Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer and Rosalind Russell - When wives had class as well as ambition and clawsFor reasons which, initially, I could barely explain, I've become a devotee of the "Real Housewives" shows on Bravo, particuarly the latest one, "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," which is easily the entertainment version of fast food - great-tasting, unhealthy and guilt-producing.
But then, one day, when I was able to tear myself away from Bravo and return to my beloved Turner Classic Movies, I realized something. Turner was promoting its May 14th screening of George Cukor's "The Women" of 1939 and it suddenly dawned on me that, 60 years later, Bravo's collective series on catty, acquisitive, self-absorbed, untrustworthy women of privilege is clearly the heir to Cukor's classic.
Danielle Staub, a real Jersey housewifeIn many ways, the women, then and now, are exactly the same, except that the characters in Cukor's film talk with much better diction and have a noticeably less vulgar taste in clothing, decor and especially men. (The men in "The Women" remain off-screen but I'd wager that they're more presentable than the balding, obese nouveaux riches of "Housewives.")
Poor Diane English. She spent 10 years working on her 2008 remake of "The Women," doing her level best to approximate and modernize Cukor's take on Clare Boothe Luce's ruthless depiction of, er, loyalty among women. While she was busy working, Bravo got it right.