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A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

Trailer
3:00 | Trailer
Although wife and mother Mabel is loved by her husband Nick, her mental illness places a strain on the marriage.

Director:

John Cassavetes

Writer:

John Cassavetes
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Falk ... Nick Longhetti
Gena Rowlands ... Mabel Longhetti
Fred Draper ... George Mortensen
Lady Rowlands Lady Rowlands ... Martha Mortensen
Katherine Cassavetes Katherine Cassavetes ... Margaret Longhetti
Matthew Labyorteaux ... Angelo Longhetti (as Matthew Laborteaux)
Matthew Cassel ... Tony Longhetti
Christina Grisanti Christina Grisanti ... Maria Longhetti
George Dunn ... Garson Cross (as O.G. Dunn)
Mario Gallo ... Harold Jensen
Eddie Shaw Eddie Shaw ... Dr. Zepp
Angelo Grisanti Angelo Grisanti ... Vito Grimaldi
Charles Horvath ... Eddie
James Joyce James Joyce ... Bowman
John Finnegan ... 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:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Cassavetes could not find a distributor for the film after completion, and was at one point literally carrying the reels under his arm, from one theater to another, in hopes of getting one to play his movie. Finally, Martin Scorsese, who had recently become critically acclaimed following his film Mean Streets (1973) happened to be a huge fan of Cassavetes' work and threatened to pull his film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) from a major New York film festival unless they accepted this film. 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: All of a sudden, I miss everyone...
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Connections

Referenced in Frank & Mary (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Aida
(uncredited)
Music by Giuseppe Verdi
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User Reviews

 
Influence of What?
26 January 2005 | by KrustallosSee 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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

18 November 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Woman Under the Influence See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$13,336,830
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Faces See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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