Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 25th, 2004
The 1970s was a fertile time for feminist movements. This film was amazingly cited by both sides of the argument, never seeming to please either. Feminists considered the film to be a slap in the face of the “modern woman”. It was accused of undermining years of progress to the age-old stereotypes of a woman’s place. At the same time anti-feminists citied it as a mockery of what were considered wholesome American values. It’s strange that a film that was never intended to be part of these controversies couldn’t seem …o please either side. The film quickly disappeared from the box office and was deemed an early failure. That was until frequent television showing gained a cult following that exists today. To many of us this is simply a quaint blend of science fiction and horror elements to produce a better than average low budget film.
What is extremely disappointing about this disc is it is actually just a re-release of the 2000 Anchor Bay edition. Not only are there no improvements, but the extras are exactly the same.
Walter (Masterson) and Joanna (Ross) Eberhart move to the quiet suburb of Stepford. Walter’s reasons seem to be more than an escape from the crazy life of the big city. Here wives are suddenly converted into the perfect homemakers in a matter of months.
This disc contains only a very poor Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. Music warbles from a stretched transfer print are to the point of distraction. Highs are often distorted as well. Even the rather simple dialogue sounds harsh and unnatural. There simply is little of any redeeming value to this sound.
If the audio is nothing short of uninspired, the video is not much better. Although presented in its original theatrical 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, there is little to like here. Granted, the original film was low budget. This transfer looks like an ill-kept 16mm print. There is plenty of grain and film artifacts to go around. Even the layer change is obnoxious and distracting. Colors are washed and you’ll find absolutely no depth at all in the black levels.
The only feature of note is a 17 minute interview piece. Mostly you’ll learn what a mess the production was… from juicy fights about nepotism to several rocky starts to the picture including a sudden firing of actress Joanna Cassidy. It’s amazing this film ever got made at all. The rest of the minimal extras are a couple of audio-only radio spots and a trailer.
It’s hard not to allow the cheesy sequels that were horrible damage the reputation of this film. Katherine Ross and Paula Prentiss do pretty good jobs with the material here. The film’s climax is still quite spooky without being gratuitous. There are certainly ways this film could have been better. Perhaps the more comedic remake will be. But it is still a decent film. There are tons of extras that would have made this a better DVD. What would you like to have seen in release of The Stepford Wives? Well, “I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe”.
Special Features List
- Interviews with director Bryan Forbes, producer Edgar J. Scherick, and stars of the film
- Radio Spots
- Talent Bios