The Stepford Wives is about a small suburb where the women happily go about their housework - cleaning, doing laundry, and cooking gourmet meals - to please their husbands. Unfortunately, Bobbie and Joanna discover that the village's wives have been replaced with robots, and Joanna's husband wants in on the action.Written by
Brian De Palma was approached to direct in early 1974, due to the surprise success of Sisters (1972). However, negotiations fell through and he ended up filming the suspense melodrama Obsession (1976) instead. See more »
When Joanna takes Fred out for a walk, Walter calls the members of the men's association to check out the layout of the master bedroom. Among those who come to the house are Ed Wimpiris and the Reverend. We cut to Joanna on her walk outside the men's association building where a local police officer warns her about walking around at night, and Joanna heads home. Moments after she departs the frame, a car pulls out of the driveway driven by Ed Wimpiris with the Reverend as a passenger. Ed is shown to be a stunned, sweaty mess and the Reverend suggests letting him drive the car instead as Ed is "In no fit shape", the implication being Ed had taken his wife Charmaine to be "changed" that evening. Unless Ed and the Reverend had Stepford doubles of their own running around or Joanna was in the habit of walking Fred for hours on end, this would indicate they were in two places at once that evening. See more »
[Joanna responding to Claude's request for her to do his speech recording project]
... just like your wife. Bobby and I tried to involve her in one of our projects, but she had too much ironing. Maybe you could convince her. Kit Sundersen, too. If they could find the time for me... I could find it for you.
Isn't this uh... kind of blackmail, Joanna?
It's what made this country great, Claude.
See more »
She is a meticulous housekeeper, flawless cook, thrifty shopper, adoring mother, perfect wife, always well groomed, always ready to please. But not, of course, a career woman, particularly if her success makes her husband feel belittled. Even today, more than thirty years after Ira Levin's bestseller startled the reading public, we are likely to refer to such a woman as "a Stepford wife"--a creature who seems both perfect and perfectly shallow.
The 1974 film version follows the Levin novel quite closely. Joanna Eberhart is a beautiful young woman of the era in which the women's moment had come of age: intelligent, forthright, and meeting her husband on equal terms. Then she, her husband, and their children move from New York to the small town of Stepford, where she is dismayed to find that most of the neighboring women seem engaged in a competition to have the neatest house, the best-groomed children, the most satisfied husband. Joanna is relieved to find women like herself in newcomers Bobbie and Charmaine, but even so, it seems... odd. So odd that she begins to question her sanity.
The film works on several levels, not the least of which is the macabre sense of humor with which director Byran Forbes endows the film: it is often very funny in a disquieting sort of way, as when Joanna and Bobbie's efforts to start a women's group results in a gathering of perfectly manicured women exchanging recipes and comparing floor polishes, or when Joanna and Bobbie accidentally overhear a Stepford couple making love. But for all the wittiness involved, THE STEPFORD WIVES is rooted in the women's movement of the 1970s, an era in which "a woman's place" was hotly debated on a national level. Just what is "a woman's place?" And to what lengths might men go to keep their women in traditional roles? Unlike many similar films, THE STEPFORD WIVES has tremendous restraint--and moreover a truly exceptional cast. Katherine Ross' talents were never before or after so well used, and Paula Prentiss gives perhaps her single most memorable performance here as Joanna's friend Bobbie. The supporting cast is equally fine, most particularly so with Patrick O'Neal as the unnerving "Diz" and a nice turn by Tina Louise as Charmaine.
Ultimately, THE STEPFORD WIVES is something of a "one trick pony:" it works best on a first viewing, when you don't know what's coming, and on subsequent viewings the film tends to read as unnecessarily slow. Even so, it is an interesting little cultural artifact, an "almost classic" that is sure to give you pause the next time your better half announces he is joining a men's club. Recommended.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
33 of 37 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this