The Stepford Wives (1975)

stepford wives poster 1975 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Retro, enjoyable, still worth exploring

Hard to get past basic concept of the story

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Stepford Wives

Studio: Palomor Pictures

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s): February 12, 1975

MPAA Rating: PG

stepford wives katharine ross paula prentiss

I would watch a detective series around these two where they try to solve crimes in suburban America

Joanna Eberhart (Katharine Ross) and her husband Walter (Peter Masterson) are leaving New York City to raise their family in the small town of Stepford.  Joanna finds something disturbing in Stepford.  The men are all part of a group called the Men’s Association while the Stepford wives only seem to be interested in housework and cleaning.  With another new Stepford arrival named Bobbie (Paula Prentiss), Joanna is trying to find out if there is something wrong in Stepford…but the danger is growing closer!

Directed by Bryan Forbes, The Stepford Wives is a horror suspense thriller.  The film is based on the Ira Levin 1972 novel.  The movie initially performed poorly in the theater, but it gained a cult following over the years.

The term “Stepford” has become a term for someone who is brainwashed by the system.  While The Stepford Wives does do a good job raising the level of tension, there are aspects of this story that don’t necessarily work…but also watching it now, it has to be considered that it was another time.

stepford wives ending katharine ross robot eyes

I see you

The movie largely is set-up like Levin’s previous famous work Rosemary’s Baby.  Joanna senses something is wrong with the people around her, no one believes her, and eventually her husband is wooed by the other men in the town.  It is a slow burn that has the character falling into a trap that she can see closing…that is the terror.  There were complaints that the movie was sexist, but that is kind of the point.  The male characters in the film are trying to force their wives to fit their own perception of what they want from a wife with the wives having no opinions.

I have a soft spot for Katharine Ross.  I love both The Graduate and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  I also like the chemistry and detective team of Ross and Paula Prentiss.  I wish that the film had a stronger male leader than Patrick O’Neal, but it could be argued the fact that he isn’t very dynamic is also scary…he’s just a regular guy controlling the women of the town.

stepford wives ending katharine ross grocery store

With all the advanced robot technology, can’t they find an easier way to shop?

The basic concept of the movie is problematic.  The men are replacing their wives with animatronics like those found at Disneyland…I’ve seen the Hall of Presidents and in the 1970s (and even today), there are worlds of technological setbacks as part of this plan.  It is a good set-up, but hard to get past the unrealistic nature since they try so hard to tie it to reality.  The film also has that soft, 1970s look to it that viewers might or might not like.

The Stepford Wives is a classic, but mostly in concept.  The natural horror of the situation holds, but the movie is a bit dated.  I enjoy the movie and like the movie because of the nostalgia, but it often feels ridiculous in the execution and the ability to suspend reality to accept the story.  The film did have a remake starring Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick in 2004, but the movie was poorly received.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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