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A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

R  |   |  Drama  |  18 November 1974 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 11,935 users  
Reviews: 92 user | 79 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)

A Woman Under the Influence (1974) on IMDb 8.2/10

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



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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
Harold Jensen
Eddie Shaw ...
Dr. Zepp
Angelo Grisanti ...
Vito Grimaldi
Charles Horvath ...
James Joyce ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

18 November 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Eine Frau unter Einfluß  »

Box Office


SEK 2,455,317 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Lady Rowlands and Gena Rowlands, mother and daughter in real life, play mother and daughter in this film. See more »


On the ride home from the beach, the can jumps from Angelo's hand to Nicky's. See more »


Mabel Longhetti: All of a sudden, I miss everyone...
See more »


Referenced in The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002) See more »


Swan Lake
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
See more »

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User Reviews

Cinematic Diarrhea
13 April 2014 | by (Texas) – See all my reviews

Another IMDb reviewer, Dolly_Lo, wrote a review in September 2009, titled "Don't Accept It". See below:

"Cassavetes was clearly an intelligent, sensitive man with bold new ideas about making films. He wanted to be an auteur, to break away from the confines of the system and bring a new realism to the American cinema. For that, I applaud him.

Unfortunately, as a member of his audience, I cannot applaud A Woman Under the Influence. Cassavetes took what could have been a fascinating topic (an insane woman) and somehow managed to craft a dull film, filled with lengthy, ad-libbed ranting and drawn-out scenes. He seems to have had a gift for capturing the dullest moments of a person's life on film, and it often appears as though he simply turned the camera on his family and let the motor run and run. This tactic would be acceptable if Cassavetes had captured something devastatingly REAL -- or even a kernel of something so real it touched the heart in ways a conventional film could not. Yet I found the performances, particularly Rowlands', to be artificial. I never believed for a moment that she was really insane. I have met people who are truly mentally disturbed, yet I've never seen any of them act quite like Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence. She played it like a very obnoxious, uninhibited woman who drinks a lot, and even that was confusing because we only see her drink once (at the beginning), but she acts drunk for the remainder of the film. There are some moments in which she taps into something real, but those moments are few and far between; she fails to sustain a seamless mentally disturbed character. Again, I applaud her efforts, but effort alone is not enough to make the performance ring true.

Novice audiences who happen upon this film and see its high IMDb rating will no doubt feel compelled to love it and rate it highly, just to prove that they 'get it.' But don't be brainwashed by the hype -- judge for yourself. You don't have to pretend to like it.

Like Woody Allen, John Cassavetes could be accused of solipsism in his film-making, seeming to find his own psyche and his own life experiences so endlessly fascinating that he couldn't imagine that to others they appeared presumptive and tortuously self-indulgent. But Woody Allen at least has demonstrated a gift for keeping an audience entertained -- he knows that a compelling story structure and a good dose of humor are essential to any movie. If Cassavetes had employed some self-discipline (and a sharp pair of editing shears!), A Woman Under the Influence could have stood a chance. But what's the point of making a 'realistic' film if the only people who can stand to sit through it are the art-house devotees and film students who worship Cassavetes as some sort of anti-establishment deity? Without dumbing anything down, I believe Cassavetes could have made A Woman slightly more accessible by keeping the pace moving with an actual plot, instead of presenting a string of 30 minute-long scenes of ad-libbed arguments. If you just make films for yourself and a few of your fans, you're just reaching the already converted. Watch this movie with your own set of eyes and make your own decisions about it. If you are truly moved and fascinated by it, good for you."

I don't think I can improve on this review as it exactly reflects my own independent impression of this film. Dolly_Lo, however, has already read my mind and written it herself so I'll just site her and leave it at that. I would only add this. Take a hatchet and chop this film up. Put it back together anyway you like and it won't make a bit of difference it the outcome unless you choose to discard about 75% of it before reassembling. That would be an improvement.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Boring, and I blame it on the direction Rrichboy
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