1956's THE OPPOSITE SEX reworks Clare Boothe Luce's "The Women" into a musical vehicle for June Allyson, in what turned out to be one of her final roles at MGM. The main novelty in "The Women" was it's all-female cast (men were discussed but never shown). In THE OPPOSITE SEX, the guys finally get to play a part.
The latest gossip swirling around Sidney's Salon in New York concerns Kay Hilliard (June Allyson), a former radio and musical theatre star. It seems that her husband Steve (Leslie Nielsen), the successful Broadway producer, has been mixing business with pleasure by stepping out with opportunistic chorus girl Crystal Allen (Joan Collins). Kay's best pal Amanda (Ann Sheridan) tries to shield her from the truth, but when Sylvia Fowler (Dolores Gray) and some of her cattier comrades zero-in on Crystal and uncork the bottle, Kay finally decides that the only solution is a month-long trip to Reno...
Whilst this lacks the overall tartness and zing of the earlier "Women" (which still holds up remarkably well for a film from 1939), THE OPPOSITE SEX has a lot going for it. By opening up the film as a musical, we can savour June Allyson in one of her final all-singing, all-dancing MGM assignments; traipsing around with her middle-aged male chorus dancers draped over a jungle-gym in "Now Baby Now", and dueting with Harry James on "Young Man with a Horn" (Jo Ann Greer dubbed Allyson's vocals for one song, "A Perfect Love", which must have been *slightly* out of Allyson's range). Serial Broadway belter Dolores Gray sings the Theme Song over the main credits but keeps silent for the remainder of the film. And Ann Miller appears in a fun supporting role when the action reaches Reno, but never once exposes those gorgeous gams for a tap routine. Very curious. Especially when one realises that this MUSICAL remake of "The Women" could have greatly benefitted from several of it's stars having musical backgrounds!
The casting of Joan Blondell in a supporting role as one of Allyson's Park Avenue girlfriends (the ever-pregnant one) must have raised a few eyebrows on the set, given that Blondell had actually been the first wife of Allyson's husband Dick Powell!
Swapping "The Women"'s predominantly Park Avenue setting for the exciting world of backstage Broadway gives THE OPPOSITE SEX much more scope to fill up it's widescreen ratio (pardon the pun). Gone from the original film is it's trademark fashion show sequence, but that was only ever used as a test to show how much progress Technicolor photography had made.
This DVD-R release from the Warner Archive program offers a very sharp print, with beautiful saturated colour. There are a few speckles every now and then, plus the usual compression issues but nothing terribly serious. No extras.