Friday, October 10, 2008

Jungle Red!

I hadn't originally planned to see the newest incarnation of The Women (2008), but that's what I was doing last Sunday evening. As I spoke before about this subject (see previous post), there have been good and bad remakes. I didn't expect to like this one, but luckily when I went to the theater, I left all preconceived expectations behind and opened myself up to what was going to grace the screen. And guess what ? I kind of liked it!

There are some obvious flaws. First of all, the dialogue. The original, The Women (1939), had the most amazing cutting, witty and catty dialogue. Plus the pacing in the original is fast, where as its much slower and more casual in the remake. My biggest gripe is that while Cukor did such an excellent job showcasing all of the talent in the original, the remake did not take advantage of its ensemble cast as it should have. Poor Bette Midler gets only a couple minutes of screen time and her whole plotline is reduced to one flighty conversation. Gah!

Most of the bloggers who have reviewed the 2008 version did not like it. And I can see why. The original is just so great that it really can't be matched. But the remake is very conscious of its predecessor, making references to it throughout the movie. On its own however, the film was very enjoyable. My favorite was the climax scene (spoiler alert to those who aren't familiar with the original story), when Mary decides to get back together with Stephen. It happens in a delivery room when one of the characters is having a baby. It was so funny I near fell out of my chair laughing. And the remake made MUCH better use of the author character (Nancy Blake played by Florence Nash and Alex Fisher played by Jada Pinkett-Smith). The Sylvia Fowler character is very 3-dimensional in the remake. She can be evil, but she has a history and she's a good person at heart. Whereas, the Sylvia Flower in the original is a conniving stock character that Rosalind Russell played oh so well. In the same way Russell did in 1939, Annette Benning really does steal the picture. All in all, it was an enjoyable film.

And of course, I painted my nails my version of "Jungle Red" in honor of the movie!


  1. I confess that I enjoyed The Women more than I cared to admit when writing about it. Some films just seem too easy to bash, and this one's blend of plastic surgery and Sex and the City parallels asks for mockery instead of more balanced criticism. I agree that Annette Benning steals the picture.

  2. Hey Film Dr - I didn't think of the Sex and the City thing, but I totally get it. I can peg each of the four from someone on that show.

    I talked to my friend Kevin about Meg Ryan's Botox. We both found it quite distracting. She used to be bubbly and emotive but now I find her frozen, struggling to smile. But this isn't new. I feel the same way about Gloria Grahame in her later flicks. And post-accident Monty Clift always makes me sad, although that surgery was absolutely necessary. Ooh I think I just came up with an idea for a post!

  3. It's difficult to measure the differences between actor's status in cultural terms for the different eras. In 1939, glamor ruled as did the studio's presentation of their stars. Actors, especially the A-list women actors, were seen as goddess-like creatures.

    In that context, the 1939 version of The Women must have had a tremendous impact on movie goers. That's a sensation not duplicated today.

  4. Bill - It's true. They really kind of set themselves up for failure. But I do have to say, I saw the Broadway production of The Women done a couple of years ago and it was very good. But they did keep to the 1930's period.

    I wonder why people even today gravitate towards the 1939 version? Hmmm...

  5. My, what pretty hands you have. :)

    Love the jungle red!


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