The Stepford Wives is a film with a lot of unfulfilled potential. The plot revolves around strange goings on in the suburban area of Stepford. A new couple move into the area and the wife (Katherine Ross) soon realises something is afoot. It all seems to resolve around a secretive men's organisation.
There are a number of problem's with this film. Whilst the 70's was the classic area of paranoia films (think "The Parallax View", "All the president's men" etc), director Bryan Forbes fails to really convey the paranoia, tension and suspense needed. When compared to Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" (another adaptation from an Ira Levin novel) it falls very flat indeed.
The screenplay is not particularly strong. I'd be interested to seen William Goldman's original script - apparently Forbes completely rewrote it.
The casting is all wrong too. According to the original novel (and Goldman's original screenplay) the wives themselves are supposed to playboy bunny types - the complete embodiment of the American ideal of a perfect woman. Nanette Newman may be a good actress, but centrefold material she is not. This somewhat destroys the husbands' motives. If you are going to make a replacement wife, you are going to make her as perfect as possible.
It was rumoured that De Palma was considered for the director's role - I think this would have been a far more interesting film with him at the helm.
Still, some of the concepts and themes are interesting - which in some ways makes it all the more disappointing that the final result is so flat.
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