Thursday, October 11, 2007

Diane English's Planned Remake of "The Women"

Diane English, the auteur of TV's "Murphy Brown," has been trying to get her planned remake of George Cukor's "The Women" in production for about ten years now. Stars have come and gone. Julia Roberts was once attached to it, but no more. Meg Ryan, however, still is.

What seemed like a bad idea a decade ago has grown on me. In fact, I started to indulge in fantasy casting at one point and, about a year ago, I mentioned to my wife that an all Latina cast might be a novel idea. In my head, the film would star Penelope Cruz, Selma Hayek, Eva Langoria, Paz Vega, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Esposito and Eva Mendez. Think about it. It could be fun.

Well, filming has finally begun and Mendez is part of the cast (as Crystal Allen, the Joan Crawford part), along with Ryan (who plays the lead, Mary, created in the original film by Norma Shearer). Rounding out English's ensemble are Annette Bening (as Sylvia, the Roz Russell role), Jada Pinkett Smith, Carrie Fisher, Debra Messing, Bette Midler, Cloris Leachman, Lynn Whitfield, Debi Mazur, Ana Gasteyer, Joanna Gleason and Candice Bergen.

The 1939 Cukor film, of course, had a screenplay by Anita Loos from the Clare Boothe Luce play. English has written her own script and, in a move that's contrary to what's usually done today, has retained all the original names of the piece's characters. You may have already noticed.

Hurrah for her.

Again, no men will be in the cast (unlike David Miller and Fay Kanin's 1956 musical remake with June Allyson and Joan Collins.)

After this, English moves on to "First Man," starring Meryl Streep as The President and Robert DeNiro as you-know-what.

(Artwork: Poster art from George Cukor's "The Women"; Eva Mendes as Crystal Allen, the "Joan Crawford part," in Diane English's planned remake)

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Anonymous said...

I prefer the cast from the version I saw on PBS starring Cynthia Nixon.

Anonymous said...

I prefer the cast from the version I saw on PBS starring Cynthia Nixon.

Anonymous said...

Warmest Greetings from England, Joe,

I am sitting here in Kent, watching Marco Bellocchio's energetic film, The Wedding Director.

Multi-tasking on a Saturday night, I google, to see what the critics think of the film, when the name of my all-time-favourite-film-critic springs to mind: Joe Baltake.

This is not the first time I have wondered, "What would Joe Baltake think of this film?" It is, however, the first time I have googled you to see what you've been up to.

Love your blog. I will spend time here enjoying your gorgeous writing and thoughts about films.

Did you move back to Philly?

I lived on the East Coast (Montclair, Jersey) 2002 - 2005. Philly is one of my favourite cities, but east coast weather slays me. Autumn (right now) is the best time to do that particular coast.

Just as Molly Ivins was my favourite columnist, you will always be my favourite film crtitic, Joe.

Hope you're enjoying yourself.

Viva La Vida!

Marsha Coupé

joe baltake said...

Marsha- What a treat. E-mail me at

Anonymous said...

I personally can't wait for this film. Unlike your other reader, I hated the PBS version, which should have been good, but was just boring. This new version has a great cast (and I would have enjoyed your Latina version as well). What an incredible opportunity for these actresses! I find that most films are just perfect the way they are and don't need to be re-made, but this one is an exception - and sounds exceptional. Again, I can't wait!

Anonymous said...

For some reason, I've never been a big fan of the original film, despite my usual love for all things Cukor. So I'm open to English's take (Eva Mendes is underrated in comedy, I think. She was one, maybe two, of the best things in "Stuck on You").

Is "First Man" derived at all from "Kisses for My President," which had Susan Hayward and Fred MacMurray as the first couple?

joe baltake said...

I doubt if "First Man" is related to "Kisses for My President." Just a guess. BTW, it was Polly Bergen, not Susan Hayward who played the President in it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what was I thinking? Hayward played Andrew Jackson's first lady in "The President's Lady," so maybe that's where I got my wires crossed. Shameful, considering I just saw Polly Bergen on this week's "Desperate Housewives," in which she has a recurring role as Felicity Huffman's mother.