The Stepford Wives (1975) Poster

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Summer Dresses and Big Brimmed Hats
BaronBl00d29 January 2005
The image of beautiful, not necessarily sexy, women parading through the aisles of a grocery story in picturesque, almost Victorian summer dresses and wide white broad brimmed hats is one of the most lasting of this effective thriller based on the work by Ira Levin. Katherine Ross engagingly plays a women being moved with family in tow from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the serene suburbs of old Connetticut. Ross soon discovers that life for the gentle sex is anything but normal. All the women of Stepford seem to be concerned with is housecleaning and pleasing their husbands. This is a good, high energy film that shocks more from looks and what you do not see rather than what you do see. Helping greatly is a solid acting cast working with a pliable script. Though shot with an almost static effect at times, The Stepford Wives packs a few good punches. The scene in the grocery store and the scene with the empty eyes are just two of the highlights for me. Patrick O' Neal, lovely Tina Louise, and the ever loquacious Paula Prentiss costar. At the heart of the film is human identity and the worth it has/should have. There are aspects of social commentary abounding: the relationship of men and women in marriage, the effects of Suburban living, and the dangers of technology.
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The Perfect Wife
gftbiloxi9 April 2005
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
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Good, methodically paced thriller.
gridoon2 September 2003
I watched this film without knowing too much about it beforehand, which is the best way to get hit by its surprise revelations - so, as another reviewer suggested, don't read any reviews before seeing it, they'll probably spoil it one way or the other. It is fueled by the same fear that pervaded the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" films - the loss of one's individuality. The director's careful, methodical pacing and his attention to detail may make the film seem slow to impatient viewers, but they pay off in some really chilling moments. Katharine Ross is extremely engaging in the lead....and (not to give anything away but) I'll never forget the image of the woman with no eyes. (***)
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The Stepford Wives
EdgarST26 January 2000
It seems "The Stepford Wives" is enjoying a revival. However, it has been a cult movie since its release. As Gregory J. Paris writes, the act of losing one's personality while adjusting to conformity is an important issue in this film. In addition, it deals with man's obsession with "creating", until the day he realizes that the act of procreating is perhaps humanity's greatest gift for creation. It also reminds us of the cult to the mother figure, of the dangers of modern technocracies, of phallocracy… All these concepts are expressed in a peculiar form in "The Stepford Wives", a movie that deserves to be included among the best of Hollywood's second golden era, the 1970's. Director Bryan Forbes, producer Edgar J. Scherick, and, among the performers, actress Paula Prentiss, recognized comedy as an intelligent genre to make a social comment about society, with Stepford as a metaphor. With moving dolls bestowed with graceful movements, dressed in long dresses, wearing hats and carrying parasols, the tone of the sophisticated American comedy seems appropriate to tell this horror story. The connection with dolls is established since the first sequence, when --following husband Walter's unilateral decision-- the family is moving to Stepford, and the kids call mother Joanna's attention to someone carrying a mannequin across a street in New York City: this aspect is used again, most notably when Joanna hosts the Stepford husbands, dressed in a flesh-colored suit. In Stepford, a liberal suburb, with good schools, low taxes, pure air, and business dedicated to electronics, you can sleep with your doors open. Wives are all dressed up, they have no interest in women's rights, and except for Bobbie Markowe and Charmaine, the rest –-when not cooking or ironing-- complain of not being able to bake every day, or would promote for free a brand of starch spray, just because it is such a good product. The funny thing is that the husbands are as boring and robot-like as their wives. They're all successful professionals, who obediently have joined the men's association, which turns into Joanna's headache and builds the tension of the film. There is little suspense in "The Stepford Wives", as we know it in other motion pictures: since the beginning we know that something is wrong, but the filmmakers make us watch the anomalous situation, with Michael Small providing music that is far from horror or suspense scores. What Forbes and company do is to tease us, because we know that Joanna will become Playmate of the Year (check the poster!), following the drawings of an ex illustrator from Playboy magazine, and the technical specifications of a former Disney executive. When she understands why Carol acts like a zombie, why Charmaine hangs her tennis outfit, and why Bobbie turns into a 'chic' housekeeper, Joanna is confronted with her own replica. Why? Because the males can. As simple as that: "Me Tarzan, you second person, you stick to the loser position in a game that I always win". "The Stepford Wives" reminds me of another movie, L.G. Berlanga's "Tamaño natural" (Life-Size), in which Michel Piccoli buys himself a plastic doll to replace his wife. Berlanga and his writers Rafael Azcona and Jean-Claude Carrière emphasized psychological aspects. On "Stepford", while many of its comments add spice to the story (someone affirms that blackmail is what makes America great, another male has been sent to Panama maybe to arrange things for a new revolution or a new invasion), they also point to social and political reasons for this state of things, of this dehumanized community that money and know-how can buy. The technological paranoia enters the main bedroom. The male, confronted with the agony of some of his gender's privileges, his false attributes and wrong values, hits against the female. This may seem pessimistic, but it is also very realistic. The points "The Stepford Wives" made, created a controversy when it was released in 1975. Since then science has advanced. Maybe now they can make better Stepford wives, that cannot be altered by liquor or a stab, but many things related to the human heart remain the same. The problem is still there, because our egomaniac approach to our fellow human beings of any gender has remained basically the same, making the film actual still today.
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"Like one of those robots in Disneyland..."
moonspinner5530 June 2001
"The Stepford Wives" certainly isn't the greatest thriller ever made, it isn't one of my all-time favorite movies, yet I've probably seen it 25 times and I'm always willing to return for more of its creepy, seductive ambiance. Director Bryan Forbes has created a funny/sinister atmosphere surrounding a secretive society of men in suburbia who exchange chilling glances and lines when they are alone ("She cooks as good as she looks, Ted."). It does however feature a very moody and unhappy Katharine Ross at the center, and it's easy to see why somebody might want to bump her off: she gripes, she complains, she stalks out of rooms flicking her long, thick hair out of her face. When Patrick O'Neal tells Ross at a social gathering that he used to work at Disneyland, she balks, "You don't look like someone who enjoys making other people happy." This just after meeting the man! Thank goodness then for happily crass and vulgar Paula Prentiss as Katharine's gal-pal Bobbie. Prentiss overdoes it a bit, but she comes into the picture at the right time and gives it an extra lift. The scenario (a squeaky clean Connecticut community) is gleefully turned inside out to reveal sinister underpinnings, and I loved Ross' sequence with the psychiatrist (who seems convinced by Katharine's outlandish story, which is a nice change of pace). No, it isn't art (or even the black comedy screenwriter William Goldman says he intended it to be), but "The Stepford Wives" is smooth, absorbing and enjoyable. It cooks as good as it looks. ***1/2 from ****
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Heaps better than the remake
dcshanno19 November 2004
I'm sure 'The Stepford Wives' spoke more to the audiences of 1975 than it does to the audiences of today, but this holds its own as decent, satisfying thriller. Really little more than a variation on 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers,' 'Stepford' follows that film's structure of slowly unspooling clues and suspicions and saving its bigger 'gotcha!' moments for the end. Katherine Ross was no doubt the star of this film, but Paula Prentiss really stood out for me. Gawky and enjoyable, she oddly predicted Geena Davis by a full generation. At one point in the film, my girlfriend commented of her wardrobe, 'Wow, can you imagine a grown woman today wearing a hot pant jumper?' The '70s… yikes!

I had the misfortune of both seeing the remake of 'The Stepford Wives' before seeing the original and *actually seeing* the remake of 'The Stepford Wives.' If the original serves any purpose, it is to expose the remake for the gutless, toothless, anemic waste of everyone's time that it is. God, what a terrible movie…
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Suburban Complacency is Dangerous
nycritic16 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Ira Levin must not like women, or hold them in high regard. In ROSEMARY'S BABY he put his leading lady through the worst pregnancy in literature, and once she got an ounce of courage to act on her own and escape the coven that surrounded her, he had an uninvolved doctor send her right back in. And now in THE STEPFORD WIVES, he does an almost by-the-numbers repeat of his previous novel (sans the supernatural in favor for extremely subtle science fiction overtones) and switches not only location but divides the genders, in which the men, viewed mainly as piggish dorks, are behind some shady business and are somehow married to these knockout (yet oddly vacant) hausfraus whose only motive in life seem to be discussing fabric softeners, cleaning at all time, and then cleaning some more.

I presume most people, if not all unless they have been living under a rock or Siberia, will be acquainted with the plot, which in the novel is very short yet covers a period of four months, and in the movie moves along a little too slowly in the beginning but later starts to gather quiet force in a tightening noose, so I won't detail it here because to do so would not only be redundant but could not be done without revealing an important aspect of the movie. While the novel basically drops the secret midway by means of a poem Joanna Eberhart writes, the movie takes its time to let us in on the conspiracy which at the end reveals itself in that final, horrifying sequence at the Men's Association. And by then we've been outraged by the women's blighted feminism, and infuriated at the men who are little more than dangerous cavemen hiding behind technology and deceptive appearances.

I don't know if Levin, in creating his story, was looking for satire or horror but he manages to (again) blend elements of the two in a short yet unforgettable book. The fact that "Stepford" has made its presence in today's vocabulary has a lot of debt to the story and of course, the shocking movie. Both work on different levels while giving us the same bleak ending, but the movie has Joanna conveying even more sadness at the end as the camera moves into the expression in her eyes, and one can see just how much has been quenched in the name of submission. Katharine Ross is great in giving us that visual sense of a woman's life snuffed in favor of a mannequin's programmed existence. For that, it deserves to be up there with another similar classic: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, as stories about the Individual being forced into Assimilation by Complacency and Conformism, and Stepford couldn't spell it out better.
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"Archiac" is not on the word list
Boyo-217 April 2000
This movie holds up surprisingly well, nearly twenty five years after its first release. The premise could still intrigue today - there are still men who would like nothing better than to have the women in their lives be less human. I guess now women want the same things and this is known as progress.

Anywho, the movie is great and if it were up to me, Katherine Ross' birthday would be a national holiday. She is terrific and beautiful and is matched by best buddy Paula Prentiss. Tina Louise and Nanette ("I'll die if I don't get this recipe") Newman are also memorable. The final shots of Ross are chilling, and top off a memorable movie.
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Hardly domestic bliss for wives in Stepford
barryrd18 July 2016
The Stepford Wives was a huge disappointment. I expected something much more riveting. Rosemary's Baby, also based on another Ira Levin book, was far better. This one dragged from start to finish. Even accomplished actors Katharine Ross and Paula Prentiss couldn't rescue this slow motion movie. I'm not saying that this isn't an interesting period piece. Made in the early 1970's it shows the disquiet of young, educated women about marriage and becoming a domestic robot. Many women of the time expressed the need to avoid becoming kitchen queens, keeping a perfect house and being sexually attractive. Some of the dialogue makes this very clear in a humorous and mocking way. Some of the scenes of the women are quite pointed. For example, conversations about domestic cleaning solutions at a serious meeting where Katharine Ross and Paula Prentiss try to encourage some awareness raising about the emptiness of their lives. The supermarket scene of the wives dressed like domestic sex goddesses was like fodder for the college crowd in 1975. It was genuinely funny. There is some over the top drama where Katharine Ross tries take a stand against the town's conspiracy to make all families into robotic commercial style icons of the advertising world. Clearly the movie had points to make but lacked coherence and was marred by an overlong and far fetched story that wouldn't connect with the audience then or now.
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Very Dark Sci-Fi
claudio_carvalho8 January 2006
The urban aspirant photographer Joanna Eberhart (Katharine Ross) moves from Manhattan to Stepford, Connecticut, Massachussets with her family. Her husband Walter Eberhart (Peter Masterson) decided to live in a calm suburb, but Joanna did not like the neighborhood with beautiful and perfect housewives. She becomes friend of Bobbie Markowe (Paula Prentiss) and Charmaine Wimperis (Tina Louise), and when they change their behaviors and viewpoints, Joanna discloses a dark secret in the place.

On 21 April 2005, I saw the remake of "The Stepford Wives" and I found it a funny entertainment. However, the original adaptation of Ira Levin's book is a suspenseful and very dark sci-fi, and certainly better and better than the 2005's version. When I was a teenager, Katharine Ross was one of my favorite actresses, and she is perfect in the role of an intelligent woman finding the truth hidden behind the complacency of such dedicated wives. The pace of this thriller is adequate, and the direction of Bryan Forbes is very good. I do not know why this great movie has not been released on VHS or DVD in Brazil. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "As Esposas de Stepford" ("The Wives of Stepford")
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A feminine thriller/suspense/horror
frightenedwalmarthomo14 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is like a decent lifetime movie. It isn't really horror, more like a hitchcock style of horror or mystery. A woman and man basically move to a town and at the end of the movie discover that all of the wives have been turned into robots. Thats literally all there is to the storyline, a very basic and simple storyline. The movie is also fairly simple but what carries it along is the dialogue, it is feminine and has an ASMR quality.. Not a bad movie.
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Promising story but execution fells pretty flat Warning: Spoilers
So this movie is based on a novel by the man who also wrote "Rosemary's baby". That's a hard task to live up to. OK I wasn't expecting it to be as good as the aforementioned movie but with an interesting premise like this I was quite underwhelmed by the result. It's shocking how little is actually happening despite a duration of almost 2 hours. Pacing is slow and there is too much dialog that really isn't much helping the story forward. With the exception of main actress Katharine Ross, the characters don't seem very important getting little elaboration. There is obviously a lot going on in that little quiet town but not very much is shown. In the end the mystery is revealed but still I would have wanted to know more than the poor explanation of Mr Dis in the ending why the men were doing that to their wives plus how did they come up with these clones. Surely a pretty drawing can't be enough? I hated the ending, hoped our heroine could have found a way to fight back. That was pretty sad for all the efforts she did. I was hoping she at least could have escaped that sad fate.
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Didn't quite work for me.
poolandrews24 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The Stepford Wives starts as photographer Joanna (Katherine Ross) & her lawyer husband Walter Eberhart (Peter Masterson) along with their two young children arrive at their new home in the small town of Stepford having decided to move away from the hassles of big city life in New York. Stepford seems perfect, it seems like the ideal place to live & raise a family but Joanna starts to have doubts about it. Everything in Stepford seems almost too perfect, Joanna befriends Bobbie (Paula Prentiss) who also has her suspicions about Stepford & the people who live there. Joanna's husband Walter joins the local Men's Association & begins to change while Bobbie also completely changes after spending a weekend away with her husband, Joanna investigates the mystery & discovers a shocking truth...

Directed by Bryan Forbes this was the first filmed adaptation of the novel of the same name by Ira Levin whose literary work include the source novels for various films such as Rosemary's Baby (1968), The Boys from Brazil (1978), Deathtrap (1982) & Sliver (1992) although the final script was written by William Goldman who himself has quite a resume including script's for All the President's men (1976), Marathon Man (1976), The Princess Bride (1987), Misery (1990), Maverick (1994) & The General's Daughter (1999) amongst other's. While watching The Stepford Wives I couldn't help but feel underwhelmed & a little let down, the potential is here for a terrific thriller with a dark satirical edge that could have been very effective but The Stepford Wives just never gets going & never fully explores it's themes or ideas. The idea of men killing their moaning wives & replacing them with perfect obedient robots is great but how are these robots made? Who makes them? What happens to the women they are set to impersonate? Why were that robots eye's black at the end? Why do so many men let their wives be replaced with robots? Has no-one ever gone to the authorities? Surely the robots wouldn't age? Nothing is explained in a very rushed & unsatisfying climax which left me wondering why I had bothered sitting through almost two hours of it to get absolutely nowhere. The logistics of the story are just absurd, none of it ever feels plausible or well thought out & even the satire is dry, bland & underwhelming. The attempt to make a social point about American idealism as the male chauvinist's are shown sexist pigs while the women are portrayed as nothing more than objects to cook & clean don't quite work either, it's all so tame & pleasant & nowhere near dark enough & the fact that the script takes itself so seriously doesn't help what is essentially a very silly sci-fi thriller anyway.

Over the years writer William Goldman has never hid his dislike of the finished film & has criticised director Forbes in particular who threw out his original concepts of picture perfect dolly birds in mini skirts & replaced it with boring middle aged women wearing long dresses & large hats. The Stepford Wives has dated, the issues & themes are from a bygone era & aren't as easy to relate to these days, in fact I was amazed at the scene in which Joanna tells her husband Walter about their neighbours kissing in the garden (in early morning no less!) with a surprising level of outrage. There's no violence to speak of & while there may be one or two moments which resemble a horror film The Stepford Wives doesn't go for scares.

Filmed mainly in Connecticut this wasn't particularly successful at the box-office & you can maybe see why, I don't think it's a film with mass appeal or much replay value. The acting is alright, I can't say I thought anyone was particularly great but no-one was particularly bad either.

The Stepford Wives tries to be a creepy sci-fi thriller & make a sweeping social statement about stereotypical American life & sexism but it just all ends up being rather dull & uninspired, I can't say i liked it that much myself. Followed by three made for television sequels Revenge of the Stepford Wives (1980), The Stepford Children (1987) & The Stepford Husbands (1996) before being remade as The Stepford Wives (2004) starring Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler & Glen Close no less.
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It's wife Jim, but not as we know it ...
Beard_Warning30 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The Stepford Wives is a film with a lot of unfulfilled potential. The plot revolves around strange goings on in the suburban area of Stepford. A new couple move into the area and the wife (Katherine Ross) soon realises something is afoot. It all seems to resolve around a secretive men's organisation.

There are a number of problem's with this film. Whilst the 70's was the classic area of paranoia films (think "The Parallax View", "All the president's men" etc), director Bryan Forbes fails to really convey the paranoia, tension and suspense needed. When compared to Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" (another adaptation from an Ira Levin novel) it falls very flat indeed.

The screenplay is not particularly strong. I'd be interested to seen William Goldman's original script - apparently Forbes completely rewrote it.

The casting is all wrong too. According to the original novel (and Goldman's original screenplay) the wives themselves are supposed to playboy bunny types - the complete embodiment of the American ideal of a perfect woman. Nanette Newman may be a good actress, but centrefold material she is not. This somewhat destroys the husbands' motives. If you are going to make a replacement wife, you are going to make her as perfect as possible.

It was rumoured that De Palma was considered for the director's role - I think this would have been a far more interesting film with him at the helm.

Still, some of the concepts and themes are interesting - which in some ways makes it all the more disappointing that the final result is so flat.
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A mediocre feminist fable
pugetsoundads-com4 December 2015
Based on the novel of the same name by Ira Levin, The Stepford Wives film begins when Joanna Eberhart (Katherine Ross) moves with her husband and children from New York City to the small village of Stepford.

Joanna finds that nearly all of the wives in Stepford are placid drones whose only ambition is cooking and cleaning. The Stepford Wives is very much a 1970's film with overtones of environmental pollution,powerful corporate conspiracies,sexuality, and of course feminist dogma.

I disagree with the heavy-handed feminist message of the film which is that most men would prefer their wives to be obedient maids rather then equal partners.

There are a few good moments in The Stepford Wives though. Tina Louise does very well with a small role and it's hard not to feel pity for her when she confesses that her husband never really loved her.
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Orwell called "1984".
parausted27 December 2015
The film charged, indirectly, to the invasion of technology and chemicals to be creating new -adaptables- human beings. This was thought in 1975. Today -2015- the discussion is virtually closed : the technological dictatorship and large laboratories already have created a new customizable humanity. Not only that discussion is closed: also the "liberating weapon" -embodied in the film by the intervention of a psychoanalyst- is prohibited (no university in the world has courses on Freudian psychoanalysis). Unfortunately, the film ends poorly, avoiding giving these ideas to the public.I wonder if the director Bryan Forbes or the film's producers were afraid to express these ideas clearly. Anyway this is the best version of the three that have been made (not even worth mentioning "The Stepford Children" ... a horrific stupidity).
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Not Good, Not Scary, but Somehow Important
Putzberger11 February 2006
You have to be either very suggestible or very, very caffeinated to be frightened by this movie: its pace is glacial, its soft-focus look is more numbing than suggestive, and pretty much all the actors, save for Paula Prentiss who seems to think she's playing "Eunice" in a Carol Burnett show sketch, are trying to underplay their roles but come off as wooden or (if you'll pardon the expression) robotic. But why does everybody know what a "Stepford Wife" is, whether or not they've sat through this USA Network standard? Because, lame as it is, this film represents a watershed in popular culture: women's liberation had so penetrated the mass consciousness that it was now a feature of lowbrow genres like horror films (it had topped the charts one year earlier in a cheesy pop song by Helen Reddy, so I guess B-movies were the next step).

Katharine Ross was briefly the most promising actress in Hollywood ("Graduate" and "Butch Cassidy" in less than 2 years), but this movie shows why she never became a major star -- she's pretty, but pretty annoying. She's acceptable as a supporting player but when she's asked to carry this movie, she responds by acting neurotic, self-absorbed and distant. Her affection for everybody, husband, children and even runnin' buddy Paula Prentiss, seems forced since she seems entirely unable to move beyond her own dissatisfaction -- man, did someone miss a casting opportunity when they didn't ask Ross to play Sylvia Plath. Since she's giving absolutely nothing to her supporting cast, every single scene seems to drag, a situation not helped by a film editor who seems to think it's "artistic" to let every scene last about five minutes past its actual ending. (Note: we understand what's happening to Paula Prentiss in her last scene, it goes from horrifying to banal pretty quickly.) Noteworthy, however, is Tina Louise, who never could act but turns in a performance that's at least commendable although not good as an unhappy adultress trapped in a loveless marriage. Her character deserved a movie, not Joanna the Sleepwalking Feminist, and she's the one you'll miss most when . . . oh, never mind.
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Excellent thriller... something is changing the women of Stepford
midge5610 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This contains spoilers.

This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. I did read the book before the movie came out and thoroughly enjoyed both the book and the movie.

Katharine Ross has these haunting eyes which really makes the theme of the movie very realistic. It was a work of art how the Director had the cameras zoom in on her eyes as the focal point throughout the movie. Paula Prentiss was a perfect costar as her friend Bobby. She was ideal for the role.

I also thought Nanette Newman brought timeless class and elegance to the movie as Carol Van Zandt. When there were complaints about her in the interview... I felt they were completely wrong. In the interview (included on the DVD), they claimed they had to change the costumes because Nanette would not have looked good dressed up as a playboy bunny... if that is the case, then she saved this movie. It would have turned into a ridiculous joke if they had dressed up all the women like sex bunnies as they talked about in the interview. The long sun dresses, white gloves and spring hats brought class and elegance to the movie. It made the movie more believable and taken seriously by the audience. It also made the movie memorable. Anytime someone sees this style, they think of Stepford. In fact, Stepford has become a part of our culture.

The movie and the book both kept you on the edge of your seats wondering what was going to happen. The movie did improve upon some things that the book was not clear about. In the book, we were not certain whether they were doing something to the women to change them using technology or drugs... or if they were actually replacing the women with some kind of android or clone. There was no stabbing of Bobby in the book and Joanna never came face to face with her replacement. It was at that point when we saw she was being replaced with a robot automaton. Having the eyes incomplete let us know we were looking at an android and not a clone.

The book had more storyline about the new couple in town, but we could see them arguing in the grocery store at the very end of the movie, just before they showed us the new Joanna.

So with these new scenes added to the movie showing her stabbing Bobby and meeting the android... it actually made the movie better than the book... and that is rare. The book is still great, but the movie didn't leave us confused as to the actual fate of Joanna. But make no mistake; the book was still great.

There is nothing about this movie which is against women. That concept is about as ridiculous as saying every serial killer movie is against men.

This movie is more about how terrible the evil deeds these men are doing against the women. Don't let anyone talk you out of watching this movie. It is wonderful. I would have loved to have seen sequels made by the same cast and crew who did this movie. I did watch the other Stepford movies but they were nowhere close to the quality of this movie and cast. I can't seem to get enough of the Stepford movies and it is a shame they have not made them all into DVD's. But, I would have loved to have seen a followup to where this movie left off.

As for the new movie with Kidman which made a joke out of this movie... I didn't appreciate it one bit. It was insulting, offensive and condescending of a great movie and a story which was a work of art. But since Hollywood can't seem to come up with their own story lines or fresh ideas... these wannabe's in diapers sit around trying to trash great movies made by others... I'm thankful that when they tried to do the same thing to make a new movie to ridicule Dallas, the actors squashed that idea. The public does not appreciate having beloved works of art trashed by low brows who have no class. Instead of trashing the work of others... they should see if they can do a better job... with original ideas.

But this movie is wonderful. A great story, excellent cast, wonderful script with a great director who actually used genuine scenery and locations without having to waste money building a bunch of props or sets. This movie proves it doesn't require a bunch of special effects or CGI or fancy sets to make a movie with a great storyline and fantastic cast.

This movie deserved a lot more credit and recognition than it received. I can't say enough nice things about it. If you have not seen it… you should do so. It is an exciting thriller with a fresh, original storyline at the time and doesn't have a boring moment in it.
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Well-done, entertaining thriller
preppy-317 April 2001
Warning: Spoilers
**Possible spoilers, but you probably already know the ending.** Katharine Ross, hubby and kids move from NYC to Stepford--a picture perfect town where all the women seem to be absorbed in housework. She slowly begins to realize that something is very wrong...

A huge hit in its day, this film is dated but still holds up. Some people might see the film as anti-female but, really, the men come off very badly. And they are the villains. The acting is good--Ross (whatever happened to her?) is excellent as is Paula Prentiss as her VERY energetic best friend Bobbi. Also interesting to see Tina Louise (very good), Dee Wallace and Mary Stauart Masterson (as a little girl--no dialogue) in the mid 70s. The film isn't really scary (mostly because everybody knows the ending) and a little bit long, but it's still well worth catching.

Also, personally, this film had a defining moments for me. I'm gay, and I saw the movie when I was 13 at a theatre. I didn't know I was gay...I just knew there was something different about me. When they show Ross' robot double with the HUGE breasts clearly visible my immediate reaction was "Ewwwwwwwww!" So, this movie helped me come out!
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Mary Stuart Masterson hasn't changed a bit!
caspian19786 April 2005
Katharine Ross gives her best performance in this modern day horror / science fiction masterpiece. For odd, but explainable reasons, the Stepford Wives looks a little like Suspiria and I Spit on Your Grave. Since it was shot in the 1970's, the movie is somewhat of a time machine that allows us to look back at a different time. The ending's climax makes the movie a true horror movie as the hallway's of the Men's Association looks a lot like the Girl's Dance Conservatory in Suspiria. The look of the movie seems low budget at times, but this simple use of direction and story telling adds to the setting of Stepford. Ross is perfect for the role. It is a giant slap in the face when Ross sees her robot-like self with bigger breasts that her. This adds to the idea of Men wanting to control their wives and wanting certain things from them. Even for the 1970's, this is a giant push back to the 1950's with human / women's rights. Scary and utterly horrific by the end, the Stepford Wives is a success as the movie makes its audience think.
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What a Man Wants?
view_and_review1 May 2019
When Joanna (Katharine Ross), her husband, and two kids move to Stepford from New York City they were met with a huge culture shock. Gone was the noise, the crime, and the overcrowding. But Stepford may have been too idyllic. It was filled with happy and boring families--everything New York wasn't--so something must have been wrong. When Joanna befriends Bobbie (Paula Prentiss) the two braless women, who can't stand the idea of women being happy at home, start investigating the goings on in Stepford. Of course, there was something going on, but the message sent was: you're either liberated or you're a housewife.

The principal conflict in the movie was that the women were too subservient and too concerned about their husbands' happiness, but it came off as too contrived. Like somehow the world was going to come to an end because a 1970's woman doesn't want to join a women's lib group and would prefer her house to be clean. In other words, you can get one or the other: a clean house with a pleasant wife or a dirty house with a shrew. And of course, these men want a pleasant obedient wife so bad that they'd do whatever ungodly or unethical thing they're doing in Stepford to get that.

But it wasn't even just a slight attitude adjustment that these Stepford wives had undergone. These women were now devoid of any authentic personality and they were essentially carbon copies of one another. So, what is it these men were now married to? Who cares!? Men are such pigs that they don't give two flips of the finger about the actual women they married so long as said women are cooking and cleaning. This movie set out to prove that the criteria men care about is very limited: pretty, perky, and domesticated is all they need.

I may be going a little over the top with my interpretation because it could be said that the movie is only about the tiny town of Stepford not the entire country. Yes, it could be. Blame it on the times. I found the movie obtuse and repulsive and I couldn't take Joanna seriously so long as her liberated nipples were boring holes through her shirts. I wonder if her blouses are permanently indented? If they could have been just a little less heavy-handed with their message the movie would have been more palatable. The remake with Nicole Kidman and Glen Close was far better.
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Housewives as robots...
JasparLamarCrabb24 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Ira Levin's story of a diabolical plot to turn housewives into robots is made into a mild film by director Bryan Forbes. Katherine Ross moves to a sleepy Connecticut town only to find that the men, who meet every night, are turning their wives into drones who do nothing but serve them & do housework. Oddly, despite the horrific premise, there's nary a thrill in this snail paced film. Ross brings a lot of pepper to her role and she's ably supported by the likes of Peter Masterson, Tina Louise, Nanette Newman and, best of all, Paula Prentiss. Prentiss is very lively as Ross's kooky friend. It's unfortunate that this very sunny film is not scary in the slightest; it's just dull. Owen Roizman's cinematography is terrific but there's not much else to recommend.
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"I'll just die if I don't get this recipe... I'll just die if I don't get this recipe..."
JAM-3130 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers

A friend of mine who had just watched this film told me that once I saw it, the term "Stepford Wife" would enter our lexicon of references. He was right about that.

Joanna moves with her husband to Stepford, CT. While Walter is at work, Joanna and her new friend Bobbie are both appalled at the behavior of the wives of Stepford, a bunch of milfs who all seem to have come from dish-washing detergent commercials.

At first, I thought that this film too deeply resembled "Rosemary's Baby". The couple moves into a new place and slowly realizes that something bizarre is going on, although it doesn't appear life-threatening. The difference becomes more and more obvious, and the married couple grows further and further apart. The oddities in both films put their heroines in an ominous subtlety that they find frustrating or almost impossible to explain to other members of the cast, and the women wonder if it is they, themselves who are the oddities.

The strategy is rather obvious; after about four months, the men take their wives off to a "weekend getaway," and when the couple returns the wife is another brain-dead subservient slave to her husband. The wives sure don't catch this, even though it appears as though the suspicious Joanna and Bobby probably would have figured it out. Its technical and social references make the film appear dated; It is quite laughable that the Stepford Wives could get their entire vocabulary from recording their voices into a microphone. I also don't see what is so shocking about a guy groping his girl on the front lawn--hey, some of us do that all the time!

Where the film works is in its payoff, which surprisingly, I didn't predict. I thought that these women were being hypnotized or lobotomized, or something else. Where it becomes chilling and eerie, is when we learn that indeed, these women will never return to their original selves. I figured Joanna's friend Bobbie would "snap out of it," however, Joanna stabs her, and the model goes haywire--this isn't Bobbie--Bobbie is dead. Looking back, certain clues for us are eerie, like Walter's first dream-like encounter with a Stepford wife, or even hilarious, like one man's smiling expression along with his "thumbs up," gesture as he tears up his wife's tennis court to make room for his new swimming pool.

And then there is Joanna's final scene, which holds up disturbingly well, as does the thought that the wives were created by someone who used to work at Disneyland. I think that deep-down we all find animatronic humanoids quite creepy, as there seems to be an almost sinister magic behind the lovable robots on the rides we enjoyed as children and still do today. When we meet Janet's stacked (nice touch!) replica, she appears without eyes. It is an image and a haunting ending that probably couldn't be as frightening if it were done today (oh yeah, they are remaking it). I'm glad I didn't see this film as a child.

Grade: B+
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Still absolutely remarkable after all these years.
San Franciscan30 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
THE STEPFORD WIVES is an absolute classic of its type, and there is a reason why this amazing movie has managed to earn such a powerful place in popular culture and even slang terms. It presents an idea that has to be experienced fresh, without any previous knowledge of its concept and ideas, in order to be fully appreciated by first-time viewers.

I was lucky enough to have had that opportunity years ago.

If by some equally lucky chance you personally have no idea what this movie's concept is about and are completely innocent of it, let me pass on some helpful advice; read no further than this paragraph. The movie may seem to have a snail's pace, hokey acting and a dull layout but trust me, see it through to the end. Don't stop watching it whatever you do until it finishes. I'll just say that I envy your getting to experience this film for the very first time... I wish I could be in your shoes again.

***SPOILERS AHEAD: All those who haven't seen or heard about this movie should stop reading here***

Okay, those people will be SO lucky to get to experience this sharp fable for the very first time fresh, as it was intended. I have found it classified under several different categories in different videostores; "sci-fi", "horror", "thriller", "drama", and yes, "classic". The truth is that it fits into all those categories. But however you want to personally classify it, THE STEPFORD WIVES is a powerful movie with a powerful message to share.

The movie nearly threatens to bore you to death at first as it lulls you into a fake feeling of comfort while it slowly starts dropping clues as to what is happening in the creepy little town of Stepford. After seeing it all the way through to its shocking conclusion, one can see that all the "bad acting" was deliberate and just how carefully crafted this mini-masterpiece really is.

The performances are actually all top notch once you realize how the acting was "supposed to be" in the end. Joanne and her friends are all so well-portrayed and superbly acted that you find yourself rooting for them even when you don't realize at first just how serious their plight really is. And the dark portrayal of the character "Diz" (I USED to think *I* made that name up first! ACK!) is powerful, and made all the more insultingly evil when it turns out he used to work for Disneyland; like Pinocchio's "Stromboli" character, the connection of using the technology of such a happy and innocently beautiful place for such an evil purpose makes us loathe him all the more (one gets the impression that Diz was FIRED from Disneyland for being such a selfish and cruel snake).

This movie has often been described as a Women's Lib statement. And, of course, it can definitely be taken that way. But it actually works on a far deeper level than that. There are two levels to it at once: it attacks the obnoxious stereotype of men out there who believe that all women should be slaves to mechanically do their bidding, AND it also savagely attacks the equally obnoxious stereotype of women out there who believe that all men are the selfish, heartless jerks that they are in this movie.

And as extra "plus" points, the movie even makes huge proclamations about the importance of being true to yourself and not being forced to go along with blind conformity. The women are forced against their will to eventually become "bland conformists" void of personality, a strong statement of just how awful it would be if everyone was alike and how it is everyone's individuality that makes them so wonderful and special. This idea is further enforced by Joanne's obnoxious but weak husband; he goes along with the whole idea due to peer pressure, and all the while attempts to drink the pain away with tears in his eyes because he doesn't want to do it but is nevertheless too much of a coward to say "no" due to his desperately wanting to fit in with the "In" crowd (and that's a statement that EVERYONE can and does understand).

This movie is a wonderful reminder of how it is our humanity and our individual personalities as people that make living so special. Many films have made that point, of course, but not many out there have managed to do so with the powerful "slap in the face" whallop of THE STEPFORD WIVES, an important film that still rings true in a world where people's special and individual qualities are becoming more and more ignored.
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Feminist Nightmare.
AaronCapenBanner1 September 2013
Katharine Ross plays Joanna, a happily married woman who relocates from New York to the suburbs, where she has to readjust her career ambitions with this new situation, and when her husband becomes increasingly involved with a secretive men's club, does she suspect that things are not as they seem, and that she may be in danger, especially after the women start to act a little too happy being housewives...

Based on Ira Levin's novel, story resembles his "Rosemary's Baby" premise in many ways, and though it is moderately interesting for its length, and has a good cast, I just did not find any of it believable(would men really do that?) Ending in the supermarket may produce laughter more than horror! Still, this is a cult favorite.
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