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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?


Katherine Cassavetes (Margaret Longhetti) was the mother of the writer and director John Cassavetes. See more »


In the scene where Nick first decides to have Mabel committed, he's got a towel on his shoulder and a bottle of gin in his hand. The next cut contains the towel, but no bottle of gin. The following shot the gin returns. 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 »


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


Swan Lake
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
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User Reviews

A Bruising Portrait of Mental Illness
10 July 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Eeesh, what a tough movie to sit through.

This two and a half hour movie left me sweaty, exhausted and hollowed out. In its own way it's an extremely well done film, but I don't know that it's an experience I want to repeat. Director John Cassavetes follows a few months in the life of a family whose mother and wife (Gena Rowlands) is suffering from mental illness, and the movie consists of one long scene after another of her cracking up, or trying not to crack up, and the various family members' reactions to her cracking up. Peter Falk plays the husband and father who thinks that mental illness is just some silly nonsense his wife should be able to stop if she just tried hard enough. Rowlands has the showier role, but Falk is the revelation here. His depiction of a husband who blusters and shouts to hide his overwhelming sense of helplessness and fear is superb.

Cassavetes's camera is relentless. We watch Rowlands suffer again and again in long takes and intimate closeups. There are times when you simply want to look away from the screen to help this poor woman preserve a shred of dignity. The highlight of the film (or low point, depending on your point of view) comes when Rowlands's character returns home from a stay in an institution, and her family works overtime to convince themselves that everything's fine when the audience can see clearly that everything is not.

Bruising is the best word I can think of to describe this film.

Grade: A-

16 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
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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