At nearly every turn, you'll hear the same thing, repeated ad nauseum: "Why can't Hollywood come up with something original?" If you think that sentiment is something new for this generation, all you need do is catch this the next time it's on Turner Classic Movies (or on DVD) and you'll discover a lack of originality is hardly New Age. MGM, for whatever reason, apparently decided to remake one of THE classic comedies of ANY age, let alone the 1930's, Clare Boothe Luce's "The Women", directed by George Cukor (perhaps the best director of women ever) starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, veteran scene-stealer Rosalind Russell, and a whole crew of other very talented actresses. In the original, as it is already well-known, men may have been the topic of every conversation but NEVER were they shown on-screen (right down to the books, all written by women). The writing was arguably the crispest, sharpest, wittiest, played to the nth degree by a sterling cast and guided by peerless direction. Alas, in this remake, you get none of that. It's hard, really, to begin to say just WHERE the problem lies, but I'll start with the mildest offender: the men, absent on-screen in the original, are now on display for all to see and this twist does little, if anything, to help. Oh, sure: Leslie Nielsen is quite a hunk and does as well as anyone probably could with such a one-dimensional character, but he is the ONLY male to make any impact whatsoever, apart from Jeff Richards, who plays Buck, an ambitious country singer who's more than willing to help divorcees-in-the-making get over their pains: Richards is totally bland as can be, with a hilariously inept "southern" accent to boot. Then there's the direction: where's George Cukor when you need him?!?!? David Miller, as one look at his list of directorial duties will immediately make clear, wasn't exactly a Golden Boy when it came to helming films; save for two or three films, none of the movies he helped bring to the screen can even come close to being called "classics" and most are probably well-forgotten, a batting average well on display here, for the film as a whole is just THERE, rudderless and bereft of a sure hand. The screenplay also takes a handful of liberties with Clare Boothe Luce's classic, throwing in some "modern" twists and changing things about, here and there, and the effect is lethal. (Characters are melded into one, or used sparingly, or cut entirely.) And then there's the music - oh, the music! Oddly, though this is, officially, a musical, there really isn't much music to be found, which, judging by what music IS offered, ain't such a terrible thing: in a song-within-a-play number, Dick Shawn oversells it all, practically knocking the audience over the head; in another number, Joan Collins, as the man-stealing hussy once played by Joan Crawford, is asked to do the simplest dance moves and is as stiff as a board (it's a hoot!); the aforementioned Jeff Richards also offers up a number, the unforgettable "Rock and Roll Tumbleweed", the title of which provides you with all you need to know. The worst, though, is the film's star, June Allyson, whose husky voice seems perpetually off-key in EVERY tune. Allyson is also a major liability in other aspects: while I'm sure she's the sweetest person in real life, she was NEVER a very good actress, and CERTAINLY all wrong for the role of a goody-two-shoes wife whose husband leaves her for another, more exciting woman, a role originally portrayed by Norma Shearer. Where Shearer added bite to her performance, Allyson smiles stoically and offers moist eyes to the heavens, as if expecting a halo to suddenly appear atop her head, a head already bedecked with a severe, matronly 'do that is NOT flattering to a woman who's too old for the part to begin with (and if Allyson WASN'T too old for the part, well, honey, she LOOKS it!). Also a sore disappointment is Joan Collins, already type-cast, perhaps, as a tart, but those expecting "Dynasty"-style bitchiness should look elsewhere: Collins is a novice, and, while physically stunning, is too much the novice to really sink her teeth into the dialogue, which she rushes through as if she has somewhere else to be. She tries but it's no cigar. No cigar, indeed! Ann Sheridan is sympathetic as Allyson's truest friend but she's given almost nothing to do except look as butch as possible. (She's probably supposed to be an amalgamation of Shearer's mother and the "old maid" - read: lesbian - columnist from the original.) Joan Blondell is a welcome sight as the ever-pregnant friend but as another reviewer has so adeptly noticed, she's also a bit long-in-the-tooth for her role. Ann Miller, in the Paulette Goddard role, and Agnes Moorehead, as the Countess, do as well as they can, and aren't bad, really, but are really also given very little to do; in the case of Miller, it's mind-boggling WHY, in a musical, of all things, she's just there to model clothes. Only Dolores Gray, as sniveling weasel Sylvia Fowler, comes close to reaching the level expected by fans of "The Women", but she's still at a loss, thanks to a terrible script and fellow performers who just aren't up to the task. A director who doesn't care, stars woefully miscast, laughable musical moments, and an interminable pace all spell disaster. The only worthwhile aspect of sitting through it is as a period piece, a curiosity piece, a campy number or two, and to see a pre-"Dynasty" Joan Collins. Otherwise, a two-hour snooze-fest. You've been warned.