The Stepford Wives (1975)

THE STEPFORD WIVES (1975)
Article #1397 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-10-2005
Posting Date: 6-9-2005
Directed by Bryan Forbes
Featuring Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss, Peter Masterson

A woman moves to a new town with her husband and children, but feels out of place. Almost all the other women in town seem to be obsessed with homemaking and satisfying their husbands, and little else. She begins to suspect that there is something very wrong here.

Sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due; whatever its flaws, THE STEPFORD WIVES has filtered itself deeply in the public consciousness, and has become a part of our culture. Obviously, the movie touches a nerve or two, and all in all the movie is good enough to get by. Still, I’ve never quite warmed up to the movie. Part of the reason is that at almost two hours, I think it’s too long; certain scenes drag on forever, and others fail to cover any new ground. I also think it’s too narrow; despite the fact that it subtly hints that this may not be quite the paradise it seems for the men, ultimately it chooses to be little more than a woman’s nightmare.

I also never quite believe the movie. Personally, I find the town of Stepford as dull as dishwater, and not the paradise of my dreams. I also find it hard to believe that my sexual ego would really be bolstered by the compliments of a robot who I know had been programmed to say those things. Furthermore, the movie never develops the children as characters, but only as plot devices; wouldn’t a child be one of the first to know that mommy has changed? (For comparison, consider the opening scenes in the original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS). And finally, I really find it hard to believe that the women have really been programmed by men; sure, they dress sexy, but not quite in the way that corresponds to any male fantasies I know of. At any rate, I don’t think all the men would have picked out those big white floppy hats that all the wives wear in the final scene. All in all, I think the movie falls short of what it could have been.

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