Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is THE OPPOSITE SEX worse than THE WOMEN (2008)?

Sorry for the lack of postings recently.

I was recently asked whether I remembered a '50s remake of The Women, before the current flop, I mean. Yes, I do remember it, unfortunately; it was The Opposite Sex (1956), a semi-musical remake of The Women, but with men in the cast (including Leslie Nielsen as the husband). I haven't seen the new version, and don't want to, but I find it hard to believe that it could be as bad as The Opposite Sex.

Not that the original version of The Women is any masterpiece, or even a very entertaining movie, in my opinion. (TCM recently showed The Women followed by Stage Door, and seeing The Women back-to-back with that masterpiece not only shows up how anti-woman The Women is, but why I don't care much for Cukor; I just don't care for his habit of encouraging his actors to be caricatures of themselves, and he doesn't only do that here, but in a whole bunch of his films.) But it's a professionally-done movie, obviously, by a studio at the top of its game. The Opposite Sex was by MGM at its nadir, produced by its most tasteless filmmaker, Joe Pasternak, with a cast consisting mostly of people who had been signed to contracts and had nothing to do now that MGM was cutting back on musicals; it's a contract-burnoff movie. June Allyson, Dolores Gray, Ann Miller and others seem to know that their options aren't going to be picked up, and look accordingly miserable. Everyone's terrible in it except Joan Collins, on loan from Fox; she's not exactly good, but Crystal is such an easy and appropriate role for her that she really couldn't miss with it altogether.

Throw in terrible dialogue ("You've been seeing my daughter!" is the most-quoted line), terrible songs, and that '50s MGM CinemaScope look -- MGM probably had the worst-looking widescreen movies, with lumpy camerawork, poor editing and unpleasant color -- and I don't see how much worse the new version could be


Anonymous said...

I saw the new "Women" (it was a screening -- I wouldn't pay for it) and trust me, it's worse. In fact, considering the cast it's amazingly bad.

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree with your assesment of Cukor but he did at least make one of the few good-looking MGM 'scope movies in the 50s: "Les Girls," which contains one gorgeous shot after another.

Anonymous said...

You people are nuts! "The Opposite Sex" is a great example of manners and mores of the middle 1950's. The performances are great kitsch, but the clothes are the real stars of this flick. Tight, sculptured, immpeccable, gorgeous! Joan Collins is deliciously evil, June Allyson is plucky, and Agnes Moorehead has an elegant supporting role as the much-married Countess. There is a great bit of dialogue, where the best friend of June Allyson is describing her as "having the grace to be what she is...a wowan." And when asked "Well, what are we?", she says bitingly, "Females. The forgotten sex..."

And, no, I'm not gay. I'm a rather frumpy female boomer, who finds escape in Vogue magazine, and dear old movies like this.


Anonymous said...

Amendment to above:
"having the grace to be what she is...a woman."

Anonymous said...

Wow - how can you miss the mark so hard! "The Women" (1939) was boring and too damn long with unneccesary characters and plot. "The Opposite Sex", however was a streamlined and polished version of the same story with some great musical numbers. MGM made a smart little "B" movie with likable protaganists and villians alike. "The Opposite Sex" is fun and extremely watchable. I can't wait for it to be released on dvd.