The Stepford Wives (1975)

PG | 103 or 114-115 mins | Science fiction | February 1975

Director:

Bryan Forbes

Writer:

William Goldman

Producer:

Edgar J. Scherick

Cinematographer:

Owen Roizman

Editor:

Timothy Gee

Production Designer:

Gene Callahan

Production Companies:

Palomar Pictures International, Inc., Fadsin Cinema Associates
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HISTORY

A 4 Oct 1973 DV news item noted that production on The Stepford Wives had originally been set to commence on 1 Oct, but had been postponed due to scheduling difficulties with another production. A 15 May 1974 DV item reported that Joanna Cassidy had been added to the cast and filming would begin the following week. According to a 10 Jun 1974 Box news item, the film was being shot in New York and Connecticut locations and Cassidy was still listed in the cast. A 29 Aug 1974 DV item noting the completion of filming made no mention of Cassidy and added Paula Prentiss to the principles. The film marked the feature film debut of Mary Stuart Masterson as “Kim Eberhart,” who appeared alongside her father Peter Masterson. Nanette Newman, who portrayed “Carol Van Sant,” was the wife of director Bryan Forbes. Modern sources state that Diane Keaton turned down the role of “Joanna Eberhart,” and that Bryan De Palma was originally in negotiations to direct. In 2004 Paramount and Dreamworks released a remake of The Stepford Wives , starring Nicole Kidman as “Joanna,” Bette Midler as “Bobbie,” and Matthew Broderick as “Walter,” with Frank Oz ... More Less

A 4 Oct 1973 DV news item noted that production on The Stepford Wives had originally been set to commence on 1 Oct, but had been postponed due to scheduling difficulties with another production. A 15 May 1974 DV item reported that Joanna Cassidy had been added to the cast and filming would begin the following week. According to a 10 Jun 1974 Box news item, the film was being shot in New York and Connecticut locations and Cassidy was still listed in the cast. A 29 Aug 1974 DV item noting the completion of filming made no mention of Cassidy and added Paula Prentiss to the principles. The film marked the feature film debut of Mary Stuart Masterson as “Kim Eberhart,” who appeared alongside her father Peter Masterson. Nanette Newman, who portrayed “Carol Van Sant,” was the wife of director Bryan Forbes. Modern sources state that Diane Keaton turned down the role of “Joanna Eberhart,” and that Bryan De Palma was originally in negotiations to direct. In 2004 Paramount and Dreamworks released a remake of The Stepford Wives , starring Nicole Kidman as “Joanna,” Bette Midler as “Bobbie,” and Matthew Broderick as “Walter,” with Frank Oz directing. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Jun 1974.
---
Box Office
17 Feb 1975
p. 4758.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1973.
---
Daily Variety
15 May 1974.
---
Daily Variety
29 Aug 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 1974
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 1974
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1975
p. 8, 15.
Los Angeles Herald Express
11 Feb 1975.
---
Los Angeles Herald Express
12 Feb 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Feb 1975
Section IV, p. 15.
New York Times
13 Feb 1975
p. 43.
New Yorker
24 Feb 1975
pp. 110-11.
Time
3 Mar 1975.
---
Variety
12 Feb 1975
p. 28.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Key grip
Gaffer
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Scenic artist
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Elec mus realised by
SOUND
Sd mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Drawings by
Casting
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Prod secy
Exec for Fadsin Cinema Associate
Transportation
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin (New York, 1972).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
February 1975
Premiere Information:
New York and Los Angeles openings: 12 February 1975
Production Date:
20 May--late September 1974 in New York and Connecticut
Copyright Claimant:
Palomar Pictures International, Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 February 1975
Copyright Number:
LP49675
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
TVC
Duration(in mins):
103 or 114-115
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24141
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Photographer Joanna Eberhart reluctantly leaves New York City for the country village of Stepford with her husband Walter, daughters Kim and Amy and terrier Fred. Despite the expansive house, Joanna finds the still surroundings of her new home oppressive. Shortly after the Eberharts’ arrival, neighbor Carol Van Sant brings a casserole to welcome them, but is unusually remote and cool. Later while walking Fred down to the main road, Walter greets Ted Van Sant and compliments him on Carol. A few mornings later, after Walter sets off for his new law office and the girls catch the bus to school, Joanna receives a visit from the “Welcome Wagon” lady, who also writes for the local paper. Although Joanna shyly admits her interest in photography, the elderly lady is more interested in Walter’s work. That evening Walter reveals he has been invited to join the area’s eminent Men’s Association which, he sheepishly admits, does not allow women. Aghast that Walter would consider membership in an antiquated organization which he previously would have scorned, Joanna protests, but Walter insists it is a good way to meet important businessmen. Realizing that Walter has already accepted the association’s invitation, Joanna reproaches him for pretending to consult her on important decisions, including their move, when he makes major decisions alone to suit himself. A few days later in the grocery store parking lot, Joanna and Walter witness Carol accidentally back her automobile into Kit Sunderson’s car. Although the collision is minor, Carol seems particularly disoriented. As the ambulance drives away, Joanna observes that it has gone in a direction away from the hospital. ... +


Photographer Joanna Eberhart reluctantly leaves New York City for the country village of Stepford with her husband Walter, daughters Kim and Amy and terrier Fred. Despite the expansive house, Joanna finds the still surroundings of her new home oppressive. Shortly after the Eberharts’ arrival, neighbor Carol Van Sant brings a casserole to welcome them, but is unusually remote and cool. Later while walking Fred down to the main road, Walter greets Ted Van Sant and compliments him on Carol. A few mornings later, after Walter sets off for his new law office and the girls catch the bus to school, Joanna receives a visit from the “Welcome Wagon” lady, who also writes for the local paper. Although Joanna shyly admits her interest in photography, the elderly lady is more interested in Walter’s work. That evening Walter reveals he has been invited to join the area’s eminent Men’s Association which, he sheepishly admits, does not allow women. Aghast that Walter would consider membership in an antiquated organization which he previously would have scorned, Joanna protests, but Walter insists it is a good way to meet important businessmen. Realizing that Walter has already accepted the association’s invitation, Joanna reproaches him for pretending to consult her on important decisions, including their move, when he makes major decisions alone to suit himself. A few days later in the grocery store parking lot, Joanna and Walter witness Carol accidentally back her automobile into Kit Sunderson’s car. Although the collision is minor, Carol seems particularly disoriented. As the ambulance drives away, Joanna observes that it has gone in a direction away from the hospital. A few nights later, Joanna awakens to find herself alone and discovers Walter sitting by the fireplace, drinking and brooding. Despite Joanna’s pleas that he confide in her, Walter only asks if she believes that he loves her. The next morning, Bobby Markowe, another recent arrival in Stepford, visits Joanna, after having read about her in the daily newspaper. The women strike up an immediate friendship after the buoyant Bobby scoffs at the apparent obsession of Stepford wives with housekeeping, and merrily admits to her own deficiencies as a housewife. Walter telephones in the afternoon to ask Joanna if he might bring some men from the association home after dinner, but does not reveal that he is telephoning from the office of association head Dale Coba. Noting Walter’s discomfiture upon hanging up, Dale assures Walter that living in Stepford is a change for the better. That evening, several association members meet at the Eberharts’, including the stuttering Claude Axhelm, artist Ike Mazzard, dour businessman Ed Wimpiris and Dale Coba. Taking an instant dislike to the frosty, arrogant Dale, Joanna asks why the men call him “Diz,” and is amazed to learn that he once worked at Disneyland. While the men engage in a drawn out discussion of the association’s next community project, Joanna notices Ike sketching her. Afterward, Joanna realizes that Ike is a renowned artist, particularly known for his distinctive, glamorous paintings of women, and is pleased when he presents her with his autographed sketch of her. Unknown to Joanna, Ike has also carefully sketched her facial details, including her eyes, mouth and nose which he later shows the others in private. Meanwhile, Claude asks Joanna if she will help him with an oral recording project, but she is evasive. A few days later, Joanna, Walter, Bobby and her husband Dave attend a lavish picnic at bachelor Dale’s home and are surprised when Carol appears to be drunk, wandering and repeating the same phrase. The next morning, Carol visits Joanna while Bobby is there to apologize for her behavior. Both Joanna and Bobby are puzzled and troubled when Carol admits that Ted as well as several association members encouraged her to make the apology. After Carol departs, Joanna and Bobby decide to organize a women’s club to counter the dullness of the men’s association. On their subsequent tour around the neighborhood, the pair accidentally overhear a couple having sex and creep away amused as the woman ecstatically praises the man’s performance. Unable to interest any of the neighborhood women in forming a club, Joanna and Bobby are relieved to finally visit Ed Wimpiris’ wife, Charmaine, an avid tennis player who plays a set with Joanna before settling down to a snack served by her maid Nettie. Happy to join in any activity to get out of the house, Charmaine promises to support Joanna and Bobby’s efforts. When Claude contacts Joanna to repeat his request for help on his recording project, she refuses unless he convinces his wife and the others to try one women’s club meeting. Chagrined, Claude agrees. Soon after, Joanna, Bobby and Charmaine meet with several wives of association members, but to their dismay, the wives enthusiastically take up comparing cleaning products and talk of nothing else. One evening after Joanna takes Fred for a walk, Walter lets in several association members, including Ike, and they carefully examine the Eberharts’ bedroom. While chasing Fred, Joanna wanders onto the expansive grounds of the restored antique mansion that houses the association and is politely warned away by a Stepford policeman. As Joanna leaves, she does not see a distressed Ed being driven away from the mansion by another member. The next day in the pharmacy, a giggling Bobby points to the drab, aging pharmacist and his stunning wife and reminds Joanna that they were the couple they overheard having sex. When the Welcome Wagon lady reveals that long ago there was a Stepford women’s club, Joanna visits the library where she finds an article about the group which was lead by Carol. Confronting Carol later, Joanna and Bobby remain bewildered when she insists that she only wants to provide a pleasant home for Ted and has no interest in reforming a women’s social club. A few days later on impulse, Joanna drives into New York City with a portfolio of her photos, but is rejected by a small gallery. In her absence Fred is secretly taken away in a truck by an unknown man. Upon Joanna’s return, Bobby encourages her to continue with her photography, then helps Joanna in an unsuccessful search for Fred. Driving by Charmaine’s house, the women are stunned to see a bull dozer demolishing the tennis court and quickly confront their friend who has forsaken her usual sporty clothes for the formal long gowns favored by Stepford women. Charmaine admits to dismissing Nettie, then relates that after going away with Ed for a romantic weekend, she realized how selfish she was to keep the court that Ed dislikes. When Joanna protests, Charmaine insists that she is happy for Ed to build a pool instead. Walking with Joanna later, Bobby confides her growing suspicion that the multitude of industrial laboratories in the area has somehow contaminated Stepford’s water, making all the women bland drones. Agreeing that something unsettling is occurring, Joanna reveals that a former boyfriend with the amusingly literary name of Raymond Chandler is a biochemist in New York City and could help them analyze a water sample. The women take a sample to Raymond, but the results show nothing unusual. Unconvinced, Bobby declares her refusal to become a Stepford wife and plans to ask Dave to move. After completing Claude’s project to record a long list of words encompassing the entire alphabet, Joanna tentatively approaches Walter to ask about moving. To Joanna’s surprise, Walter admits he is uneasy with life in Stepford and agrees they should look at nearby communities where they might relocate before the new school year begins. A few days later, Joanna and Bobby visit nearby Eastbridge with a realtor. While there, Bobby asks Joanna to watch her children while she and Dave take their annual romantic weekend in the city. While Bobby is away, Joanna takes several photos of their children playing and devotes herself to the results in her darkroom. Pleased by her efforts, Joanna returns to the New York gallery where the owner admires her work. Returning to Stepford, Joanna hastens to tell Bobby the good news but is aghast to find her friend unaccustomedly wearing a formal dress with her hair and face made up. Bobby laughs at Joanna’s alarm, then reveals she has reconsidered and sees no reason to leave Stepford. Deeply disturbed, Joanna flees home. Angered by Joanna’s emotional declaration that Bobby has “changed,” Walter points out that Bobby was always a slob and it might be good if she has reformed, then darkly suggests Joanna ought to pay more attention to their home and children. When Joanna demands that they move as soon as possible, Walter insists that she is being unreasonable, but promises to do so if she will visit a psychiatrist. Although offended by Walter’s implication, Joanna grudgingly agrees, but insists that she select the doctor herself. Soon after, Joanna meets with Dr. Fancher in New York City and cautiously explains the odd situation in Stepford with the stunning but deadened wives who do nothing but clean and wait on their husbands. Acknowledging the absurdity of her tale, Joanna nevertheless points out that Charmaine moved to Stepford prior to Bobby and “changed” first, now Bobby has transformed and Joanna fears she is next. Recognizing Joanna’s sincere fright, Dr. Fancher suggests they set up regular meetings when she returns from a conference to which she is committed. When Joanna insists that will be too late, Dr. Fancher urges her to take the children and go anywhere she feels safe. Returning to Stepford that night as a storm gathers, Joanna finds Walter drinking alone at home. Incensed that he has sent the girls to a friend’s house for the weekend, Joanna demands to know their location and when Walter threatens her physically she locks herself in their bedroom. Hearing Walter use the phone moments later, Joanna overhears him speaking with Dale. Slipping out into the rain, Joanna dashes to Bobby’s now immaculate kitchen, but is disappointed that the children are not there. When Bobby cheerfully offers her coffee, Joanna rages at the changes in her friend. Abruptly recalling an incident with Carol, Joanna asks Bobby if she knows what “archaic” means and when Bobby blithely admits she does not, Joanna realizes the word was not on Claude’s long list. Hysterically grabbing a kitchen knife, Joanna cuts her finger and asks Bobby if she bleeds. When Bobby continues in the same unconcerned, bright manner, Joanna impulsively plunges the large knife into Bobby’s stomach. Horrified when Bobby removes the knife without incident and lightly admonishes her for her reckless behavior, Joanna grows more terrified as Bobby then begins repeating the same phrase over and over while dropping cups, saucers and coffee grinds on the floor. Returning home, Joanna confronts Walter with a poker, demanding to know the whereabouts of their daughters. Walter sends Joanna to the association mansion, where she finds the front door unlocked. After wandering through the halls in the dark, Joanna hears a faint cry from Kim but discovers the voice is from a tape recorder in an empty upstairs room. Startled when Dale appears, Joanna attempts to escape, but Dale has electronically locked all the doors. When Joanna turns to Dale to ask why the men have chosen this, he responds because they have the ability and because it is better for everyone. When he then urges Joanna to consider if she wouldn’t prefer a perfect, stud-like husband who lived only to please her, she bolts only to finds herself in a replica of her bedroom at home. Fred lies on the bed, but growls at her before walking away. At the dresser Joanna is shocked to see a stunning replica of herself, complete except for gaping eye sockets. The replica rises and approaches Joanna pulling a pair of silk stocking tight as if to strangle her. Days later, Joanna, in formal dress, fully made up and demure, greets her neighbors while grocery shopping, then joins the contented Walter, Amy and Kim to return home. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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