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A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

Mabel, a wife and mother, is loved by her husband Nick but her mental illness proves to be a problem in the marriage.

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 5 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
George Dunn ...
Garson Cross (as O.G. Dunn)
...
Harold Jensen
Eddie Shaw ...
Dr. Zepp
Angelo Grisanti ...
Vito Grimaldi
...
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 | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

18 November 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Eine Frau unter Einfluß  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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| (TCM print)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the film after they put the children to bed. Nick follows Mabel down the stairs but in the next shot Nick comes out of the stairway first. See more »

Quotes

Mabel Longhetti: Dad... will you stand up for me?
George Mortensen: Sure.
[stands up]
Mabel Longhetti: No, I don't mean that. Sit down, Dad. Will you please stand up for me?
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Connections

Referenced in 73 Questions: 73 Questions with Olivia Munn (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Swan Lake
(uncredited)
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
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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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