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A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

R  |   |  Drama  |  18 November 1974 (USA)
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 11,577 users  
Reviews: 92 user | 78 critic

Mabel, a wife and mother, is loved by her husband Nick but her madness proves to be a problem in the marriage. The film transpires to a positive role of madness in the family, challenging conventional representations of madness in cinema.

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Title: A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Nick Longhetti
...
Fred Draper ...
George Mortensen
Lady Rowlands ...
Martha Mortensen
Katherine Cassavetes ...
Margaret Longhetti
...
Angelo Longhetti
...
Tony Longhetti
Christina Grisanti ...
Maria Longhetti
O.G. Dunn ...
Garson Cross
Mario Gallo ...
Harold Jensen
Eddie Shaw ...
Dr. Zepp
Angelo Grisanti ...
Vito Grimaldi
Charles Horvath ...
Eddie
James Joyce ...
Bowman
...
Clancy
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Storyline

Peter Falk is a blue collar man trying to deal with his wife's mental instability. He fights to keep a semblance of normality in the face of her bizarre behavior, but when her actions affect their children, he has her committed. Written by BA Jacobson <pcfe2151@cybercom.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

18 November 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Uma Mulher Sob Influência  »

Box Office

Gross:

SEK 2,455,317 (Sweden)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

To help fund the film, John Cassavetes remortgaged his home. Peter Falk also chipped in with some of his earnings from Columbo (1971). When no one wanted to buy "Influence" , Cassavetes spent $750,000, most of it his own money, to release it, with the sage guidance of young distributor Jeff Lipsky. He helped to "four-wall" or rent out movie theaters to show the film and it ended up playing around the world, eventually grossing $12 million. See more »

Goofs

When Mabel returns from the Hospital, the family is in the living room watching Nicky and Mabel's father argue about dinner. Mabel sits on the chair with her father and kisses him. The camera tilts down and tape is visible on the floor. This is marking tape used to denote where to reposition the chair for retakes as the chair was moved earlier in the scene by Dr. Zepp. See more »

Quotes

Nick Longhetti: Mabel is not crazy, she's unusual. She's not crazy, so don't say she's crazy.
See more »

Connections

Featured in A Decade Under the Influence (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

La Boheme
(uncredited)
Music by Giacomo Puccini
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User Reviews

 
Influence of What?
26 January 2005 | by (London) – See all my reviews

Freewheeling Cassavetes study of a marriage.

I think its a misreading to conclude that either one of the main characters is "crazy". Clearly Mabel has what you could call a borderline manic personality, but there's little evidence that she is unable to look after herself or her kids. The fact that she gets committed says less about her condition than about the position of women in the society Cassavetes is depicting. There is no sign that the visiting kids are in any danger - their father freaks out only because Mabel's behaviour falls outside his view of the conventional housewife. Nick on the other hand is not considered "crazy" despite physically attacking several people and getting his kids drunk, because men are allowed a lot more licence. In the end he is as trapped by the social pressures on him as Mabel is, except his frustration is turned outwards, hers inwards.

When the family are alone there is no problem, Nick's difficulties arise when Mabel is unable to fit the social role assigned to her - notably it is his mother who drives him to have Mabel committed. The "influence" Mabel is under turns out not to be alcohol as we first expect but patriarchy expressed via Nick, and society's limited and limiting expectations of women and of people in general. Put Mabel in a San Francisco commune 6 years earlier and she would look normal.

A word on the acting. Having known people with rather more serious cases of manic depression I can testify that Gena Rowlands' acting is actually rather understated. Falk meanwhile is a revelation to those who know him only from Colombo - his portrayal of the inarticulate, confused, occasionally violent but still very loving Nick is perfect - he just IS this guy.

Incidentally, you can see where Scorsese took many of the ideas for his most personal films from (notably "Mean Streets" which apparently he made after Cassavetes criticised "Boxcar Bertha") although he tidied them up and made them commercial. He even copied Cassevetes' lead here by putting his own mother in "Goodfellas".


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