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The Opposite Sex

The Opposite Sex(1956)


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At Sydney's salon in Manhattan, society ladies can get a shampoo, set and the latest gossip, all for one fee. One afternoon, Sylvia Fowler learns from manicurist Olga that theater producer Steven Hilliard is having an affair with chorus girl Crystal Allen. Although Sylvia and Steven's wife Kay are friends, Sylvia is thrilled with the scandal, and rushes to tell another of their friends, Edith Potter. Despite Sylvia's subsequent hints, Kay remains oblivious to any possible problems with Steven, to whom she has been loyally married for ten years. Later, the ladies meet at the 21 Club to plan their upcoming charity benefit, a theatrical production. While Kay, a former singer, is busy being wooed to return to work by her old agent, Mike Pearl, Kay's best friend, acerbic writer Amanda Penrose, rebukes Sylvia and Edith for circulating the gossip about Steven. When Kay returns, however, Sylvia suggests that she visit Olga for a manicure, and Kay innocently agrees. After lunch, Sylvia and Edith attend Steven's show to catch sight of Crystal, and although the pregnant Edith's morning sickness forces them to leave, later at a coffee shop they happen to sit next to Crystal, and the three exchange barbed remarks. Crystal leaves to call Steven, who has recently broken off their affair, and although she now urges him to see her again, he refuses. Meanwhile, Kay goes to Sydney's, where Olga, not realizing who she is, repeats the gossip about Steven. Kay is devastated, but tries to abide by Amanda's advice to pretend nothing is happening until Steven realizes his mistake and corrects it. That night, however, at the couple's anniversary party, Kay tries to keep up appearances, but when she is asked to sing a love song, she recalls the first time she met Steven, and breaking down, runs from the room. Soon after, Crystal reads in the paper that Kay has gone to Bermuda, and hoping that this signals a rift in the marriage, arranges to "bump into" Steven and the Hilliard's daughter, Debbie, at the park. There, Crystal manipulates Steven into spending the day together. That night, Kay returns home from Bermuda early, and Steven is thrilled to see her. At the charity benefit, Kay runs the show, not realizing that Crystal is performing in one of the numbers. When Crystal sees Kay, she plots to confront her and incite her jealousy. As Crystal has hoped, Kay goes to Crystal's dressing room, and after Kay calls her dress cheap, Crystal responds, "When Steven doesn't like something I wear, I take it off." Kay slaps her and runs out, and although Steven tries to follow her, she refuses to listen to his excuses. Soon after, she is on a train to Reno to obtain a divorce. Along the way she meets the Countess, a colorful older woman on her fourth divorce, and entertainer Gloria Dahl, who help Kay "celebrate" her new freedom. In Reno, the ladies stay at Lucy's Ranch, where playboy cowboy Buck Winston distracts Kay momentarily by trying to kiss her. Later, at the ranch, Kay is shocked to discover that the newest boarder is Sylvia, whose husband is leaving her for another woman. After reading a newspaper item Edith has mailed, Kay deduces that the other woman is Gloria, prompting Sylvia to initiate a fistfight with Gloria that wrecks the kitchen. Within weeks, Kay's divorce is finalized. Although the Countess and Gloria are solicitous, Kay clearly still pines for Steven. Amanda shows up to urge her to ask Steven for a reconciliation, but just then, Steven calls to inform Kay that he is marrying Crystal. Forced by financial exigency to return to her singing career, Kay, under her maiden name of Ashley, learns backstage that Sylvia has returned from Reno with Buck as her new paramour and is fast friends with Crystal. At the Hilliard home, meanwhile, Crystal has grown bored with Steven, is habitually nasty to Debbie and is secretly having an affair with Buck, whom Sylvia is grooming to be a singing star, hoping this will spur her friends' jealousy. The night of Buck's big opening, Kay refuses to join Amanda, the Countess and Gloria at the club, knowing Steven will be there with Crystal. Before bed, however, Debbie innocently reveals that Steven is unhappy and that Crystal is seeing Buck. Inspired, Kay puts on her most beautiful gown and goes to the club, where she greets Steven charmingly and enlists gossip columnist Dolly DeHaven's help in getting revenge on Sylvia. To do so, Kay follows Sylvia into the ladies' room and reveals that Crystal is seeing Buck. Although Sylvia does not believe her, Dolly soon sweeps in and confirms the news. As Buck begins his tune onstage, Sylvia drags Crystal into the ladies' room, followed by Kay, Dolly, Gloria and Amanda. Kay tries to prevent a fistfight between Sylvia and Crystal, which ends when Dolly threatens to print a story about the affair, which will ruin Crystal's chances of receiving alimony from Steven. After the Countess enters to report that Buck is a huge hit, Crystal retorts that she will elope with Buck, and then tells Steven that she is leaving him. When she informs Buck of her decision, however, he announces that he has no intention of marrying her. Kay spots Steven sitting alone, and when she calls him over, he is overjoyed finally to sweep her into his arms and onto the dance floor.