AFI Movie Club: FIRST WIVES CLUB
A deliciously satisfying revenge comedy starring three icons as divorcées dedicated to living their best lives, THE FIRST WIVES CLUB features the talents of Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and AFI Life Achievement Award recipient Diane Keaton.
Watch Elizabeth Olsen introduce the film:
Movie Trivia About Today’s Film
DID YOU KNOW? THE FIRST WIVES CLUB is based on a best-selling novel of the same name by Olivia Goldsmith, who makes a cameo appearance in the film. Screen rights to the literary source were purchased one year before its publication in 1992 by studio executive Sherry Lansing, who wanted to make a movie about female empowerment.
DID YOU KNOW? AFI Life Achievement Award honoree Diane Keaton was the first star to be cast in THE FIRST WIVES CLUB. She had previously worked with producer Scott Rudin on MRS. SOFFEL and MARVIN’S ROOM – the latter of which earned her an Academy Award® nomination for Best Actress.
DID YOU KNOW? Bette Midler first auditioned for the role of faded movie star Elise, which initially went to Jessica Lange. However, when the character was rewritten to embellish Elise’s glitzy past, Goldie Hawn was cast in the role – and Midler took on the role of Brenda.
DID YOU KNOW? The cast originally included Jon Stewart, who played the role of Goldie Hawn’s younger boyfriend – but his scenes were cut from the released version.
DID YOU KNOW? Filming began in December 1995 at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York. Photography also took place on various locations throughout Manhattan.
DID YOU KNOW? THE FIRST WIVES CLUB was a success at the box office, grossing over $180 million. It ranked #1 for three consecutive weeks after its opening weekend.
DID YOU KNOW? A theatrical musical adaptation of THE FIRST WIVES CLUB opened in San Diego in 2009, directed by Francesca Zambello. A different version of the musical with the same producers and Simon Phillips as director opened in Chicago in 2015, and a television series has been in development since 2016.
DID YOU KNOW? THE FIRST WIVES CLUB was honored with an Oscar® nomination for Music (Original Musical or Comedy Score) for Marc Shaiman.
Learn more at the AFI Catalog.
The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions
-What was the funniest part of the movie for you, and why did it make you laugh? What techniques did the actresses use to create humor?
-THE FIRST WIVES CLUB represents the struggles of three white, affluent women. While they suffer from the failure of their marriages, they also enjoy many privileges granted by their social status. How does THE FIRST WIVES CLUB portray class distinction? As the women struggle to avenge their husbands, do you think they are conscious of how fortunate they really are? Can you relate to their cause?
– What does the movie tell you about the women’s regard for themselves, and their position in the world compared to those who are younger than them? Does THE FIRST WIVES CLUB unwittingly reinforce misogynistic perspectives while making light of them, or do the women ultimately find a way to empower themselves without contextualizing their lives in regard to their male counterparts?
-THE FIRST WIVES CLUB sets out to avenge husbands who leave their spouses for younger women. Although the club members identify the transfer of money as the best way to punish their former spouses and to vindicate themselves, they ultimately discover that friendship is the greatest form of prosperity. Describe the women’s personal transformations as they reconsider the true meaning of success and empowerment.
-Although THE FIRST WIVES CLUB broke with traditional Hollywood tropes by featuring the stories of middle-aged women – and was unusual in its large cast of female actresses – it was directed by a white man, Hugh Wilson. Would this film have been told differently through a female lens?
-How would you rate THE FIRST WIVES CLUB?
Watch an exclusive clip of Diane Keaton receiving her AFI Life Achievement Award:
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