Sunday, 31 July 2011

"You've got water in your water."

Ira Levin (yes, indeed! The author of ROSEMARY'S BABY...) noticed that the play he was about to write contained to many parts - so he turned it into a small novel which was at the same time thriller and satire and would be released in 1972.

In 1975 it became a now film classic directed by Bryan Forbes: THE STEPFORD WIVES.

In a nutshell:

Joanna Eberhart (Katharine Ross) and her husband Walter (Peter Masterson) move - together with their children Kim and Amy - to peaceful Stepford.
Joanna soon feels a bit lonesome for all other women seem to be only living for making a perfect home and being perfect wives to their husbands.. And Walter himself spends more and more time with the men's association of Stepford. Joanna's only friends are tomboyish, funloving Bobbie Markowe (Paula Prentiss) and gorgeous Charmaine Wimpiris (Tina Louise) - but suddenly Charmaine also turns into the perfect housewife - completely devoted to her husband.
And finally Bobbie, formerly proud of her messy kitchen starts to be a TV-ad-like hausfrau.. And Joanna has to face that there isn't much time left for herself to escape..


  • No settings were build for this film – it is all shot at actual locations.

  • Diane Keaton tested for the Joanna part - according to director Bryan Forbes she turned the role down because her analyst got "bad vibes" from it.

  • Paula Prentiss wasn’t first choice for the part of Bobbie – originally Joanna Cassidy had it, but she left the production after a few weeks.

  • Brian de Palma was discussed to do the direction for this film.

  • Before she canceled her contract Tuesday Weld had signed to perform the role of Joanna.

  • Other actresses who were at some point considered to play the Joanna part were: Joanne Woodward, Mia Farrow - because of her success with ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968) -, Susan Sarandon, Jean Seberg, Shirley MacLaine and Elizabeth Montgomery.

  • Bryan Forbes wanted to create a “sunshine thriller” – so most scenes are set in light colors – very bright and shiny – except for the finale of course..
  • *SPOILER* In the scene in which Joanna has to stab Bobbie you don't see Katharine Ross' hand. During the shooting she became that good friends with Paula Prentiss she had trouble to do an attack on her so that Bryan Forbes shaved the back of his own hand and did the stabbing.. *SPOILER*

A nodding aquaintance:

  • Katharine Ross' best known performance might be "Eelaaaaaaine!!" from THE GRADUATE.. (1967). ;")

  • Dee Walles who plays Charmaine’s maid later had the role of Mary in E.T. : THE EXTRA-TERRESTIRAL (1982).

  • Tina Louise is the original Ginger from GILLIGAN’S ISLAND (1964-1967).

  • The Ted van Sant part is performed by Josef Sommer (who here appeared as Josef Somer) - a German born actor who inter alia also appeared as the President in X-MEN : THE LAST STAND (2006) and as Dr. Eaton in PATCH ADAMS (1998).

  • You may know Franklin Cover (here Ed Wimpiris) from THE JEFFERSONS (1975-1985).

It’ll stay in the family:

  • Nanette Newman (Carol van Sant) is the wife of director Bryan Forbes - and some of you may be sad to hear that before she was casted the original idea was to dress the Stepford wives like Playboy Bunnies.. I don't know if Nanette Newman was all against it or just not "the right way built" (actually I don't think that any of these is the case..) - but apparently the idea died with her signing the contract.. She is doing a really good job - so what if the costume department had to spent more money because of long dresses instead of hot pants? I for one don't care that much - for me the dresses are part of the horror.. ;")

  • Peter Masterson brought his daughter to the set who got the role of Kim in this film – it was her debut. Does anyone of you perhaps know the name Mary Stuart Masterson?

You should watch this film if you

  • … are a feminist.

  • … are an anti-feminist.

  • … like to know how my mom looks - that is looked in the late 70s to mid 80s.
  • … are a bad housewife.

  • … are a perfect housewife.

  • … are wishing to get a perfect housewife.

Have a look:

Okay, okay.. This is NOT the original film trailer - but it is well done and the quality is fine:

Never-ending story (= the sequels and the remake):




  • THE STEPFORD WIVES (2004) – the remake with Nicole Kidman as Joanna is nice, but more of a pastel colored comedy – and sadly they changed the end.

Quotes corner:

“A German virgo. Their thing is, you know, to serve.”

Well, yes.. – thank you.

Anyone around here asking him-/herself which is my zodiac sign??

M-hm.. yeah.. Exactly.. - and in German, dear friends, “virgo” and “virgin” are the same word – any pun you spontaneously can think of? Yeah – I thought so..

And about that serving bit, that is completely untrue! I mean… ... Hey! Your glass is empty! Let me fetch you a new drink, dear.. What? No!.. No problem at all, love! Anything else I can do for you?…

Of course it is a bit different than the book – some meanderings are just minimal others are completely new:

The book is more mysterious about what happens to the women..

What I really like about the changes: in the book it’s more than everything else Joanna’s view (which is marvelous for the book) – the film adds a bit of character drawing of the other involved persons. Well, it’s a narrow book – won’t be a very long film without some additions…

It’s a bit strange for me to watch this film – because Katharine Ross – at least in the total shots looks quite like my mom did in the 1970s to mid 80s – well, my mom’s nose is the most obvious difference in their appearances..

My mom still looks like her – well, she wears her hair in an updo now – very similar to the one Joanne wears when she visits the psychiatrist.. oh - and: yes, my mother is a fulltime and total hausfrau.. - which, dear friends, I am not.

Bad cook and … well, yes – the windows should have been cleaned last weekend.. (I'll do that next weekend..) Somehow it’s not given to me to have a sparkling, antibacterial home.. Hm.. maybe if I’ll quit my job..

Anyway the resemblance between Ms. Ross and my mother is quite haunting for me.. In the supermarket scene Joanna looks absolutely like my mom on her wedding day.. even the hat..

Okay, enough of that: What really is the haunting part of the movie (for those of you whose mothers don't look like Katharine Ross of course.. ahem! Really!! THAT IS SCARY!!!) is that almost all the men seem to be so normal. Walter is a sweet and caring husband. And the true horror isn't the women being houswifes - honest: why should it? - it's that they have no choice!

I really, really love this film - and I hope you do, too!

"Why? Because we can.”

The End? Wait and watch!

Yours (very well and) truly,



  1. WOW! Another impressive post Irene. You really are pretty good at this whole blogging thing you know. I liked your statement of Katherine Ross best known role and then the screaming Elaaaaaaaaine part. Its funny because you wrote that to me in a text or email. Anyway, awesome work again Irene.

  2. Thank you very much, Monty - for you are really, really good in blogging this means pretty much to me.
    You remembered that Elaaaine-part, hm? True - I used that one before - and you were the first one to ever "hear" it from me.. - and: yes I remembered that text when I wrote this part of the post.. I just couldn't resist using it again - I hope you don't mind..

  3. Irene Palfy, Like you.. I really loved this thriller. Katharine Ross, is the star of the film, but.. Paula Prentiss, really stood out for me. I also, really enjoyed the 70's wardrobe in this film. Wonderful post!

  4. You are right: Paula Prentiss is awesome in this! Bobbie is my favourite character! :")

    Thank you very much for your sweet comment, Dawn!

  5. Thank you for pointing out this post for me! I am definitely need to see this now.

  6. You're very welcome, Sarah! Glad that I didn't annoy you with that.. Hope you enjoy the film!


I really appreciate your comments - I'll read them all and if I can think of an answer I'll post it. :")