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The Stepford Wives


1974       Katherine Ross

It wasn’t so long ago that the phrase, horror movie, conjured up traditional images ... monsters, vampires, King Kong grappling with Godzilla. But that’s changed now, thanks to such imaginative writers as Ira Levin. Levin’s most famous screen shocker was “Rosemary’s Baby,” in which an apartment house on Manhattan’s west side took on a menacing life of its own. Now, in THE STEPFORD WIVES, he uses a sleepy suburban village, packed with adoring and beautiful housewives, as a springboard for horror. Columbia Pictures’ THE STEPFORD WIVES, starring Katherine Ross, Paula Prentiss and Patrick O’Neal, It’s Levin’s conviction that the most frightening things around us are those which seem the most innocent. “Vampire movies are fun, but we know it’s make-believe, so we’re protected,” he explains. “How many of us ever expect to be trapped in a crumbling castle in Transylvania?” “But if you can make a necktie or a vacuum cleaner an object of horror, and set your nightmare in an everyday situation, then you really get under your audience’s skin.” Those who saw

“Rosemary’s Baby” will appreciate Levin’s necktie reference. In that macabre masterpiece, it was precisely that bit of haberdashery which brought about one of the tale’s most terrifying moments. Oddly enough, Levin’s first success as a writer wasn’t rooted in mystery. After emerging from the Army Signal Corps in the early 1950’s, he crafted the stage version of Mac Hyman’s novel, “No Time For Sergeants,” which introduced a young country comic named Andy Griffith. “The decision to write ‘No Time For Sergeants’ was made during my first week in the Army, when I found myself bent over double, picking up little scraps of paper on a general’s front lawn,” he recalls. It was immediately after the play’s success that Levin decided to delve into the macabre and he’s been at it ever since. His book about a baby-faced psychotic killer, “A Kiss Before Dying,” was quickly gobbled up for the screen. Then came “Rosemary’s Baby” and now the story of the strange sickness afflicting the townspeople of Step-ford. THE STEPFORD WIVES began as a daydream, he recalls. “What would it be like, I wondered, to be married to the perfect wife. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be absolutely awful. Downright terrifying.” Out of such random thoughts are best-selling novels and movie shockers made. Bryan Forbes directed the film from a screenplay by William Goldman.

A peaceful suburban community, in which the women are slavishly devoted to their men, is the setting for Columbia Pictures’ bizarre new motion nicture. THE STEPFORD WIVES, Adapted from Ira Levin’s best-selling novel, by William Goldman, THE STEPFORD WIVES was produced by Edgar J. Scherick for Palomar Pictures International and directed by Bryan Forbes. Like Levin’s other chillers, including “Rosemary’s Baby,” the focus is on the horror in what appear to be everyday events. In this case, it is the strange malaise which afflicts a small town, turning once-vigorous women into automatons. Among the “afflicted” women of Stepford are Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss and Nanette Newman. Also starred are Peter Masterson and Patrick O’Neal as Dale Coba, suspected mastermind of the town’s diabolical affairs. Author Levin admits that his macabre concoction deals with wish fulfillment ... at its worst. “Almost every man, at some time, fantasizes a ‘perfect’ wife,” he pointed out. “But what a nightmare if he ever gets her.” Click here for more



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The Stepford Wives

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