THE STEPFORD WIVES
Directed by Bryan Forbe
Produced by Edgar J. Scheric
Written by William Goldma
Director of Photograpy Enrique Bravo & Owen Roizma
Music by Michael Smalz
Cast: Katherine Ross, Peter Masterson, Paula Prentiss, Tina Louise & Patrick O'Neal
1975/115 mins/Color/Dolby Mono
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Paramount Home Entertainment DVD
As Frank Oz's new comedic take on the Ira Levin novel "The Stepford Wives" makes its way into theaters, the original 1975 film is seeing its third DVD release courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. Anchor Bay originally released the film to DVD in a bare-bones edition in 1997, and then in 2001, they put out 25th Anniversary Edition, complete with an anamorphic widescreen transfer and several extras. That version is now out-of-print, but fans of the original film shouldn't worry, as the new DVD from Paramount just a re-packaging of the Anchor Bay 25th Anniversary Edition. Confused yet?
Katherine Ross stars in THE STEPFORD WIVES as Joanna Eberhart, a Manhattanite who is uprooted by her husband, Walter (Peter Masterson), and taken to the sleepy town of Stepford, Connecticut. Stepford is a lovely town, but Joanna finds it to be a bit odd, as all of the women are always dressed-up and only seem to exist to please their husbands. The only stand-out is the radical Bobbie Markowe (Paula Prentiss), who shares in Joanna's distrust of the other ladies of Stepford. Joanna tries to fit in, but finds the surroundings simply too weird. As she notices the other women around her growing more and more obedient, Joanna begins to suspect that the men of Stepford are somehow controlling the women and she must do whatever she can to escape the nightmare.
With novels such as "Rosemary's Baby" and "Sliver" (which is WAY better than the Sharon Stone movie), Ira Levin has proven himself to be a master of describing paranoia and those feelings are transferred to the screen by director Bryan Forbes and screenwriter William Goldman in THE STEPFORD WIVES. The movie gives the audience the same amount of information that Joanna has for most of the story, thus we share in her fear and distrust. Katherine Ross gives a knockout performance and makes it very easy for the viewer to get wrapped up in the tension. Granted the fashions in the film are woefully outdated, but the storyline is just as relevant as ever, and the ending still delivers a knock-out punch. I've yet to see the remake, but Oz probably made a wise choice going the comedic route, as it would be hard to top the tension of the original film.
THE STEPFORD WIVES comes to DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. As noted above, the contents of this DVD release are identical to that of Anchor Bay's 25th Anniversary Edition, right down to the menus. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. For a film from the early 70s, the transfer is quite good. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a fine amount of grain at times. For the most part, the picture is stable, although it does shimmer in some scenes. The most noticeable problem is the softness of the picture in some scenes. The 70's fashions offer bright colors, but these are slightly washed-out at times. Defects from the source material are visible from time-to-time. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital Mono audio track which provides clear dialogue, with only a faint hiss. The sound is somewhat unstable at times, with the sound effects being louder than the dialogue.
The DVD contains several extras. We start with a featurette entitled, 'The Stepford Life'. This 18-minute treasure trove offers interviews with director Bryan Forbes, producer Edgar J. Scherick, and stars Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss, Nanette Newman, and Peter Masterson. In these interviews, the interviewees go into great details about the making of 'The Stepford Wives'. More importantly, they aren't afraid to be frank about the animosity between Forbes and screenwriter William Goldman, or the various actors who were considered for various roles. Unlike today's corporate featurettes, this one gets to the heart of the matter and tells us what we really want to know about the film. We are also treated to the film's theatrical trailer, which has been letterboxed at 1.85:1, as well as two 30-second radio spots. Rounding out the special features is a detailed biography of director Bryan Forbes.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©