All About Eve, Batman Returns, Black or White, Cabin in the Sky, Dangerous Liaisons, Dolores Claiborne, feminism, Film, Foxy Brown, Old Acquaintance, The Women, Women's History Month

Women to Women

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“Complicated” barely scratches the surface when attempting to describe women and how we relate to each other. Even the best of friendships are rife with competition, envy and resentment. Women can be each other’s greatest allies and support systems. We can also be our most destructive enemies when using intimate knowledge to go for the jugular. As Women’s History Month comes to a close, here are 10 of my favorite movie clips dramatizing the complexities in woman to woman relationships.

1.  THE WOMEN (1939)

The Women

Mrs. Moorehead: We women are so much more sensible.  When we tire of ourselves, we change the way we do our hair, or hire a new cook, or decorate the house. I suppose a man could do over his office, but he never thinks of anything so simple. No, dear, a man has only one escape from his old self – to see a different self in the mirror of some woman’s eyes.

Although released almost 80 years ago, The Women remains the standard-bearer for the ways of women. The female archetypes — including a mother offering her daughter wise counsel regarding her husband’s infidelity, wife/mistress confrontation, and envious “friends” with snide commentary — are well represented and still very relevant.

Clip: Miriam sets Mary straight.

2. CABIN IN THE SKY (1943)

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Petunia Jackson: Awww, save that sugar-coated talk for your girlfriend.

It’s fun to see Ethel Waters as Petunia Jackson being sassy and flirty for a change. Her onscreen characters were usually devout, long-suffering, matronly and devoid of sex appeal. Waters shows why she was called “Sweet Mama Stringbean” as she literally kicks up her heels and upstages Lena Horne.

Clip:  Petunia lets loose.

3. OLD ACQUAINTANCE (1943)

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Kit Marlowe: There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.

Lifelong frenemies Kit Marlowe (Bette Davis) and Millie Drake (Miriam Hopkins) have a strained relationship at best. Fed up after yet another misunderstanding, Kit does what many of us would like to do to those who refuse to hear reason. Knowing that Davis and Hopkins hated each other in real life makes this scene even more fun to watch.

Clip: Kit shakes some sense into Millie.

4.  ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)

Margo Channing: Funny business, a woman’s career – the things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster.  You forget you’ll need them again when you get back to being a woman.

Margo Channing (Bette Davis) battles insecurities regarding her age, lover and career. Ironically, Margo becomes most assured and insightful when she drops her guard, admits her fears, and timelessly breaks down what it is to be a woman.

Clip: Being a woman.

5.  FOXY BROWN (1974)

Foxy Brown: Death is too easy for you, bitch. I want you to SUFFER.

Seeking revenge for her boyfriend’s murder, Foxy Brown (Pam Grier) faces her nemesis Katherine Wall (Kathryn Loder) and destroys her as only another woman could.

Clip: I want you to suffer.

6. ALIENS (1986)

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Ripley: Get away from her, you bitch!

Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) maternal instincts make her even more formidable.

Clip: Ripley prepares to battle the Alien Queen.

7.  DANGEROUS LIAISONS (1988)

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Marquise de Merteuil: When one woman strikes at the heart of another she seldom misses, and the wound is invariably fatal.

Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) describes how she empowered herself by manipulating others.

Clip: Reinventing oneself.

8.  BATMAN RETURNS (1992)

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Catwoman: Life’s a bitch, now so am I.

After transforming into her fully realized self, Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) has little tolerance for damsels in distress. I now understand why Catwoman refused to live happily ever after with Batman.

Clip: I am Catwoman.  Hear me roar.

9.  DOLORES CLAIBORNE (1995)

Dolores Claiborne: Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto.

Dolores Claiborne (Kathy Bates) finds an unexpected ally in her imperious employer.

Clip: Dolores confides in Vera.

10. BLACK OR WHITE (2014)

Rowena Jeffers: Well, there are certain things a man can do, certain things a woman can do.

Rowena (Octavia Spencer), in court seeking custody of her granddaughter, faces off  with Judge Cummins (Paula Newsome). The two women size up each other without words while communicating clearly. Message received.

Clip: It Won’t Happen Again

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