Woman Under the Influence

Woman Under the Influence

4.6 3
Director: John Cassavetes

Cast: Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Matthew Cassel

     
 

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Arguably John Cassavetes' best directorial effort, highlighted by a brilliant and brave performance by Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under The Influence hasn't had a very distinguished history on DVD -- it was released on a no-frills pan-and-scan disc in 1999 and has since been available only as part of a box set of five Cassavetes' films from the Criterion CollectionSee more details below

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Overview

Arguably John Cassavetes' best directorial effort, highlighted by a brilliant and brave performance by Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under The Influence hasn't had a very distinguished history on DVD -- it was released on a no-frills pan-and-scan disc in 1999 and has since been available only as part of a box set of five Cassavetes' films from the Criterion Collection. But Criterion have now made their excellent transfer available in a stand-alone edition, and it lends the film the presentation and exposure it deserves. A Woman Under The Influence has been given a widescreen transfer for this release, letterboxed at 1.85:1 on conventional televisions and enhanced for anamorphic play on 16x9 monitors. The film's simple, naturalistic visual style is preserved with unobtrusive clarity on this disc, which features a spotless transfer that adds nothing unnecessary to the picture. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and recreates the slightly messy realism of the original track beautifully. The dialogue is in English, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options included. The disc features an optional commentary track, in which Michael Farris (one of several cinematographers who worked on the picture) and Bo Harwood (who composed the score and recorded the production sound) discuss the practical and creative challenges of working with Cassavetes. Other bonus materials include a chat with stars Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk, excerpts from an audio-only interview with Cassavetes recorded in 1975, a large gallery of production stills, the film's original theatrical trailer, and a twenty-six page booklet including an essay by Kent Jones and a 1975 interview with Cassavetes from the magazine Filmmakers Newsletter. It's hard to imagine A Woman Under The Influence being given a better and more caring presentation on home video than this, and Criterion are to be congratulated for making an important film available again in optimal quality.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - John Guida
John Cassavetes' pioneering masterpiece A Woman Under the Influence set a bold standard for the early independent movement. The action centers on Mabel Longhetti (Gena Rowlands), a suburban housewife and mother prone to harrowing mental breakdowns that ravage her family life. The performances often veer unsettlingly into vérité. Rowlands's emotional range as Mabel -- flighty and soaring one moment and meek and whimpering the next -- is among the finest performances in film. Much the same could be said for Peter Falk's turn as her husband, the blue-collar guy's guy Nick. He's on a hellish roller-coaster ride from rage to tenderness and back as he struggles to keep his family together. Cassavetes casts our eyes upon this implosion and never lets us blink, making for a uniquely moving film experience.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Though "women's liberation" was never mentioned, John Cassavetes's timely dissection of a wife's coming undone wrenchingly revealed the insolvable contradictions of domesticity. With his signature "improvisational" yet scripted style, Cassavetes used hand-held long takes, close-ups, and zooms to mine the minute details of character and emotion evinced by his wife Gena Rowlands and his frequent collaborator Peter Falk as blue-collar couple Mabel and Nick, registering the complex effects of Mabel's claustrophobic existence on her "unusual" psyche. Concentrating on Mabel's protean moods, as well as on the reactions of her family and her husband, Cassavetes shies away from a pat diagnosis of madness, suggesting that the institution of marriage -- even to a husband who loves her -- is as responsible for Mabel's breakdown as her own inner turmoil. Several years in the making and funded by Falk and Cassavetes to insure creative autonomy, A Woman Under the Influence debuted to acclaim at the 1974 New York Film Festival, particularly for Rowlands's tour-de-force performance. Distributed by Cassavetes himself to avoid studio interference, it became a small-scale hit and earned Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Director; despite his reputation as a male-centered filmmaker, it remains Cassavetes' most successful film, both commercially and artistically.

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Product Details

Release Date:
11/04/2008
UPC:
0037429198926
Original Release:
1974
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
2:27:00
Sales rank:
665

Special Features

Restored high-definition digital transfer; Audio commentary featuring longtime John Cassavetes collaborators Michael Ferris (camera operator) and Bo Harwood (sound recordist-composer); Video conversation between actors Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk; Audio interview with Cassavetes by film historian Michel Ciment and Michael Wilson, conducted in 1975; Trailer; Stills gallery featuring rare behind-the-scenes production photos; Plus: a booklet featuring an essay by film critic Kent Jones and an interview with cassavetes from 1975

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gena Rowlands Mabel Longhetti
Peter Falk Nick Longhetti
Matthew Cassel Tony Longhetti
Matthew Laborteaux Angelo Longhetti
Christina Grisanti Maria Longhetti
Dominique Davalos Dominique Jenson
Frederick Draper George Mortensen
Joanne Jordan Muriel
Frank Richards Adolph
Syl Words James Turner
Ellen Davalos Nancy
Cliff Carnell Aldo
Nick Cassavetes Adolph
Charles Horvath Eddie the Indian
Vincent Barbi Gino
Katherine Cassavetes Mama Longhetti
Lady Rowlands Martha Mortensen
O.G. Dunn Garson Cross
Mario Gallo Harold Jensen
Eddie Shaw Dr. Zepp
Angelo Grisanti Vito Grimaldi
James Joyce Bowman
John Finnegan Clancy
Hugh Hurd Willie Johnson
Leon Wagner Billy Tidrow
John Hawker Joseph Morton
Elizabeth Deering Angela
Elsie Ames Principal
Jacki Peters Tina

Technical Credits
John Cassavetes Director,Screenwriter
David Armstrong Editor
Tom Cornwell Editor
Caleb Deschanel Cinematographer
Paul Donnelly Associate Producer
Bo Harwood Score Composer,Sound/Sound Designer
Phedon Papamichael Art Director
Sam Shaw Producer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- A Woman Under the Influence
1. An Unbreakable Date [:17]
2. Garson Cross [10:40]
3. Morning [6:21]
4. Spaghetti Breakfast [8:55]
5. Arias [8:33]
6. Anything [5:48]
7. The Wake-Up [4:14]
8. After School [6:52]
9. Mr. Jensen [4:49]
10. Waiting for Zepp [9:17]
11. House Call [4:50]
12. Five Points [4:22]
13. Accident [2:17]
14. Beach [6:49]
15. Sleep Like Rocks [5:05]
16. Six Months Later [4:50]
17. Mabel's Return [4:43]
18. Make It Like a Horse [10:37]
19. Good Times From Now On [6:00]
20. End of the Jokes [5:27]
21. On the Couch [6:24]
22. A Tough Night [5:32]
1. Color Bars [:21]
1. "As Green As Grass" [:17]
2. Learning on the Job [10:40]
3. "It Was Us" [6:21]
4. Family [8:55]
5. Gena Takes Off [8:33]
6. Editing With John [5:48]
7. John's Instincts [4:14]
8. "Singularly Different" [6:52]
9. "Just Feel It" [4:49]
10. Peter Falk [9:17]
11. Pins and Needles [4:50]
12. Technique Doesn't Interfere [4:22]
13. Genuine Time [2:17]
14. "Part of the Gang" [6:49]
15. No Limitations [5:05]
16. Peter's Hat/"You Can Do It" [4:50]
17. Nominations/Didn't Rehearse [4:43]
18. "You're on Your Own, Cookie" [10:37]
19. Bo and Mike [6:00]
20. Visiting With John [5:27]
21. Camera, Lighting, and Sound [6:24]
22. Undisputable Love [5:32]
1. Color Bars [:21]

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