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A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

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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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 5 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
George Dunn ...
Garson Cross (as O.G. Dunn)
Harold Jensen
Eddie Shaw ...
Dr. Zepp
Angelo Grisanti ...
Vito Grimaldi
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 <pcfe2151@cybercom.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

18 November 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Eine Frau unter Einfluß  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Actress Gena Rowlands and writer:director John Cassavetes were husband and wife. See more »


In the scene at the end of the film when Nick and Mabel are putting the children to bed, the boom mic is visible on the left side of the screen poking out from behind the door frame just after Nick exits the room and Mabel is about to turn off the light. See more »


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?
See more »


Edited into Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen (2012) See more »


I Get a Kick Out of You
Written by Cole Porter
See more »

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User Reviews

Brava, Mabel!
19 September 2004 | by (Portland, OR) – See all my reviews

Everyone views movies differently. I for one didn't think we were meant to wonder who was crazier Mabel or her husband. Cassavetes makes a strong, bold (and rarely voiced) point...it is the husband! Mabel loved her children, loved to dance and sing and for that she was committed. Her "unidentified mental illness" seems to intensify when her husband mistreated her and was physically or verbally violent...in my opinion going a bit crazy after someone slaps you is probably healthier and saner than being polite, demure, and rational.

Mabel loves life, shows her love without apology, and is severely punished for it. Everyone else in the movie struggles to calm everyone down and avoid showing too much emotion. While this may be more socially acceptable it isn't sane or even healthy. Humans are emotional beings...I for one say Brava! Mabel.

I think the director tips his hand and proves his point when Mabel's character comes home from the institution. She hasn't seen her children, husband, and family for 6 months and people assault her, some she has never even met, before she even leaves the car. When she does get inside the safety of her own home the people who put her away and told to forget the past greet her with small talk and politeness! Then when she finally sees her children after being told to "wait a minute" she says to herself that she wants to remain calm and show "no emotions." It seems obvious that this is a perfectly acceptable time to be emotional but fresh from the institution she know being normal doesn't allow you to be emotional. Emotions are scary, messy, and inconvenient and I for one am thrilled that John Cassavetes didn't shy away from them.

This movie is a true original.

51 of 72 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Boring, and I blame it on the direction Rrichboy
Best Actress Oscar tonyfyffe
A Woman Under the Influence or Repulsion? sightless
Possible core of the film. nateedwardsone
Great Movie. Great Performances. fake_shemp
Dad, will you please stand up for me runamuckinkent
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