Los Angeles housewife and mother Mabel loves her construction worker husband Nick and desperately wants to please him, but the strange mannerisms and increasingly odd behavior she displays while in the company of others has him concerned. Convinced she has become a threat to herself and others, he reluctantly commits her to an institution, where she undergoes treatment for six months.
Left alone with his three children, Nick proves to be neither wiser nor better than his wife in the way he relates to and interacts with them or accepts the role society expects him to play.
After six months Mabel returns home but she is not prepared to do so emotionally or mentally, and neither is her husband prepared correctly for her return. At first Nick invites a large group of people to the house for a party to celebrate his wife’s return, but realizing at the last minute that this is foolish, he sends most of them home. Mabel then returns with mostly only close family, including her parents, Nick’s parents, and their three children to greet her but even this is overwhelming and the evening disintegrates into yet another emotionally and psychologically devastating event.
Nick kicks the family out of the house, leaving husband and wife alone. After yet another psychotic episode where Mabel cuts herself, Nick decides to put the children to bed. The youngsters profess their love for their mother as she tucks them in. Nick and Mabel themselves ready their bed for the night as the film ends.
A Woman Under the Influence is a 1974 American drama film written and directed by John Cassavetes. It focuses on a woman whose unusual behavior leads her husband to commit her for psychiatric treatment and the effect this has on their family. It received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Director. In 1990, A Woman Under the Influence was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”, one of the first fifty films to be so honored.
A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
Directed by: John Cassavetes
Starring: Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Fred Draper, Lady Rowlands, Katherine Cassavetes, Matthew Labyorteaux, Christina Grisanti
Screenplay by: John Cassavetes
Cinematography by: Mitch Breit, Al Ruban
Film Editing by: David Armstrong, Sheila Viseltear
Art Direction by: Phedon Papamichael
Music by: Bo Harwood
Distributed by: Cine-Source
Release Date: November 18, 1974