Jo and Ro: Ira's Angels

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Katherine Ross as Joanna Eberhart (l) and Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse(r)

The other night, my better half and I hunkered down in the living room to watch the original version of Ira Levin's classic, The Stepford Wives. While we had both seen this film before, we both felt compelled to comment on the obvious (sort of an anti feminist/feminist view of suburbia) and the not so obvious elements of the movie. (Paul Prentiss's Bobbie was probably a lesbian, and what was up with that hot pants / suspender get up she was wearing!?!?).

Later on, we both started to realize the similarities between The Stepford Wives and Levin's other classic, Rosemary's Baby: Women in supposedly happy marriages, sold out by their husbands .

As the movie continued, it became quite clear, that The Stepford Wives is actually just a re-telling of Rosemary's Baby, but with a different plot... for instance:

Stepford Wives: A young couple moves into a desirable suburban community.
Rosemary's Baby: A young couple moves into a desirable apartment house.

SW: Some of the neighbors seem odd.
RB: Some of the neighbors seem odd.

SW: Husband starts spending a lot of time with odd ball neighbors and joins The Men's Association.
RB: Husband starts spending a lot of time with odd ball neighbors and joins a Satanic Cult.

SW: Husband becomes distant from wife.
RB: Husband becomes distant from wife.

SW: Wife starts to become suspicious of other wives in the community, thinks they might be drugged, or that something is in the water.

Wife starts to become suspicious of some of the neighbors, fears they might want her unborn child for rituals.

SW: Wife begins to act crazy, making her look like she might be having a breakdown.
RB: Ditto.

SW: Turns out that wife's suspicions are correct - but she only knows part of the story!
RB: Ditto.
How's that old saying go? Just Because You're Paranoid Doesn't Mean They're Not Out to Get You!

Both Joanna Eberhart and Rosemary Woodhouse were victims of a conspiracy that they were smart enough to sort of figure out, but not smart enough to escape from.

Hmmm, so what was Ira Levin trying to tell us?

Clearly our sympathies are with these heroines, and yet I can't help but think that the similar tales are preaching some sort of message of hopelessness. That a loved one will sell you out for an acting career or to have a sex doll that keeps a neat house. Is that too deep? Or am I reading too much into this?

One thing's for sure, Joanna and Bobbie should have hightailed it out of Stepford , moved to California, and opened up a Women's Book Store ... maybe Rosemary Woodhouse could have joined them, she'd handle the occult section of the store.


Anonymous said...

There is another Ira Levin novel, This Perfect Day, which deals with Paranoia on a large scale. Your Utopian Police State is drugging you and a secret cabal of people are living it up using young bodies to keep their heads alive.

Pax Romano said...


Now I have to go find that book!

Anonymous said...

Get it here. http://www.amazon.com/This-Perfect-Day-Ira-Levin/dp/0394448588

Anonymous said...

It's a good book - I've been a Levin fan for a long time. You also gotta get Boys from Brazil(don't ya just love Nazis and Hitler clones) if you haven't already. Book is much better than the movie but the movie is pretty darn cool too. He also did A Kiss Before Dying which I haven't yet gotten to read but it is supposed to be pure Noir - two movies out of that novel.