The Stepford Wives: Silver Anniversary Edition

The Stepford Wives: Silver Anniversary Edition (1975)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss
Extras: Featurette, Theatrical Trailer, Radio Spots, Director Biography

Anchor Bay Entertainment is releasing a special ’Silver Anniversary Edition’ of the 1975 cult classic ’The Stepford Wives’ to replace their earlier DVD, which was released in late 1997. This re-release DVD features a newly made anamorphic widescreen transfer, which has been letterboxed at 1.85:1. For the most part, the image is sharp and clear, but some shots appear a bit soft and hazy, and at times, the colors, which would presumably be bold, are washed out. At times, defects from the source print are noticeable on the picture. However, these problems occur intermittently throughout the film, meaning that the majority of this transfer looks pretty good, and it certainly beats the previous DVD release. The audio on this DVD release is a Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack. While we do get clear and audible dialogue from this track, the sound level varies wildly throughout the film. The sound effects are loud and abrasive, while the dialogue has been recorded at a much lower level, resulting in constant volume control adjustments.

’The Stepford Wives’ special edition features a wonderful 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.

Of course, the best thing about this DVD is the movie itself. Though the clothes in ’The Stepford Wives’ are ridiculously outdated, the film itself has lost little of its punch. Joanna Eberhart (Katherine Ross) is convinced to move from New York City to the small town of Stepford, by her husband Walter (Peter Masterson, father of Mary Stuart Masterson, who also appears in the film). Once there, Walter joins the mysterious Men’s Association and Joanna discovers that the women of Stepford only want to talk about cleaning their houses and pleasing their husbands. Soon, Joanna learns the something very sinister is going on in Stepford and that no one, especially the women, are who they appear to be. Taken from the novel by Ira Levin, ’The Stepford Wives’ is the epitome of suburban paranoia films and a great attack on chauvinism as well. Although Bryan Forbes’ direction is a bit loose and the movie is slow at times, we can’t help but feel for Joanna and the ending will always be a classic. Accept no substitutes, ’The Stepford Wives’ is one of the best films of its kind.