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The Stepford Wives (1975)

The Stepford Wives movie poster.jpg

The great novelist Ira (Rosemary’s Baby) Levin wrote this in 1971/72 when he was reeling from the aftermath of divorce, reading Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock and he visited the Hall of Presidents at Disneyland whose animated figures led to Stepford’s sex toy fembots – which are of course the desire of the contemporary paranoid yet upwardly mobile male. Published at the height of the women’s movement, it was perfectly satirical stuff. Screenwriter William Goldman refused to do more than a first draft so director Bryan Forbes had to do the heavy lifting in his wake and changed the ending in a major alteration which however works on its own terms. It’s sci fi, horror, political thriller and black comedy – something Frank Oz didn’t cotton to in the weirdly unfunny remake in 2004. Katharine Ross is the gorgeous wife who befriends the equally gorgeous Paula Prentiss in the burbs where the Men’s Association rules the mysterious roost. (Diane Keaton turned down the lead on the advice of her analyst, then Tuesday Weld cancelled – we don’t mind!). And that’s Mrs Forbes, the terrific Nanette Newman, as the spookily perfect wife next door. It looks wonderful, mainly courtesy of Owen (French Connection, Exorcist, etc etc!) Roizman, the muzak by Michael Small is apposite and it really is unfortunately timely (as everyone who agrees with Hadley Freeman’s last Guardian op-ed will know.) Beware domesticity, ladies. You will never ever be the same. Times never change, actually. But your life does!

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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