A Malibu housewife shows up at a UCLA outdoor feminist literary reading wearing a two-piece Pucci dress, teased hair and a chain with the word "LOVE" in gold nestling at her throat, and applauds like mad for her best friend from Smith, '59. You need hardly be told that before the evening is out she will bring her own manuscript out of its box. A man in a three-piece suit holds up his glass to an stewardess once again and leans toward the woman next to him, saying, "It was hard at first -- a real adjustment." You need hardly be told that this ill-matched, slightly glazed couple will soon be in the same airplane bathroom at the same time. A book publisher, thinking he has finally been given an overdue manuscript, is informed that this is not it, but that the author is now "closing in on" the book he wants. You need hardly be told that the author hasn't started that book yet. A middle-aged minor celebrity looks deeply at the handsome 22-year-old who has come to interview her for Rolling Stone. You need hardly be told that she will soon be quoting Yeats to him. This particular kind of social satire, a quick and deft combination of fashions in clothes, words and romance, can be done better on the screen than in books, where it requires the enumeration of too many details, or on stage, where the details can't be seen. "Rich and Famous," directed by George Cukor, does it brilliantly. For example, Yeats was in and Eliot out for 1959 New England English majors, all of whom reach for him still at crucial moments. But "Rich and Famous" is not just a social satire, any more than it's just a woman's picture when that term is used to mean stylish trash, such as "Mommie Dearest." It has a cheerful point to make about the resources and resilience of bright, middle-aged women. Candice Bergen and Jacqueline Bisset, two beauties with crow's feet, play the college friends who become writers, going, over a period of 20 years, from one posture to another. The Bergen character, divinely comical, hits all the crests of success, while the Bisset character, with a kind of wistful charm -- she drags Dorothy Parker's name into the conversation too many times in connection with herself -- takes the sideline intellectual approach. But the effect, as they keep changing and adapting, is to show that they are really, in their funny ways, extraordinary people. A film from a man's point of view, which this certainly is not, would have let an over- curled hairdo and over-anxious party look summarize and dismisse the housewife character. Or, at a later stage of the Bergen character's career, it would consider her frozen as hopelessly asexual and selfish because she excuses herself from her husband's embrace to jot down a plot idea. Just the clothes they wear, each design by Theoni V. Aldredge being perfect for its moment, would seem to tell you all you needed to know about these women. But cumulatively the picture shows you that they are richer than any one social role. These are women who fall for everything, but get up again. They are the victims of no one and nothing -- certainly not of a society in which they can always triumph, no matter how often the rules are changed on them. --J.M. RICH AND FAMOUS -- AMC Carrollton, AMC Skyline, K-B Fine Arts, Loehmann's Plaza, NTI Tysons Corner, NTI White Flint, Showcase Bradlick, Tenley Circle, Wheaton Plaza and Village Mall.