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Based on a very clever comedy by Claire Booth, wife of Time Publisher Henry Luce and later Ambassador to Italy. One of the surprises was an all-woman cast, novel in the 1930's. And although there were no men in the cast, most of the dialog was about them. The story is rather thin and depended on the fact that divorce, in the 1930's, was not only difficult but almost impossible in New York. Mrs. Stephen Haynes learns that her husband is seeing a salesgirl at Saks, and reluctantly divorces him, abetted by her friends, all of whom have romantic problems of their own. In the 1930's New York women who could afford it went to Nevada, where residency could be established quickly and divorce was relatively easy. The 1939 film, starring Norma Shearer, Paulette Goddard, Rosalind Russell, and Joan Crawford, was a hit. This one, with an even better looking cast, is definitely not, largely because someone tried to move a 1930's situation comedy into the present. Written by
I rented this because I know the 1939 movie well and wanted to see how it was updated. I sat through the whole thing, but it's really a bad movie.
Let me start by staying that I don't think the 1939 movie is a masterpiece. It has some wonderful scenes, brilliantly directed by George Cukor and brilliantly brought off by a remarkable cast who knew how to deliver bitingly clever dialogue. But there are also maudlin scenes that kill the pacing. An uneven work.
The remake isn't uneven, I'll grant it that. It's uniformly awful all the way through.
To begin with, the characters have no internal coherence, which they most certainly do in the 1939 version. In the remake, it seems that the director did a survey of what would appeal to modern women and then randomly distributed those qualities to the various women in the movie. The modern Chrystal Allen isn't really nasty; unlike in the original, she never betrays Steven Haines. Sylvia Fowler starts off being repulsively self-centered, but then varies back and forth between caring and superficial without ever really being nasty. In fact, NO ONE is really nasty, and that deprives the remake of a lot of the bite of the original.
The modern script is also sadly lacking in humor, unlike the 1939 version. It just isn't that funny. And when it does repeat lines from the original, it is painful to hear how poorly they are delivered.
In short, this movie has nothing to recommend itself. It plays like a mediocre TV show - it was directed by a TV director, so I guess that shouldn't come as a surprise. The 1939 version, though not a masterpiece, remains miles ahead of this sad excuse for a feature film.
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