11 August 2016

THE STEPFORD WIVES. (1975) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




THE STEPFORD WIVES. 1975. BASED ON THE BOOK BY IRA LEVIN. SCREENPLAY BY WILLIAM GOLDMAN. MUSIC BY MICHAEL SMALL. DIRECTED BY BRYAN FORBES.
STARRING KATHARINE ROSS, PAULA PRENTISS, NANETTE NEWMAN, TINA LOUISE, PATRICK O'NEAL AND PETER MASTERSON.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

The book of this film was written by a chap called Ira Levin. As a writer too, I'm extremely jealous of Ira Levin. Not only were several of his novels all bestsellers, but they were made into some of cinema's most memorable films as well. Well...! Someone certainly got lucky, haha.

Some examples, besides THE STEPFORD WIVES itself, include ROSEMARY'S BABY, A KISS BEFORE DYING and THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL. These books of Mr. Levin's were all made into humongously famous films, especially the Roman Polanski-directed ROSEMARY'S BABY.

I love A KISS BEFORE DYING as well though, the story of a poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks who resorts to the nastiest of extreme measures to get his hands on a vulnerable young heiress's dosh. I love the original old version of the film but there's an excellent modern re-make starring Matt Dillon as well which I'm always trying to get my hands on.

THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL is a cracking book-slash-film. In the film, an elderly Laurence Olivier plays a Nazi-hunter who thinks he's finally caught up with his longest-standing nemesis, Dr. Josef Mengele, played by Gregory Peck. 

Mengele, of course, was the notorious Nazi doctor from Auschwitz concentration camp who experimented on and killed hundreds of prisoners during World War Two. He was especially fascinated by twins and performed medical experiments on any he could get his hands on. Anyway, these two marvellous old actors in the twilight of their careers turn in unforgettable performances as the two old enemies.

It's ROSEMARY'S BABY, however, which is my favourite movie adaptation of one of Ira Levin's books. I think I like it even more than THE STEPFORD WIVES, which is also a brilliant and memorable film. ROSEMARY'S BABY tells the story of a young woman who finds herself pregnant with the spawn of Satan (ooops, awkward...!) and most horror fans probably include it in their Top Ten of Favourite Horror Films Of All Time.

You've probably guessed by now why I'm so jealous of Ira Levin. The only books he hasn't written, seemingly, are JAWS, THE EXORCIST and PSYCHO, and that's probably only because someone else got to 'em first, haha. I've always wanted to write a short horror novel like one of these that got turned into a major film and then became a household name. Sigh. Maybe one day...

Anyway, let's move on to THE STEPFORD WIVES before we forget why we're here. It would appear that something decidedly odd is happening in the pretty little town of Stepford, Connecticut, so perhaps we should investigate. Everyone got their Sherlock Holmes hats on? Okay then, let's go.

When Joanna Eberhardt, a would-be photographer played by the stunningly beautiful Katharine Ross of THE GRADUATE fame, moves there from New York City with her husband and two small children (and their dog), her biggest problem initially is boredom. What the hell is she going to do with herself all day when the kids are at school and hubby Walter is off lawyering...? Lawyering...? Is that even a word? Ah, you know what I mean.

Joanna soon realises, however, that she has more to worry about in her new home than the question of how to occupy her daylight hours. The housewives of Stepford are worrying her enormously, for one thing. They're all immaculately turned out in pretty little old-fashioned 'wifey' dresses, their houses are uniformly immaculate and they treat their ugly, ageing balding hubbies like the second coming of Rudolph Valentino... Hmmm. Interesting.

For another thing, Joanna's other half Walter, who by the way isn't nearly good enough for the gorgeous knockout of a woman who starred alongside Paul Newman and Robert Redford in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, has been behaving strangely ever since he joined the Stepford Men's Association, the biggest organisation in town. Walter also doesn't support Joanna'a 'picture-taking,' as he so dismissively puts it. 

The Men's Association sticks in Joanna's throat a bit though, as she's something of a Women's Libber
(which would certainly explain why all her bras seem to have been long-since burned and the Stepford Two swing loose and free throughout the film) and she hates the way the men in Stepford seem to have the upper hand in literally everything. 

Also, she finds Walter's new pals boring and creepy, especially the sinister Dale Coba, and she disagrees with the high-handed way in which they treat their wives.

With her one friend and ally in Stepford, the feisty and decidely not house-proud Bobby (Bobby's a chick, by the way) di Marco, Joanna tries to start up a women's 'consciousness-raising' group among the Stepford Wives but it's nothing doing. The girls of Stepford just wanna have fun, if by fun you mean swapping tips on Ultimate Stain Removal and kow-towing to their all-superior spouses.

The housewives are all brilliant, by the way, especially Nanette Newman who famously went on to advertise washing-up liquid. (Fairy Liquid, I believe it was called...!) They're all so drifty and floaty and housewifely and their hair is all big like Farrah Fawcett's and the other CHARLIE'S ANGELS and the lights are on but is there anybody at home? The jury's still out on that one.

Any-hoo, it's not long before Bobby and the beautiful Joanna, whose nipples in a see-through maxi-dress, incidentally, have all the perfect beauty of a poem, come to a terrifying conclusion. Are the lads from the Men's Association somehow transforming the women of Stepford from independent-thinking human beings into housework-loving, sexually submissive automatons with no minds of their own? Well, I suppose it's easy to see why the guys would dig a bit of that action...!

It all sounds terribly far-fetched, I know, but Joanna's suspicions seem to be borne out when Bobby returns from a 'weekend away' with her husband all prettied up and with, seemingly, half her brain missing. Joanna, frightened that her time to be 'transformed' (lobotomised, more like!) is coming too, decides to grab her kids and make a run for it.

Can Joanna escape the horrible fate of becoming a 'Stepford Wife' with all that that entails, or will the patronising patriarchs of the Stepford Men's Association come out on top once again? You'll have to watch this excellent 'Seventies sci-fi horror for yourselves to find out what happens, folks. Oh, and keep an eye out for those nipples I was telling you about. Don't worry, you can't miss 'em.

Oh, and here's my final thought, as Jerry Springer famously used to say on his wonderfully chaotic 'Nineties talk-show:

'I'll just DIE if I don't get this recipe...!'

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com





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