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USA 1975
Directed by
Bryan Forbes
115 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Stepford Wives, The (1975)

English director Bryan Forbes was chosen to direct this version of Ira Levin's novel (Levin was the author of Rosemary's Baby) over Brian De Palma. Not doubt this gave the film a detached, cerebral approach that given De Palma's sensationalist tendencies, it would not have otherwise had,

Forbes made considerable changes to William Goldman's screenplay, further toning it down and removing it from the conventions of the horror genre, leading to an acrimonious split between the two, although Goldman received sole writing credit. The outcome is an intriguing period piece, well-paced by Forbes and with a strong performance by Katherine Ross in the lead (Diane Keaton who had originally been given the role, withdrew) ably supported by Paula Prentiss, its implausible plot about a seemingly picture perfect small town of Stepford, Connecticut whose female members are all subservient to their menfolk, made seem credible by Forbes' low key and typically '70's realist approach.

Despite being a biting attack on patriarchy, one which you'd think any feminist film-maker would be proud of, it did not do well commercially in its day, the Americans seemingly failing to appreciate its irony and women's liberationists of the time labelling it regressive. Despite that it has remained an iconic film.and spawned a 2004 remake starring Nicole Kidman.

FYI: Forbes's wife, Nanette Newman, plays Carole Van Sant.. There was a 2004 remake starring Nicole Kidman.




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