The First Wives Club

  • Directors: Hugh Wilson
  • Producers: Scott Rudin
  • Writers: Olivia Goldsmith, Robert Harling, Paul Rudnick
  • Genres: Comedy
  • Actors: Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, Elizabeth Berkley, Stockard Channing, Stephen Collins, Victor Garber, Marcia Gay Harden, Eileen Heckart, Dan Hedaya, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bronson Pinchot, Maggie Smith

At Middlebury College in 1969, four friends, Elise Elliot (Goldie Hawn), Brenda Morelli (Bette Midler), Annie MacDuggan (Diane Keaton), and Cynthia Griffin (Stockard Channing), are graduating. As graduation gifts, Cynthia (the valedictorian of the class) presents the girls with matching pearl necklaces. As the graduates take a commemorative picture of the four of them (presumably for the last time), Cynthia makes Annie, Brenda and Elise promise that they will always be there for each other throughout the remainder of their lives.

In the present time, the four friends eventually lose touch with one another, as evident when Cynthia is tearfully gazing at the picture of the four of them on that graduation day. She gives her maid a pearl necklace (identical to the one she gave to her friends on graduation day), and she has her mail letters to her college chums. She later walks outside of the balcony of her luxurious penthouse in a floor length fur coat, a cigarette and a drink, and then commits suicide by jumping off the balcony after learning through tabloids that her husband is divorcing her for a much younger woman. Her former friends aren’t doing much better: Brenda is divorced, left for a younger woman, depressed, and struggling financially. Elise, also divorced for a younger woman, is now an aging alcoholic movie star who has become a plastic-surgery addict to keep her career afloat. Annie, meanwhile, is separated and going through therapy with her husband. Shortly after Cynthia’s funeral, at which the three remaining friends are reunited for the first time since college, Annie’s husband Aaron (Stephen Collins) leaves her for her younger therapist (Marcia Gay Harden) and asks her for a divorce; Brenda has a rather unpleasant encounter at a clothing store with her ex, Morty (Dan Hedaya) and his younger and rather hateful mistress Shelly (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Elise finds out that her husband wants a divorce and is requesting alimony and half of their marital assets. Also, during a meeting with a director for a possible leading lady movie role, she discovers that she is only wanted for the mother of the leading lady. Shortly thereafter, the three friends receive the letter that Cynthia mailed to them before her suicide. After all three read their letter from Cynthia and feeling that they have been taken for granted by their husbands, the women decide to create the First Wives Club, aiming to get revenge on their exes. Annie’s lesbian daughter Chris (Jennifer Dundas) also gets in on the plan by asking for a job at her father’s advertising agency so she can supply her mother with inside information.

Deciding that revenge would make them no better than their husbands, they instead use these situations to push their men into funding the establishment of a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding abused women, in memory of their college friend Cynthia. The movie ends with a celebration at the new women’s center. Annie narrates that Elise started a relationship with a cast member in her new play, that Brenda and Morty reconciled their differences and got back together, and that when Aaron tried to get back together with her, Annie, she told him to “drop dead.”

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