Joanna Eberhart (Nicole Kidman) is a successful reality television executive producer, whose career suddenly ends after an attempted shootout by a disillusioned reality show participant. After being fired Joanna had a complete mental breakdown and she has even forgotten her wedding anniversary. With her husband, Walter (Matthew Broderick), and their two children, she moves from Manhattan to Stepford, a quiet Fairfield County, Connecticut, suburb.
Joanna becomes friends with Bobbie Markowitz (Bette Midler), a writer and recovering alcoholic, and Roger Bannister (Roger Bart), a flamboyant gay man who has moved to town with his long-time partner, Jerry (David Marshall Grant). Joanna, Bobbie, and Roger witness an incident in which Sarah Sunderson (Faith Hill), violently dances and then collapses.
Joanna argues with Walter about the incident with Sarah. He tells her that her children barely know her, their marriage is falling apart, and she is so domineering that people literally want to kill her. Walter tries to walk out of their marriage, but Joanna appeases him by trying to fit in with the other Stepford wives.
Joanna changes her look and tries to become a housewife. Joanna, Bobbie, and Roger go to Sarah’s home to check up on her. Sarah has left the door open and they hear her upstairs, screaming in ecstasy while having sex with her husband. As they scramble to sneak out, they find a remote control labeled SARAH. They do not notice that pressing a button causes Sarah’s breasts to enlarge and makes her walk backwards robotically. They run away to Bobbie’s messy, disorderly home. Roger confides to them that he and his husband are having marital issues and went to Stepford to get better like Bobbie (court order), Joanna (as a last resort) and their husbands.
The Stepford women appear extremely vapid and shallow; in the Stepford book club, their “story” is a catalogue of Christmas, Chanukah collectibles, and decoration tips. In the Men’s Association, Walter tells the other husbands that Joanna is planning to change. They show Walter that Ted’s wife is a robot.
Joanna and Bobbie sneak into the men’s association to spy on the husbands. They discover a hall filled with family portraits and are caught by Roger. Roger tells them that there is nothing wrong and the women leave. The next day, Joanna and Bobbie discover Roger’s favorite flamboyant clothes, playbills, and a photo of Orlando Bloom and a shirt with Viggo Mortensen‘s face in the garbage bin.
Jerry tells them to meet him in the town hall and they see Roger, apparently running for State Senate, with a bland, conventional look and conformist personality. Joanna wants to leave and Walter agrees with her, saying that they will go the next day. At night, a robo-dog gives her a remote with her name. Joanne goes into Walter’s study and discovers that all the Stepford wives were once working women in high power positions and that a champion terrier vanished and is believed to be the robo-dog.
The next day, Joanna visits Bobbie and she notices that her house is spotless. Bobbie is now blonde, dressed in a Sunday dress, and blends in with the other Stepford wives. Bobbie says that she is a whole new person and the most important thing is her cookbook. While telling Joanna that she can help her change, Bobbie puts her hand over the stove’s burner and does not even notice.
Joanna wants to leave and calls the camp for her kids, but she finds out that they were taken by Walter. She goes back to the Men’s Association and finds that in her family picture, she now looks like a Stepford wife. Walter has gathered with the other husbands and confesses that after marrying Joanna, he has felt undermined and all the husbands feel the same. Mike (Christopher Walken) shows how they insert nanochips into their wives’ brains and turn them into Stepford wives. The men corner Joanna and Walter and force them toward the transformation room, but before Joanna enters, she makes a final appeal by asking whether the new wives really mean it when they tell their husbands that they love them.
The next scene shows all of the Stepford wives, including Joanna, now blonde and dressed in Sunday dresses, at the grocery store.
With Joanna and Walter as the guests of honor, Stepford hosts a formal ball. During the festivities, Joanna distracts Mike and entices him into the garden, while Walter slips away. Walter returns to the transformation room, where he destroys the software that makes the women obedient. Walter returns to the ball, where the baffled husbands are cornered by their vengeful wives. Walter reveals that Joanna never received the microchip implant because her argument during the struggle had won him over. Out of his love for and loyalty to the human being he married, he joined her plan to infiltrate Stepford, with her pretending to be a cyborg. Mike threatens Walter, but before Mike can attack, Joanna hits Mike with a candlestick, decapitating him and revealing that he is a robot, and not even partially biological.
Claire (Glenn Close) explains that she created Stepford because she, too, was a bitter, career-minded woman; in her case, a tired brain surgeon. When she discovered that Mike was having an affair with her research assistant, she murdered them in a jealous rage. When Joanna wonders aloud why Claire did not simply make the men into cyborgs, she replies that she planned to turn the whole community into cyborgs. Claire then electrocutes herself by kissing Mike’s severed robotic head.
Six months later, Larry King is interviewing Joanna, Bobbie, and Roger, with Walter also in attendance. They have all met with success; Joanna has made a documentary, Bobbie has written a book of poetry, and Roger broke up with Jerry and won his State Senate seat as an Independent. As King asks about the fate of the other husbands of Stepford, Roger and Bobbie explain that they are still in Stepford, under house arrest, and are being retrained to become better people. The closing scene of the film reveals that the irate wives have taken over Stepford and are forcing their husbands to atone for their crimes by making them do housework and shop for them.
Nicole Kidman has won an Oscar, as well as three Golden Globe Awards. She is known as one of Australia’s best imports, and was actually born in Hawaii to Australian parents, who later relocated to their Sydney, Australia. Kidman is very well known for her roles in films such as Batman Forever, Eyes Wide Shut, Moulin Rouge, The Leading Man, Practical Magic, The Others, Panic Room, The Hours, The Interpreter, Bewitched, The Invasion, Margot at the Wedding, andAustralia.
Matthew Broderick plays Joanna’s husband, Walter. Born and raised in NYC, Broderick initially took up acting at New York’s upper-crust Walden School after his athletic pursuits were put aside because of a knee injury. The actor can been seen in movies such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Glory, The Cable Guy, Inspector Gadget, Strangers with Candy, and The Producers.
Glenn Close (Stepford’s Claire Wellington) has been nominated for five Academy Awards, ten Emmy Awards and nine Golden Globe Awards, in addition to winning both an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award for her performance on Damages. Glenn Close’s many film credits include Jagged Edge, Reversal of Fortune, Hamlet, The Paper, 101 Dalmatians, 102 Dalmatians, Air Force One,The Safety of Objects, Le Divorce, Heights, Nine Lives and many others, including blockbuster Fatal Attraction.
A two-time Oscar Nominee and a Grammy Award Winner, Bette Midler (Bobbie Markowitz) is a successful, comedian, and author. She has sold in excess of 15 million albums worldwide. She has also starred in numerous films such as Beaches, Stella, Hocus Pocus, Gypsy, Get Shorty, The First Wives Club, What Women Want, and The Women.
The majority of the film was shot in Darien and New Canaan, both in Connecticut, but On Location Tours features the CNN Studios in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, which were used in The Stepford Wivesas the workplace of main character Joanna Eberhart in the beginning of the film. Take one of these unique, guided New York City bus tours and you can see this and my other great locations from your favorite movies.
THE STEPFORD WIVES (Theatrical Trailer/1975)
The Stepford Wives is a 1972 satirical thriller novel by Ira Levin. The story concerns Joanna Eberhart, a photographer and young mother who suspects the submissive housewives in her new idyllic Connecticut neighborhood may be robots created by their husbands.
The book has had two feature film adaptations, both using the same title as the novel: the 1975 version, and the 2004 remake. Edgar J. Scherick produced the 1975 version, as well as all three of the made-for-television sequels. Scherick was posthumously credited as producer on the 2004 remake.
In a March 27, 2007, letter to The New York Times, Levin said that he based the town of Stepford on Wilton, Connecticut, where he lived in the 1960s. Wilton is a “step” from Stamford, a major city lying 15 miles (24 km) away.
CREDITS: TM & © Paramount (1975) Cast: Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss, Nanette Newman, Tina Louise Director: Bryan Forbes Producers: Gustave M. Berne, Roger M. Rothstein, Edgar J. Scherick Screenwriters: Ira Levin, William Goldman