The First Wives Club
By Mister D
September 6, 2023
Elise, Brenda, and Annie were best friends in college, but they grew apart over the years. They meet again at the funeral of Cynthia, who killed herself after her husband left her for a younger woman. They realize that they are all in the same situation: their husbands have abandoned them for younger women after they helped them succeed. They decide to team up and get revenge on their ex-husbands by hitting them where it hurts most: their money. Along the way, they also rediscover their friendship and their self-worth.
- Bette Midler as Brenda Morelli-Cushman, a wise-cracking Sicilian-Jewish single mother who helped set her husband Morty on his feet financially, before he left her for his younger employee Shelly, cheating her out of an equitable settlement. She later blackmails Morty to get ownership of his business. However, when she realizes Morty is contrite about his sins, Brenda accepts attempts at reconciliation of their relationship.
- Michele Brilliant as young Brenda Morelli
- Goldie Hawn as Elise Eliot-Atchison, a former one-time Oscar-winning actress, now an alcoholic and heavy smoker relegated to B movies due to her “unprofitable” age. Her husband, Bill, who left her for another woman, is suing for alimony and insisting that all of their joint assets be sold and the profits divided between them. She liquidates their assets by selling them to Annie for a very low amount, and Annie auctions them so she can buy out her husband’s partners. Elise also blackmails Bill about dating a minor.
- Dina Spybey as young Elise Eliot
- Diane Keaton as Annie MacDuggan-Paradis, the vehicle for the film’s sporadic voice-over and its central character; an anxious and slightly neurotic housewife, saddled with self-esteem problems, attempting to save her marriage with estranged husband Aaron – much to her daughter’s dismay. After Aaron has sex with her and then leaves her for her therapist, she decides to band together with Brenda and Elise to form the First Wives Club. Annie learns that Aaron is having problems with his advertising firm partners through the help of her daughter, and buys them out at the end of the film; making her the majority owner of Aaron’s firm.
- Adria Tennor as young Annie MacDuggan
- Maggie Smith as Gunilla Garson Goldberg, a wealthy New York City socialite who helps the First Wives Club with their schemes because she was once a first wife, as well as a “second, third and fourth wife”, according to Annie. She fools the social climbing Shelly into thinking Duarto Feliz is a reputable decorator.
- Sarah Jessica Parker as Shelly Stewart, Morty’s dim-witted but manipulative fiancée. It’s indicated throughout the film that Shelly believes a position in high society can be obtained through money and the protagonists exploit her social-climbing attitude for their revenge. This is Parker’s second film with Midler as her co-star, the first being the 1993 Disney film Hocus Pocus.
- Dan Hedaya as Morton “Morty” Cushman, Brenda’s ex-husband, an electronics tycoon, who takes advantage of his former wife’s having signed an out-of-court settlement – just to finance his girlfriend Shelly’s extravagant taste. He’s later blackmailed into giving Brenda a substantial amount of his money when she and her Uncle Carmine obtain proof of Morty’s criminal activity. This later causes him to apologize to Brenda when he realizes Shelly only loved him because of his money, leading to his and Brenda’s reconciliation.
- Stephen Collins as Aaron Paradis, Annie’s conflicted husband and CEO of an advertising agency, who leaves his wife for their therapist, Leslie Rosen. Eventually he is left alone as Leslie runs off and Annie does not want him back.
- Marcia Gay Harden as Dr. Leslie Rosen, Aaron’s short-time affair, who is the therapist for both Annie and Aaron. Leslie has been “helping” Annie with her self-esteem problems.
- Victor Garber as Bill Atchison, a successful film producer, who rose to fame through Elise’s connections and eventually left her in favor of a young starlet.
- Elizabeth Berkley as Phoebe LaVelle, an up-and-coming actress, living with Bill. She presumably tells him that she is 21, but Elise investigates and reveals to Bill that she is 16 years old and a high school dropout.
- Eileen Heckart as Catherine MacDuggan, Annie’s ‘controlling’ mother. By the end of the film, she tells Annie that she is proud of her and that she doesn’t need anyone to make her happy.
- Bronson Pinchot as Duarto Feliz, Brenda’s boss and (according to Annie) “one of the ten worst interior decorators in New York.” He uses his role as decorator to help the First Wives Club sneak into Morty and Shelly’s apartment.
- Stockard Channing as Cynthia Swann-Griffin, a college friend of the three main protagonists, who dies by suicide after her husband, Gil, leaves her and marries his young mistress three days after their divorce is finalized.
- Juliehera Destefano as Young Cynthia
- Jennifer Dundas as Christine “Chris” Paradis, Annie’s lesbian and feminist daughter, who resents her father for what he is putting her mother through. She gets a job working at her father’s advertising firm to spy on him for Annie. This is the second film in which Dundas plays Keaton’s daughter, having previously done so in Mrs. Soffel.
- Ari Greenberg as Jason Cushman, Brenda’s son, who is caught in an emotional battle between his parents.
- Philip Bosco as Uncle Carmine Morelli, Brenda’s paternal uncle and part of her family’s Sicilian Mafia connections. He is the one who informs Brenda that Morty had his stores stocked with stolen electronics, which the Mafia had done to help Morty and Brenda financially during the shaky early years of their marriage.
- Timothy Olyphant as Brett Artounian, a film director who is interested in casting Elise as the main character’s aging mother in his new film.
- Aida Linares as Teresa, Cynthia’s loyal maid.
- Ivana Trump as herself (special guest appearance).
- Kathie Lee Gifford as herself (special guest appearance).
- Ed Koch and Gloria Steinem as party guests (special guest appearances).
- James Naughton as Gil Griffin, Cynthia’s ex-husband (special guest appearance).
- Heather Locklear as Gil’s new wife (special guest appearance).
- Edward Hibbert as Maurice, a barman serving Elise as she drowns her sorrows
- J. K. Simmons as Federal Marshal
- Rob Reiner as Dr. Morris Packman, who warns Elise against overdoing it on plastic surgery.
- Gregg Edelman as Mark Loest
- Lea DeLaria as Elise’s fan
- Debra Monk as jilted lover
- Kate Burton as a woman in bed
- Walter Bobbie as a man in bed
- Harsh Nayyar as Mohammed
Awards & Nominations
Best Original Musical or Comedy Score
|ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards||Top Box Office Films||Marc Shaiman||Won|
|Artios Awards||Best Casting for Feature Film, Comedy||Ilene Starger||Nominated|
|Blockbuster Entertainment Awards||Favorite Actress – Comedy||Goldie Hawn||Won|
|National Board of Review Awards||Best Acting by an Ensemble||Ensemble||Won|
|Satellite Awards||Best Actress ? Musical or Comedy||Bette Midler||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Supporting Actress ? Musical or Comedy||Sarah Jessica Parker||Nominated|