successes of its day.
The film continued the play's all-female tradition - the entire cast of more than 130 speaking roles was female. Set in the glamorous Manhattan apartments of high society evoked by Cedric Gibbons, and in Reno where they obtain their divorces, it presents an acidic commentary on the pampered lives and power struggles of various rich, bored wives and the other women that they come into contact with. Throughout the film, not a single male is seen although the males are much talked about, and the central theme is the women's relationships with them. The attention to detail was such that even in props such as portraits only female figures are represented, and several animals which appeared as pets were also female. The only exception is a poster-drawing clearly of a bull in the fashion show segment.
Directed by George Cukor, the film starred Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell. Among the well known actresses who also appeared were Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, Lucile Watson, Mary Boland, Marjorie Main, Virginia Grey, Ruth Hussey, Virginia Weidler, Butterfly McQueen and Hedda Hopper.
Filmed in black and white it originally included a 10 minute fashion parade filmed in Technicolor, which featured Adrian's most outré designs; often cut in modern screenings, it has been restored by Turner Classic Movies.
The film proved to be a great success, both commercially and critically, and although it received no Academy Award nominations many critics now describe it as one of the major films of what was a stellar year in Hollywood film production.
It was remade with little success in 1956 as a musical and renamed The Opposite Sex. Male performers were seen onscreen on this occasion, but even with a cast including such well known actresses as Joan Collins, June Allyson, Ann Sheridan, Ann Miller, Agnes Moorehead, Charlotte Greenwood and Joan Blondell, it failed to create the level of interest that the original had stirred.
The play was revived on Broadway in 1973 with Dorothy Loudon, Myrna Loy, Jan Miner, and Alexis Smith, and in 2001 with Kristen Johnston, Rue McClanahan, Cynthia Nixon, and Jennifer Tilly.