The Stepford Wives

1975, Movie, PG, 114 mins


Ira Levin is an eclectic writer who has done comedy-drama (Sleuth), adventure (The Boys from Brazil), thrillers (Rosemary's Baby), and science fiction such as The Stepford Wives. But Goldman's screenplay and Forbes's ponderous direction slow his exciting novel to a laborious pace. Goldman, an often excellent writer, scripted BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, and Forbes proved himself with SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON, as well as many other films. So what happened here? The first hour takes what feels like two, and the last 44 minutes goes like an Indy car, so the pace is alternately snail's and Lamborghini's. Ross and her husband, Masterson, leave the hectic world of Manhattan and settle in the small, tranquil town of Stepford, Connecticut (actually shot in Westport). She meets the local wives, who seem weird to her, talking about dumb things and sounding like Procter & Gamble commercials. The two women who perplex her most are Louise and Newman (Forbes's wife in real life). They are perfect--they're devoted to their husbands, to keeping their homes squeaky clean, to having every hair in place, etc. This odd contentment gnaws at Ross. Her only normal friend is also a newcomer, Prentiss. O'Neal is the important man in the town and runs a men's club that Ross and Prentiss would like to know more about. After much palaver, the truth comes out. These women are not women at all, just flawlessly executed robot replicas of the real wives who came to Stepford, and who knows what's happened to the originals? The only difference is that these women never argue with their husbands, do everything that's asked of them, and fulfill every male chauvinist fantasy ever imagined. Ross would like to expose the truth once she learns it, but by that time it's too late. She and Prentiss are seen at the conclusion as two of a gaggle of Stepford Wives, happily exchanging recipes in the supermarket as they shop for their hubbies' favorite dishes. The film has more than a passing similarity to THE INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, although that was played totally serious and this has more than a few laughs, particularly when the wives are acting in their "whatever you want, darling" mode. With 15 minutes cut out of the opening 60, this would have been a whizzer. leave a comment

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