The Stepford Wives (1975)
Reviewed on 2013 January 7
I decided to re-watch the original version of this classic movie; and it says something about how well executed it was, that I saw new little details with a third viewing. Dated clothing, dated sets, subtle as a bag of hammers…and still darn good.
Joanna Eberhart (Katharine Ross) is an aspiring photographer married to Walter (Peter Masterson), a lawyer and a yuppie before the term was in vogue. Her spouse makes a decision to move from New York, which Joanna loves, to the postcard-ish town of Stepford, Connecticut. The guy picked a gorgeous house — I’ll give him that — but as pretty as it is, Stepford is just weird and wrong. In a very unsettling welcome, a neighbor lady wanders over to greet Walter, eerie smile on her pretty but slightly vacant face, setting the tone for the rest of the movie. Joanna finds out that’s just the beginning of the scariness here.
This works because thanks to Katharine Ross, Joanna is a strong person who simply wants her own career and a little more democracy in picking where they live, and that makes it even more frightening. Unlike the harpy portrayed by Nicole Kidman in the remake, she just wants a normal life. This version also has a post-Ginger Tina Louise as another citizen of Stepford who’s suspicious of her overly-sedate neighbors. For various other reasons, the remake is just awful; stick with the original.
Three chocolate morsels. It’s downright clumsy in spots, but it gets the job done and entertains.