Monday, September 26, 2016
The Opposite Sex
By most accounts the 2008 remake of The Women was bad. The sexual politics of 1939 did not sit well in the 21st century. The sharp banter was replaced with flat sitcom humor.
The 1956 remake of The Women isn't bad per se... merely unnecessary. The mediocre songs don't comment on the plot or characters. Adding a male cast removes a gimmick and leaves the actors nothing to do. They are just sort of there. The female cast holds there own. Joan Collins is an ideal Crystal, setting a template for future roles. Dolores Gray provides a fresh take on Sylvia, standing apart from Rosalind Russell. June Allyson gives the leading lady some spine, improving in some ways on Norma Shearer's dewy performance.
Crystal is upgraded from shop clerk to fashion model allowing for some gorgeous gowns and catwalk strutting. Allyson gets a sexy nightclub number to establish that she's no naive ingenue. Gray throws herself gamely into every scene including a brawl with Ann Miller! Sadly the film lost money, providing Gray with yet another flop.
Edit: And here's Jeanette Winterson's marvelous analysis of the 1939 film.