Mary Haines’ House in “The Women”

by hookedonhouses on March 28, 2010

The Women remake 2008 DVD cover

The original 1939 version of The Women is a classic. It’s so campy and over the top that I always get a kick out f it. There were several “gimmicks” to the movie. For one thing, there wasn’t a single man in it. For another, it was filmed in black and white except for a lengthy fashion-show scene that they shot in color.

Writer and Director Diane English says she always thought it should be remade for contemporary audiences “because women have changed so much since then.” In 2008, she did just that, with a version that features actresses like Meg Ryan, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Annette Bening.

Meg Ryan's house-The Women

The tagline for the original was “It’s All About the Men.” But Diane believed that women have many more interests than just the opposite sex these days, so she says she “wanted to weave in issues of female empowerment, body image, and self-esteem.” She wrote the first draft in 1995, but it was stuck in development for over a decade.

Maybe that’s why the movie felt a little stale when it finally did come out? After shows like “Sex and the City” and the “Real Housewives” series on Bravo, The Women seemed dated, almost like it was actually made in ’95.

entry hall

Meg Ryan plays good-girl-done-wrong Mary Haines, and her traditional red-brick house held my interest more than the movie itself.

Here’s a shot of the living room during a party Mary threw for a large group of women. She supposedly did all the cooking for it herself “because I think people appreciate it.” Considering the size of the party, I had a hard time believing she did everything herself, but whatever.

living room-mantel

Mary’s Kitchen:

Mary Haines kitchen 1

I really liked the kitchen with the stained wood backsplash and the open shelves. The fabulous Cloris Leachman plays Mary’s housekeeper and was one of my favorite characters in the movie.

kitchen 2

Meg Ryan is one of my favorite rom-com actresses, but she just didn’t look like herself in this movie. I watched her in the 2001 movie Kate & Leopold yesterday (photos of her NYC apartment in that  one coming soon!) and was surprised by the difference.

kitchen 3

Ryan’s first acting job was playing Candice Bergen’s daughter in the George Cukor film Rich and Famous. Bergen played her mother again in The Women.

Diane English wrote the TV show “Murphy Brown” in the 1990s, which turned Bergen into a sitcom star.

kitchen 4

The brass and hunter green in the kitchen seemed like a bit of a ’90s flashback to me. Was that to show that the kitchen had been around a long time and wasn’t too trendy? Or is it a sign of trends to come?

kitchen 6

I’m a little puzzled by the TV on the counter, too. Wouldn’t that make it hard to open the cabinet doors above it? You may recall that they used that TV to show us part of a Dove commercial. Dove products were also shown on the bathroom counter in one scene.

kitchen 7

kitchen 8

The Powder Room:

powder room

Stephen’s Study:


It felt like many of these rooms, including Stephen’s study, were part of the real house and not sets. Some of the rooms felt a little empty–not as staged and “decorated” as you’d expect from a movie like this.

Master Bedroom and Bath:

Mary Haines bedroom-The women

Linda, who writes about movie sets at Silver Screen Surroundings, points out that the bed looks small for a master bedroom.

She also notes that the arched window in the bathroom matches the one on the exterior of the house. She believes this scene was filmed in the actual house (you can see more photos and information about the movie in her post):

master bath

Decorating for Christmas:

fireplace-decorated for Cmas

I thought this room looked so pretty when they were decorating it for the holidays. The painted mantel is gorgeous.

The Screened Porch on the Side:

side with screened porch

This may be one of my favorite parts of the house–the screened porch. I wish they showed us an inside view!

screened porch

A lot of the movie was filmed in Massachusetts (Georgetown and Boston). I believe that’s where this house is located, as well, but I couldn’t confirm it. If anyone knows for sure, let me know.

exterior side

Clare Boothe Luce wrote the original play as  a poison-pen letter to all the catty, back-biting women she had met in New York City society. It was a smash hit on Broadway.

Clare Booth Luce

It was made into a movie in 1939 with MGM’s biggest female stars who were under contract with the studio at the time. Joan Crawford was one of them. She didn’t want to play the role of mistress Crystal Allen, but it turned out to be a great career move for her.

Joan Crawford-The Women

Eva Mendes played the part of Crystal in the remake but was fairly toothless compared to Crawford’s maneater:

Eva Mendes as Crystal Allen

Norma Shearer was perfectly cast in the role of good-girl-done-wrong Mary Haines. She had a great house in the original movie, too. Let’s take a look at it while we’re at it!

The Women original-Mary Haines' dining rm

Rosalind Russell played Sylvia Fowler, and it was her first comedic role. Her next movie was the classic screwball comedy His Girl Friday with Cary Grant, one of my all-time favorites. I’ve seen it so many times, I could probably recite it from memory…

I love the corner window seat at the base of Mary’s stairs. The windows are lined with open shelves:

The Women original-Mary Haines' stairs

In the play, there was a lesbian character that didn’t make it into the original movie. Diane English revived the character and developed Alex more thoroughly for the remake (played by Jada Pinkett Smith).

Mary’s kitchen in the original:

The Women original-Mary Haines-kitchen

A lot of the action in the original took place in a spa where the women gathered to gossip:

The Women-original movie-spa

Did you like the remake as well as the original? What did you think of Mary Haines’ house–past and present?

4/10 UPDATE: I found the real house that the 2008 version of The Women was filmed in. To see the photos and compare the real interiors to how they appeared in the movie, click here.

Visit my TV/Movie Houses page for more, including other Meg Ryan movies like You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle.

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Karena March 29, 2010 at 12:14 am

Fabulous to enjoy all of the images from the two movies!! very interesting casting as well.

Giveaway is up on my site, come and join in!
Art by Karena
.-= Karena´s last blog ..Seaside Painting Giveaway =-.

Nancy@marcusdesign March 29, 2010 at 12:34 am

This is a great post Julia, I watched this movie and I am not sure what I thought of it!?! I did like that if you pay attention to the credits at the end, literally every person involved with the film was a women! The house is quite grand and beautiful on the outside, but I’m not totally sold on the inside. I never noticed the Dove commercial before!!
.-= Nancy@marcusdesign´s last blog ..{thanks for the award!} =-.

Kim March 29, 2010 at 1:12 am

What a great post. I agree with Nancy. This house is grand and beautiful on the outside, but I expected more from the inside. I love the Home Alone house much more then this home.

I love the 2nd house. It has charm and elegance.

Becky K March 29, 2010 at 3:09 am

Now I want to see this movie to see more of the house.
I’ll have to come back to see Meg Ryan’s house tomorrow.
She is one of my favorite actresses.

Becky K.
.-= Becky K´s last blog ..Prayers Appreciated =-.

Freddi March 29, 2010 at 3:19 am

I found your website last night and I could not pull away and go to bed. I typically just read a blog but never interact, but I just had to wish you well and tell you how much fun I had. Your bad MLS listings took me over the top. As for the current house: I want a screened porch like that!!!

E. George March 29, 2010 at 3:25 am

Hi Julia I agree with all of you guys I loved the house from the outside but the inside? Love Cloris she is always great. I loved the christmas decor scene. Do you think the girls in this movie did not seem to click? I must admit I don’t remember watching the original my sister loves old movies I tried to get her to see the new one she refused never mind. I love the original house it looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing it was great can’t wait to see Megs house I don’t know if you have seen her other movie Hanging Up now that is a house I think you might like. Until next time Goodmorning Goodevening and Goodnight Regards Esther from Sydney with crazy not Autumn weather……

le@whoopwhoop March 29, 2010 at 5:08 am

I love that portch too – screened portches what not to love :) best le
.-= le@whoopwhoop´s last blog ..Wild Flowers from the Western Gulf =-.

Dagny @ Beautiful Living March 29, 2010 at 6:03 am

I really liked that movie, the Women. Was stunned to see how botoxed Meg Ryan was looking though.
.-= Dagny @ Beautiful Living´s last blog ..Ukens LCD (Little Colorful Dress) / LCD of the Week =-.

laney March 29, 2010 at 6:11 am

…loved loved loved the original movie…and the first mary’s house was wonderful…

Stephanie March 29, 2010 at 6:15 am

I like the movie. Love that screened in porch!
.-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Honoring the Fallen, Tribute Art for fallen soldiers =-.

Robin March 29, 2010 at 6:39 am

Love the 1939 house(set) so much better. Love Joan in the bathtub with that white phone. In her youth she was very pretty. Norma Shearer stole the show, tho in the movie. Thanks for posting the new and the old. Fun to look at.
.-= Robin´s last blog ..Living Room at the Cape House =-.

Jewel March 29, 2010 at 7:26 am

Thanks for showing the old and the new! The 1939 movie is such a hoot and I never tire of it. The remake was OK. Loved seeing both houses!

pattie and allie March 29, 2010 at 7:32 am

I LOVE these posts!! And I really like this house. Now I have to go see this movie!
xoxo Pattie
.-= pattie and allie´s last blog ..Spring Break! Getting ready for Easter and having some fun! =-.

Nichole March 29, 2010 at 7:42 am

I have never seen either version of this movie. More to add to the list! Now, if the husband would just hand over the password to the Netflix que. :)
.-= Nichole´s last blog ..What Happens In Vegas… =-.

Sue March 29, 2010 at 7:54 am

I usually don’t write in to blogs..but I absolutely love your blog and your passion for homes. I had to write because I just rented “The Women” this weekend, so I found it eerie that you had a post about the movie today!!

Kat in Texas March 29, 2010 at 8:14 am

The 1939 original is one of my hands-down favorite movies. Love the original house with that divine window seat, and I always chuckle at Joan’s bathtub with the “waves” on the front and side. Have not seen the remake, but I do love the screened-in porch. I agree with Dagny–Meg Ryan is way too botoxed. I know age catches up with all of us, but she no longer looks like the “real” Meg. Enjoyed this post, Julia, and a good day to all!

Carol M March 29, 2010 at 8:50 am

I’d have to go with the original version house — so much charm. Love the window seat by the stairs, and I am a total sucker for an old kitchen with a vintage stove. The original was very campy, but when it’s showing on TCM, I end up watching it again. L’amour, L’amour!

Etta March 29, 2010 at 8:53 am

You make me to want to see this movie right now!!!! I love the house!!! Thank you!

Black Eyed Susans Kitchen March 29, 2010 at 8:59 am

Amazingly…I haven’t seen the movie! I will rent it this week though…the kitchen looks wonderful. I did not grow up with a screened porch, however, the house we own right now did have one. We thought we would change it to an all year space, but we love it too much as it is. There is just something very magical about a screened porch.
.-= Black Eyed Susans Kitchen´s last blog ..SPRINGTIME ENTERTAINING MADE EASY =-.

Melanie March 29, 2010 at 9:03 am

I love the screened in porch. I have always wanted one. I grew up with one and we use to eat dinner out there. It brings back great memories.
.-= Melanie´s last blog ..The ever evolving craft room. =-.

Suzette March 29, 2010 at 9:11 am

I loved Candace Bergen in this movie. Great post!

Heather Collins March 29, 2010 at 9:26 am

Your site is now officially part of my morning routine !
Check emails, respond to them, sigh, check out Hooked on Houses for an uplifting 10 minutes before I start my day….thank you!!

Nicole March 29, 2010 at 9:29 am

I think the house is at Rolling Ridge conference center in North Andover on Great PondRoad.

hookedonhouses March 29, 2010 at 9:50 am

Thanks, Nicole! I just looked it up online and there is a beautiful house on the grounds. Looks different than this one, though. Is there another one that isn’t pictured on the website?


Hip Hip Gin Gin March 29, 2010 at 9:35 am

I love the movie house posts so much!!!
I’ve seen both versions of this movie, and loved them both, but I feel like they are so different I can’t really pick which I like better. The original is so great but I have a soft spot for the cast in the remake, love all those ladies especially Meg. That scene when she is eating a stick of butter dipped in sugar and cocoa because she is upset and doesn’t keep candy in the house?! Oy. Hilarious, but this is why one always keeps an emergency chocolate bar hidden somewhere!
Mary’s house (the remake version) is so gorgeous and I love that they made references to her doing a lot of the decorating and renovating herself. If I ever have a big screened porch like that I will be one happy lady.
.-= Hip Hip Gin Gin´s last blog ..Simple Pleasures =-.

Rhianna March 29, 2010 at 9:36 am

I absolutely loved this movie. I have not watched the older version yet, but I plan to. I love Mary’s kitchen and Silvie’s office.
.-= Rhianna´s last blog ..DomestiKatedLife. is having a giveaway! =-.

Kim March 29, 2010 at 9:40 am

Julia, again a fabulous post! I adore you site! Again, I learn something new. I have never seen this movie and now I am going to rent it. And I also agree with you about the screened in porch as a favorite. I want to see the movie if only for the house!
.-= Kim´s last blog ..White shell wreath! =-.

Susan March 29, 2010 at 9:44 am

I watched this movie principally for the interiors. When I heard of all the production difficulties, I was not expecting much. I have seen the original many times and it is witty, catty and smart. It’s a tough act to follow. I agree with you about Meg Ryan’s new look. What has she done to herself? She was always so adorable, now it’s hard to look at her. If she had allowed herself to age more gracefully she would be so much more attractive. Now it’s hard for me to look at her. In comparing the two homes, the first Mary Haines home reflects her personality. It’s sunny, friendly and welcoming. In the more recent one, while it’s a lovely home, I just don’t get quite the same vibe. That’s just my opinion, which I agree may be a bit biased. I love your posts and try to visit you each day! Thanks for the excellent job you do!!

Susan and Bentley
.-= Susan´s last blog ..Brown Bag Lunch Recipe #1 =-.

Amanda @ Serenity Now March 29, 2010 at 10:44 am

I think I like the house in the original movie better than the newer version! Thank you for not only offering us some neat views of the homes, but also some cool insight into how the films were made/the actors’ backgrounds, etc. :) I do love that screened in porch!!

Meadowlark March 29, 2010 at 10:47 am

For the record – Rosalind Russell shines in AUNTIE MAME. More than any other movie. Now THERE is an amazing house/set.


Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog March 29, 2010 at 11:06 am

I’m liking the brass and gold details of the kitchen!

Mercedes March 29, 2010 at 11:15 am

Great post , Julia, as always!!!
For me the best of this movie was the house too!!!
Mondays are my favourite web day, you find incredible pictures
greetings from autumm in buenos aires

Sharon March 29, 2010 at 11:15 am

I think the house used for this movie is for sale in Dover, MA.

diana March 29, 2010 at 11:34 am

always look forward to your movie posts… am now lusting for a screen porch… and
off to find the original movie… I think I love that house. Thanks for your work and sharing.
.-= diana´s last blog ..Maine Kitchen Phase 1 =-.

Billy March 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I drove from San Diego to San Francisco to see this movie opening night with friends; the consensus was “The Opposite Sex” (56), was a better remake even with the addition of men and music. (June Allyson sang…a lot, although Joan Collins did play a last-line-of-the-film very well)

The latest house come across as one planed in the the late 20’s and built during the 30’s: interior embellishments were cut back to save money. Or the interior was stripped down in the 50’s to fit the style of the time.

Sorry for being a broken record, IE the original is better, and thanx for the post

Lesley @ TheDesignFile March 29, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I’m amazed that even though I often haven’t seen the movies in your posts, I love reading them just the same. Great insight along with an interesting movie review. Thanks!
.-= Lesley @ TheDesignFile´s last blog ..Mirrored furnishings: Are they in or out? =-.

Evelyn March 29, 2010 at 4:12 pm

I loved both houses…I still especially like the sheer criss cross curtains in the original movie. There’s something about them that makes a house seem so homey….I still use them in my master bathroom. I don’t care that they’re out of style…my bathroom is decorated in a very old fashioned design…not trendy…but I like it. The kitchen in the original looks so out of date to our modern eyes but was so state of the art for 1939. My grandmothers would’ve killed for a kitchen like that.
And Meg….please stop with the injections…you don’t look like your cute self anymore. Please age gracefully and naturally…we’ll still love you. Thanks for a great post!

Susan March 29, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Julia-I have seen both versions of the movie and and there is a world of difference—even in the type of women cast. I do love that traditional red brick house. It looks as if the screened porch is a side wing which a look I love. That arched shell book alcove in the original is another favorite! Canidice Bergen and Cloris Leachman never disappoint me!
.-= Susan´s last blog ..The Food Network Has Found My Secret =-.

Carmen March 29, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Meg Ryan doesn’t look like herself because she looks weird. Plastic surgery. It’s sad really. She was so pretty before.

I’ve never seen the original of this nor the new one. The house is really nice.

I almost checked out His Girl Friday but decided against it. Maybe I’ll get it next time.
.-= Carmen´s last blog ..Easter Menu =-.

Rachel March 29, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I am loving that screened-in porch! Makes me ready for SPRING!
.-= Rachel´s last blog ..What’s Next After Your Child’s Graduation? =-.

Donna March 30, 2010 at 8:06 pm

I’ve always loved the house in the original film. And I’ve always loved Norma Shearer who makes a wonderful Mary Haine. The light, crystal, upolstery, warmth in the first film was missing from the 2nd which looked as disheveled as Met Ryan. And by the way, Kate and Leopold could have been a really great fun film but I couldn’t get past Meg’s hair in that movie – it was a mess!

Thank you for doing The Women!

Donna March 30, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Evelyn, the curtains in your bath are called Prisillas and they were very popular especially in dotted swiss. I love them too and they can be f0und in lots of old movies: Andy Hardy’s, Since You Went Away, The Bishop’s Wife, etc. They are a classic and I’ll bet they’re lovely!

Susan March 31, 2010 at 7:50 am
hookedonhouses March 31, 2010 at 8:01 am

Thank you! That solves the mystery of both where it’s located and whether they filmed inside the actual house (those photos show that they did!). -Julia

Angela April 1, 2010 at 7:02 am

OH MY GOODNESS – I just thought of another awesome Meg Ryan house – “When a Man Loves a Woman” with Andy Garcia…that house in San Fran (I think)…it’s mission style, quite beautiful!!!

~angela @ peonypatch
.-= Angela´s last blog ..I’m a Cat… =-.

Andrea April 2, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I’ve loved the original version so much, seeing the interiors is a real thrill. Way back in the 50’s my mother and I used to visit a friend of hers who had Priscilla curtains and open shelves in the windows, just like this. Her shelves held a beautiful collection of blue glass pieces. The light would shine through them and make her living room seem like a piece of Heaven.

devil April 5, 2010 at 10:49 am

I loved, LOVED the 1939 version of The Women. The remake was terrible…mostly because Meg Ryan was totally wrong for the part of Mary Haines and gives a very bad performance. Plus, her awful plastic surgery is so distracting (mean, but true).

And, yes, the repeated, not-so-subtle advertising of Dove products was just plain tacky.

On a positive note, the Haines house in the remake was lovely.

The interiors in the original film were so lovely that it makes one have to watch the film many times to catch all the loveliness. You wouldn’t want to get distracted and miss any of the great, snappy dialogue. Save the set-watching for the fifth or sixth time you watch the movie.

Joan April 8, 2010 at 3:43 pm

This comment is late…I am a little behind on reading my favorite blogs. I just had to leave a comment. The original version is my favorite of this movie. I have seen it multiple times. I think Norma Sharer was wonderful as the wounded wife. She played the part so well that you couldn’t help but empathize with her and likewise hate the character played by Joan Crawford. Mary Haines had so much dignity in her handling of the situation. It may not be totally realistic but she was such a gentle soul. I found myself wishing I was like her and if I was in the same situation I would like to handle myself as respectfully as she did. Instead I would probably be a crazy lady! Joan @Americana By Candlelight

mary April 12, 2010 at 9:15 am

Love to see house from “meet the Parents” and “wedding Crashers” !

Alina July 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Could you pleaso do an article about Maggie Rice`s house in City of angels?

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