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Episode 115 - The Stepford Wives (w/ Carina Chocano)


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Poll: Episode 115 - The Stepford Wives (w/ Carina Chocano) (24 member(s) have cast votes)

Should The Stepford Wives (1975) be inducted into The Canon?

  1. Yes (18 votes [75.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 75.00%

  2. No (6 votes [25.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 25.00%

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#1 Dalton Maltz

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 10:49 PM

Writer Carina Chocano joins Amy this week to discuss the original 1975 horror/thriller “The Stepford Wives.” First, Carina tells Amy about her new book You Play The Girl, and then they get into “The Stepford Wives,” noting how the film plays to director Bryan Forbes’ strengths and what it says about the power of perspective. They pick apart the use of sound design in the film, how it deals with themes of cultural abuse, and its lasting impact.

#2 phred2321

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 05:05 AM

Enjoyed the film when I watched it this week, but I was kinda on the fence about voting for it. However after listening to this episode I was completely won over and am enthusiastically voting yes.

#3 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 08:57 AM

Poor, forgotten Jeremy Renner.

#4 Johnny Pomatto

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 07:45 PM

I feel really conflicted about this, because like with last week's 9 TO 5, I appreciate more what this film represents than I do the actual execution. I had seen this many years ago and remembered being very affected and frightened by it at a young age, but my more recent memories of the story were tainted by the atrocious remake. I really appreciate how Amy and Carina speculated the conflicted reluctance that the husbands seem to feel in this film, because I always thought that you could make an entire different film from their point of view. There seems to be so much unexplored on their end, just in envisioning the logic and means surrounding their plot. But even though this film is virtually entirely from the point of view of Ross' character, I feel like too much of this film's message and meaning is muddled by the male gaze. Specifically, I feel like Ira Levin's source, William Goldman's screenplay, and Bryan Forbes' direction are sometimes at odds with one another. I think there are individual scenes and moments in the film's first two thirds that are really exceptional and provide a growing sense of dread and paranoia, but too much of that gets undercut by a rather silly conclusion that feels content with sacrificing the film's early subtle nuance in favor of a Twilight Zone twist. By contrast, I think both Rosemary's Baby and Get Out commit to their ideas and metaphors better, and lead to more satisfying conclusions. For that reason, I think I'm going to have to vote a reluctant No to allowing The Stepford Wives into The Canon. I don't feel great about it, and Amy and Carina's arguments were nearly able to sway me to their side, but ultimately the film didn't age as well for me as much as I had hoped it would.

#5 Riot71

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 11:56 AM

The first time I saw The Stepford Wives I was really young. It had to have been on television when KTLA or KCOP were having one of their "strange movie" theme weeks. And I remember being horrified. I didn't know anything about feminism or patriarchy at the time, but my father was an ordained Baptist minister and liked to prattle on about how the man was the "head of the household" and women were there to serve. The film really stuck w/ me. I've watched the movie numerous times since and even though it's dated (not by much), the dark, satirical edge of the film is still sharp today as it was in 1975. I'm voting yes for those reasons plus the impact it's had on other films as well as inspiring the surperb "Get Out" and the goofy, but fun Stepford Teens movie from the 90's "Disturbing Behavior."

#6 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 01:00 PM

I wasn't sure how well this would hold up, but after watching it last week it was pretty easy to vote yes.

It's not a film with impeccable execution, but it's generally solid (especially as compared to the confused remake). While I obviously recognize the feminist angle, what stood out to me was that The Stepford Wives also works beautifully as a general critique of "white flight" and suburban life. Moving out of the city means that you are disconnected from culture, new job opportunities, and the world at large. Yes, it's supposedly "safer," but there is a cost: you become bored and robotic. Even the men have little else to do but go to the "men's club," where they are indoctrinated into a sinister plot.

Anyway, I could quibble with some dated aspects here and there, but The Stepford Wives is easily pushed over the top because of its obvious impact on the culture. Not just for having influenced a lot of other horror movies (Get Out being the latest example, and one of the best), but also the language. You come up with a description of "Stepford anything" and people instantly know what you mean. That tells me that future generations will definitely want to see this film.

#7 FictionIsntReal

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 03:46 PM

I watched this specifically because of Get Out and was really disappointed. It seemed like a cheap tv movie. The idea and title have cemented their place in pop-culture consciousness, but those are both from Ira Levin's book. Hardly anything from the film itself seems to have endured, or deserved to do so. I don't think I've seen any of Forbes' other films, nor do I intend to. Jordan Peele did a far more impressive job in his first feature than Forbes did relatively late in his career.

Ira Levin may not have been able to personally relate to the situation of women, but another big component of the film is an urbanite's anxieties over leaving downtown for the suburbs. As a lifelong New Yorker, he could have put some of himself into that.

A different Nicole Kidman remake of a scifi horror film* inspired Robin Hanson's post on Pod People Paternalism, but I suppose some of it applies here as well.
*Thankfully, I've seen neither.

#8 brianinLR

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 11:22 PM

This was one of those Saturday afternoon Million Dollar Movies when I was a kid. I saw it a lot for a year and then not since then.
I'm surprised how much of it I remember. And I'm sure I walked around as a 7 year old quoting Bobbie. I was just going to have it on while I did some work but got sucked in and It's mostly solid. The performances were good and I have only good things to say about production design. Yes!

#9 Nathan Roberson

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 07:49 AM

I'm voting no. This is a decent film, but the pacing is a bit off. Maybe it's knowing the twist that makes one feel this way. Had not seen this before, but knew what a "Stepford Wife" was. I was begging this thing to get to its reveal. In hindsight, perhaps that's what made Get Out a better viewing experience: not knowing the details of the scheme. Also, Get Out's humor played better to me.

Again, I think it's an interesting film with a thought-provoking story. Yet I don't find it to be engrossing enough to be worthy of the Canon. Many of the performances felt a bit stilted to me, especially that of Paula Prentiss and the Men's Club. Like Putney Swope, this is a film I would love to discuss, but do not think of as an all-time great.
Check out my podcast, He Hates Superhero Movies, where I hate superhero movies and my friend tries to prove their merit--one movie at a time.

#10 Dale Cooper Black

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 07:21 AM

View PostNathan Roberson, on 16 August 2017 - 07:49 AM, said:

Had not seen this before, but knew what a "Stepford Wife" was.

A good reason to include it in the Canon.

View PostNathan Roberson, on 16 August 2017 - 07:49 AM, said:

In hindsight, perhaps that's what made Get Out a better viewing experience: not knowing the details of the scheme.

In 45 years, people will know the details of the scheme in Get Out. Does that mean they shouldn't watch it?
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#11 TheFanon

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 12:09 PM

This was my first time watching the film (I haven't seen the remake either), and I was already aware of the concept and the twist. I am currently 21, and I still knew what a "Stepford Wive" was. I feel like that alone should be criteria for the Canon, since the film's themes of manipulative patriarchy struck a chord with audiences of the time and still resonate today. That being said, as a film, I think it's just OK. It's often repetitive and predictable, although the presence of Paula Prentiss definitely helps. Maybe unprepared audiences of the time felt more pulled into the story. I also disagree with Amy's assertion that the finale doesn't work as well as the rest of the film. While it might be a little over-the-top, the Twilight Zone-esque vibe really appealed to me. The ending scene at the grocery store is genuinely creepy too. It's a light yes for me.

#12 daustin

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 05:33 AM

Great concept, but I thought the execution was lacking. I wanted it to be more engaging.

#13 Threshold

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 12:00 AM

Voting it in, but agreed with the clunky direction, editing and music. All of which I can probably put at the feet of being a mid-70's film. It's scattered with little blunders, particularly the sprinkling of horror. It rarely rocks up, then when it does, it's quite blatant. Almost like a stop-stop stop finally start.

But the themes and script are just so good, and Paula Prentiss has a star-making turn. Voted yes