My thoughts seem a bit scrambled this morning. I have a lot on my mind. A lot to think about. I like to escape my own brain at night before I go to sleep, so I will trade in a book for old episodes of Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart. Sometimes I like the subtlety of older films and television. I like the innuendoes. I like picking up on the hints. I feel like I'm “in” on some private joke when I understand what they are not saying. They seem to give me the credit I deserve for being so damn smart!
I watched The Stepford Wives on my computer last night. I mean, the good version from 1975, not that campy piece of nonsense that came out in 2004. I think I was nine years old when the film was released, so probably 12 by the time I saw it. How did we see movies back then … before the VCR? How long did it take for a box office hit to find its way to the television?
I was in 4th grade when my dad came home one day and told us about this crazy new invention “they” had. It would seem you could record something on one channel while you actually watched another channel! Then, you could watch what you recorded later. This conversation came about when Helter Skelter was set to air as a week long television event in 1976, aka: the week Rebecca spent evenings in her bedroom with the door closed playing with The Sunshine Family and Kojak-The Board Game (with her many invisible friends).
So, I watched The Stepford Wives last night. I enjoyed the subtle science fiction of the film and the lack of information was actually a bit refreshing. That would never fly nowadays. We need all the answers in today's films! We can't leave anything to our own imagination, not when there are filmmakers out there willing to do all the dirty work for us.
What I do not understand is how an entire town full of unattractive, boring men were able to “catch” such beautiful women. I do, however, understand why they would want to change them. It happens all the time. Men want the beautiful woman but do not want to deal with her beautiful mind. So, he tries to change her into the perfect house keeper, lover, and minimalist in the art of conversation. It's boring as hell, but I can certainly see how that would be easier for them.
But, the film. We were talking about the film. I appreciated that it allowed me to do my own math. Joanna's new friend, Bobby, was far too bubbly, animated and delightful to last long in Stepford. We knew what would happen to her from the moment she bounced across the screen and we were sad for that fact for the duration of their friendship. She had spunk, and unlike Lou Grant, I love spunk!
Joanna's husband's band of boring men friends had former careers far more interesting than their characters deserved … artists, animators, linguists, etc with companies like Disney and Playboy listed on their resumes. These bores had the experience and know-how to make the perfect automatons!
It's actually very sad.
The film explores a theme I've heard my whole life: Men want beautiful women who never age, or think, or contradict. They want to feel like Tarzan. They want to be The Best.
And, embarrassingly, while I was watching, I thought – a couple of times – it would really be so much easier if I could be reprogrammed that way. (Until I saw the ending, of course!)
I am being very simple in this “review”. Of course I caught all the themes tucked neatly between an abundance of product placement throughout the film. From the man carrying the naked mannequin to Joanna's flesh-colored, body-hugging hostess dress. Men want to play with beautiful dolls. (And Katharine Ross was very beautiful!)
(I was happy to see Mary Stuart Masterson, too, as Joanna's adorable daughter.) Women were burning bras and growing their hair when this film was released and I absolutely get the social commentary.
I also, quite simply, enjoyed the film.