Transcript: A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
Transcript of 70mm’s A Woman Under the Influence (1974) Episode.
SLIM Hey, it’s your old pal Slim. And this is 70mm, a podcast for film lovers. Every Monday I’m joined by famous artist, Danny Haas.
DANNY [Danny laugh/wheezes for 5 seconds]
SLIM And spiritual advisor, Protolexus.
PROTO A movie hasn’t hit me this hard, I think, since I’ve watched Moonlight.
SLIM And together as friends forever, we discuss recently watched movies. Later in this episode, for Leading Ladies Month, we’ll be focusing on A Woman Under the Influence, starring Gena Rowlands, chosen by Danny. Are the rumors true? Is this one of the greatest acting performances of all time? We’ll find out… together.
[70mm theme music ramps up, plays alone, fades out]
SLIM There’s a lot, been a lot of talk in Discord about what my pick might be. You know?
DANNY We know.
SLIM What’s Slim, what’s Slim gonna pick next week? Is it gonna be a happy movie?
DANNY Everybody knows.
PROTO We’re all thinking it.
SLIM You hear about this? You seen this talk in Discord, Proto?
PROTO Yeah, I did. People, people, they need a change. [Danny laughs]
SLIM An emotional change! Well, I got news for you. I’m not picking a movie next week. We have a special guest.
DANNY Ohhh baby.
SLIM Next week. [Proto gasps] And I think they left a voicemail later in the show that we’re going to get to where they announce their pick. And I’m not gonna say who it is. But it’s Leading Ladies Month.
DANNY You guess.
SLIM And if you think for a second that we’re going to have another white man on this show. [Danny laughs] In Leading Ladies Month, you have another thing coming. [Slim laughs] I was gonna say we have a lot to get to. But we’re recording this early on May the Star Wars be with you day. May 4th, a Tuesday, season 9 of Apex Legends release date day.
DANNY It’s a big day.
SLIM I think we know which is the more important remember a part of that day. I don’t think we need to get into it.
SLIM Danny, you sold out of a big time print at like 3 AM or something didn’t you?
DANNY Oh gosh. Mhm. Yeah.
DANNY Ahsoka Tano. Yeah, big Star Wars Day release, felt good. I didn’t like that it was released at midnight Pacific, but hey! I’m just the artist. [Danny laughs]
SLIM Midnight Pacific. That’s when people that buy prints, they know midnight Pacific is the time to do it. [Slim & Danny laugh]
DANNY But it was done and people bought it and are happy and I’m glad that they’re happy to have my art.
SLIM Proto, were you able to snag print from Danny? [Danny laughs]
PROTO Uhhh, not yet. Not yet. Are there any available?
DANNY No. VHSvillage.com. [Danny laughs]
SLIM Check eBay for people that are probably trying to flip that. Like it’s some kind of Lenny Dykstra rookie card.
PROTO Like it’s a sneaker. [Danny & Slim laugh] You can’t wear those on your feet.
SLIM So I was gonna say, what movies did you guys watch this week? But Danny, I think you’re out of the other two hosts, you and Proto, you only watched maybe one movie this week. Right? What did you watch?
DANNY Um, I watched Episode One. Star Wars. It’s not even arguably the best, it is the best. Everyone knows it’s the best.
SLIM Excuse me.
DANNY So that’s what I watched. I love that movie dearly.
SLIM What’s your favorite part of Star Wars One? Best scene?
DANNY When Obi-Wan yells know ‘no’ after Qui-Gon gets stabbed in the chest.
PROTO It’s kind of a downer moment.
SLIM We talked about a quick turnaround time for this episode. I watched 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 movies —
SLIM Since Thursday.
DANNY Hoooly moly.
SLIM If I can be brutally frank with both of you.
DANNY I need you to be frank.
SLIM Put in some work.
PROTO Geez. Let’s run through it.
SLIM Listen, I got my Pfizer, my second Pfizer shot, knocked me on my rear end so I had to relax and just let the magic of, the medicine of cinema takeover and heal me.
DANNY I respect that.
SLIM I unfortunately, I watched the new Mortal Kombat movie.
DANNY I’m sorry you did that.
SLIM I went in with an open mind.
DANNY No you didn’t.
SLIM And an open heart. [Danny laughs] And I watched it and I did not like it. Danny,you loved it though. You gave it four, five stars?
DANNY I gave it four stars. But also I don’t have a history with it. So I don’t, I don’t really remember the first movie, but I never played the game. I just wanted fun, Matt.
DANNY I wanted fun. I mean, I went to my buddy’s house to play it on his console because my parents wouldn’t buy it. But it wasn’t a game for me, I didn’t care. I was more of a Street Fighter guy.
SLIM So did you, what did you think of Jean-Claude’s movie?
DANNY I don’t remember it. Didn’t care.
SLIM Are weeee?
DANNY I know, that sounds amazing actually. [Danny laughs]
SLIM That would be legit, doing that movie. Proto, did you play Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter?
PROTO Um, I played a little bit of both. I never had either of them. I probably played more Street Fighter though. I feel like I was just more readily available. I wasn’t much of a like a fighter game person.
SLIM But you’re never about violence.
DANNY No, he’s more of a Myst, kind of console player or PC.
SLIM Star Wars Chess.
PROTO Love Myst. How ‘bout Indiana Jones and the Search for Atlantis, now we’re talking.
DANNY Oh my gosh. Holy moly.
SLIM No, I don’t know what that is.
PROTO Oh baby.
SLIM Is that like Myst?
PROTO Yeah, pretty much. But you’re Indiana and your pointing and you’re clicking things and you’re taking the rubber duck and you’re putting it into the toilet roll. And and then you’re saving the world. [Danny & Slim laugh]
SLIM Did that include like audio of the characters or is it just all text story line?
PROTO Oh no, at this point it was audio. Yeah, it was amazing. Voice actors. Nazis.
SLIM The Nazis, you know, they’re still around back then.
SLIM I also watched The Expendables on Amazon Prime. Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham. I realized that I kind of stalled on my Sylvester Stallone journey recently when I watched all those Rambo movies. Man Alive, what a movie. What a picture. [Slim & Danny & Proto laugh] Al Pacino saying that. Sylvester Stallone’s face in this movie, I can’t figure it out. I know he was while filming, it’s kind of publicly available that he was just jacked up on HGH. But if someone can maybe find a screen grab of Sylvester Stallone’s face from The Expendables film and paste that in chat. I’d appreciate it. But there’s something going on there. Something — [Slim laughs] similar era. He is jacked up, but his face is very strange. Also, Mickey Rourke is in it. And Mickey Rourke has had a history of, you know —
SLIM Of faces. [Slim & Danny laugh]
PROTO His face has seen some things.
SLIM His fingernails are also very strange. I don’t know if when you get plastic surgery, I’ve heard that you can’t get plastic surgery on your hands. It’s like the one thing that you can’t get done, so your hands always look old. I think that might be Expendables 2 or 3 Marcie.
DANNY Matt’s knowledge on plastic surgery right now.
SLIM That’s just what I’ve heard from my years of watching reality television. And his fingernails are like pink! It’s just very strange. But anyway, the movie just felt like a 90s action movie made in 2010, which is, you know, as legit as it can get.
DANNY Right up your alley. [Danny laughs]
SLIM I was all in. Then I watched the OG Mortal Kombat, which just got added to HBO Max. So that was a lot of fun. Let’s see, the one other thing I did want to bring up before we get into our movie, Woman Under the Influence, which is streaming in a few places, Criterion and HBO Max. Last week, we create a new $12 tier where those folks, they’re paid up for the year could choose a movie. And we would do that movie for the Patreon. So whatever they choose, you know, within reason, we have some ground rules. We would do that movie. So we got one pick in, we actually got three picks in, one of which I’ll reveal and I think the other two are listening right now. So let me know if you’re comfortable with me revealing. Kev picked My Dinner With Andre.
PROTO What a pick!
SLIM From Louis Malle. I went on a Malle journey not too long ago, if you remember correctly, Elevator to the Gallows. [Slim in a horrible French accent] Au revoir les enfants. [Danny & Slim laugh]
PROTO Say it again.
SLIM So I’m excited to watch that, that’s been on my watch list. So that’s going to be a Patreon exclusive episode. Real excited. The Fire Within was another one on I watched his. Great pick. Marcie made a huge pick.
DANNY Biiiig pick. Probably one of the biggest.
SLIM This is one of the biggest episodes we might ever do.
DANNY Only for patrons too. Crazy.
SLIM Disney Pictures Hercules, the animated motion picture.
PROTO My God.
SLIM Let it sink in.
PROTO Who does the voice in Hercules in that?
DANNY That’s a good question.
PROTO Is that Michael J. Fox?
DANNY Reeaaal good question.
SLIM Michael J. Fox! [Slim & Danny laugh] Two weeks in a row with Michael J. Fox related to humor from Proto.
DANNY On the brain.
PROTO It’s just a name that comes, you know? [Slim & Danny laugh]
SLIM Tate Donovan? Is that real? Marcie says. What’s Tate Donovan up to these days?
DANNY Hercules 4. [Slim laughs] Straight to DVD. Not even to D+. [Proto laughs]
SLIM Tate Donovan was in Rocketman!
DANNY Oh my gosh.
SLIM Weren’t you in love with that movie Danny?
DANNY Who wasn’t in love with Rocketman?
SLIM Tate Donovan was also in The OC, how come no one brought that up? Why am I the one bringing up The OC business?
PROTO Wait, the Elton John movie?
DANNY Oh I thought you were talking about —
PROTO You love that Danny?
DANNY Are thought you were talking about the other — was it not called Rocketman?
PROTO Oh you’re talking about Rocket Man, the guy who goes into space? And he farts in the spacesuit?
DANNY Yeah, he farts in the spacesuit. [Danny laughs]
SLIM I thought you liked the Elton John movie too.
DANNY Why wouldn’t I like the Elton John movie? It’s got Elton John music in it!
SLIM Mmm. Just bringing it up. I’m not trying to be combative.
DANNY Oh Proto didn’t like it.
SLIM Proto hated it.
DANNY Oh, well.
SLIM Forrest revealed his pick. This is another big pick. And I feel like there’s a theme popping up from the $12 tier folks. Little animated picture called Moana.
DANNY Ohhhh my gosh.
SLIM I’m excited.
DANNY Three big movies.
SLIM If you want to join our Patreon, you can do so at 70mmpod.com. There’s a link, 4 bucks a month. You can get access to these exclusive episodes and join our Discord. And it’s a lot of fun. Let’s get into the movie. A Woman Under the Influence, 1974. This is Danny’s pick for Leading Ladies Month. Proto, please.
PROTO Mabel is an American housewife. She has three kids, a two story house, a hard working husband, plenty of friends and a night all to herself. She has the American dream. But her husband Nick knows there is something wrong when she acts strangely in front of their friends. Afraid of what has become of her, Nick has Mabel committed to an institution for six months, in hopes that she will come home healed. While she is away, Nick handles Tony, Angelo and Maria the only way he knows how. And when Mabel comes home six months later, we find that nothing has really changed. And what has Mabel feeling sick has not gone away. A Woman Under the Influence.
SLIM Gena Rowlands nominated for her role in this movie, did not win. She lost to, who I think Ellen Burstyn, pretty shocking that she did not win after this performance, imo. Let’s see, what is the first thing that we should get into for this movie? Did we talk about how you came upon this pick Danny?
DANNY I don’t, I mean, I think I can kind of elaborate a little bit but I was, I was really looking for not just like a like this amazing movie that we’ve all seen with the with the lead, a woman lead, either director pr actress. I wanted to find a performance that I hadn’t seen that, you know, we could go, we could talk about and when I was searching other like lists for you know, performances by women, Gena’s performance came up so many times and multiple times as one of the best performances ever by a woman on screen, and so it almost felt like a no brainer when I was reading about it. So it wasn’t really, it didn’t feel like a safe pick that we’d all love. But it did feel like something that would be that should be talked about, for sure. And also, I had never seen, I went through, I know Cassavetes name but I don’t, I looked through everything and there wasn’t um, I hadn’t seen any Cassavetes movies before this at all. So I didn’t know his work. I didn’t know his style of work, even though he seems more revered as a director now than he was then. Even though he was nominated for this movie.
PROTO This is also his most popular movie on Letterboxd.
SLIM Yeah, have you seen anything Cassavetes related, Proto?
PROTO No. And I hadn’t even really heard of him until I got on Letterboxd. And this was a director that kept coming up. And I didn’t even you know, after finding out who he was I didn’t recognize the titles of any of his movies. And I’m looking at him right now, you know this, A Woman Under the Influence is his most popular, then its Opening Night. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Shadows, and then Faces so yeah, all these movies. I know nothing about them. So yeah, this was like really going in blind for me.
SLIM Yeah if you’re a Cassavetes head, I think the Cinenauts are doing The Killing of a Chinese Bookie by the time this episode comes out. I think that might be their next episode, so by all means, check that out. Yeah, the only other thing I knew him from was Rosemary’s Baby, which I think I referenced last week, he was the husband in that and he’s an accomplished actor. He’s in a ton of movies. Maybe the first thing on my list from A Woman Under the Influence, just to get out of the way now. Peter Falk’s hat in this movie. Danny laughs]
SLIM And just the the aura of Peter Falk. I can’t get past Peter Falk, the man or anything about him in this in this picture. [Danny laughs] Proto, what do you think of him?
PROTO Oh, boy. Where to start with this guy? I mean —
SLIM Disclaimer, I’ve never seen Columbo or anything. I think the, what is it? Princess Bride is probably the only Peter Falk anything I’ve ever seen in my life. Safe space.
PROTO I think the thing that stands out most to me in this movie is how my perception of the characters morphs throughout the movie, from the beginning to the end. From the beginning, Peter Falk’s character of Nick seems like a charismatic, you know, leader, who is the the life of the party. He’s the person people want to be around. He always has a plan. You know, he’s loud, but he gives direction, he keeps things moving. But yeah, as it goes on, it gets to the point where, I mean, he’s, by the end of it, he’s terrifying. And he’s grating. And at any moment, you don’t know what it’s gonna do. The word that kept coming back to me, at the end of this, is that he’s a ghoul. He is like a human ghoul by the end of this movie. [Proto & Slim laugh] And yeah, I was, I was creeped out by him by the end of it.
DANNY It’s funny, you mentioned his hat, too, because I watched an interview with Peter and Gena. And he talks about the first scene he filmed for this movie, and it’s the scene where they’re driving the truck in the rain down the street, and he’s caught up that night. And he said, they’re about to call action. And John yells, ‘wait’ and he runs up to the truck with the hat and slaps it on his head. And Peter said he had never seen the hat before until three seconds before his first scene. He didn’t even know what he looked like in it, didn’t know how to act in it. And he said he just was worrying how stupid he’d look in this hat. [Danny & Slim laugh]
PROTO The hat was frustrating.
DANNY It’s so weird.
SLIM Very strange.
PROTO I mean, he’s definitely looking through, trying to look through the brim of the hat and he’s not seeing anything!
SLIM I do want to point out that this is Leading Ladies Month and we’re just talking about, I mean, the first thing I thought of was Peter Falk’s hat. [Danny laughs[ So, mea culpa on that right off the bat. But Gena, her performance in this movie is the first thing I’ve ever seen her in, I think. And it’s one of the most like in enrapturing performances by any actor maybe that I’ve ever seen. Like, you know, her performance deserves to be at the top of you know any actor/actress, whatever you prefer, list. I was really blown away by her entire role in this. I thought it was mind blowing. Danny, what did you think?
DANNY Yeah, I mean, she’s, she’s staggering in this film to watch and completely mesmerizing. And what’s crazy about her is there are points where it doesn’t feel like acting. Like she’s doing such a job where I almost feel like I’m watching a manic person. Like her, like just little ticks, her eyes, her mouth, the stuff she was, the thumbs to the side, the making of them. Like, there were so many movements and gestures and the way she spoke and her eye contact. I mean, it just she, I was just, I couldn’t stop just loving this performance because it’s insanely good. Like this feels like it has to be top of the curriculum at any sort of film school when it comes to this performance. I was gonna say, I’m glad that we have a podcast where we aren’t film buffs, because I told Casey, I feel insanely under prepared or under whatever to have any sort of conversation about this movie, because it feels insanely bigger than what I can comprehend as far as film goes.
PROTO I didn’t really care for her performance, like the first half of the movie, or anyone’s performance or much of the movie at all. I thought it didn’t, it didn’t really work for me. [Slim laughs] And I want to say, I didn’t, I don’t really think it was the the actors though, in the roles, I think it was more, I just didn’t really I think it was the direction. Because there wasn’t enough information about what I felt like of what was going on. And maybe that’s just his style. You know, it feels very much like, yeah, here’s a you know, here’s like a slice of this life. And you know, it felt like he just, Cassavetes just let the camera roll. And he didn’t have — it kind of reminded me of watching All or Nothing. The movie we did, we did with Chuck, way back at the beginning of the show, where it felt like there wasn’t really a script and things were just kind of happening. So it felt like the movie didn’t really have any direction. And I wasn’t sure of what the expectation was for these characters. And, and it was like, alright, you know, what’s the deal with what’s going on, and I just didn’t have enough information to know, yeah, just like what was happening. And so I felt like more frustrated with it. But I don’t feel like it was the actor’s fault. But because of that, I didn’t really enjoy what I was watching on the screen.
SLIM I think overall, too, it’s hard to like, enjoy what you’re seeing, even if it wasn’t Cassavetes directing this, like you’re seeing a you know, blue collar family come to grips with potentially a bipolar disorder in the mother, and you know, of the family, that they have to send away for six months and then she comes back and you know, not maybe anything has changed. You have to like deal with that. I think it’s going to be an unpleasant watch to begin with. But I will say that I do agree with proto that the Cassavetes style, may not be for me. Like this feels like it would be, I can see this being like revolutionary in the 70s. Like Cassavetes doing this almost like stage show on screen where you’re letting the actors kind of just vibe. And maybe that pays off, maybe it doesn’t. And Gena’s performance, in my opinion, did pay off. But there’s like a lot of scenes that like didn’t really connect with me, which was the spaghetti dinner scene, I felt like there was a lot of interplay between the actors, that maybe non actors, that I would have just like cut out or maybe ask for like four or five more tapes of. But at the time, I can see that being like people are really into this. This is like what I want to see and film, this kind of unkempt, dirty, acting and real life on screen. What did you feel about this style of filmmaking, Danny?
DANNY Well, I will say that I found the length of this film to be too long. And I think that when I think back through some of the scenes and in between them, because there feels like there’s these specific tentpole scenes for this movie. There’s the spaghetti dinner. There’s the doctor coming over. There’s him taking the kids to the beach. These specific moments that are moving the story along but in between that there’s so much dead kind of space where the cameras filming them doing something. I don’t know. That’s not really progressing the story. But there was something about it that I liked where it made the, it made me more, it just made me feel a little more off putting watching the scenes. I don’t know, it stretched like this sort of tension for me that it really, it kind of like affected how I viewed the film. And I think it’s how like I watching her being manic is also like stressing me out. And also the length of the film is stressing me out so it’s kind of like this, like perfect storm.
SLIM Danny has to go away for six months after watching this movie. [Danny laughs]
DANNY Like it was just a lot, it was a lot. And honestly I don’t think I would change it. Now sitting through it all, I feel like it worked on some level for me. So maybe Cassavetes is for me when it comes to some other films. But I don’t know yet.
SLIM I do want to capture some of our Discord comments and I still am not sure how to correctly pronounce Anaïs’ name. So I’m just going to call A for short. “What I saw was not a mentally ill woman, I saw a woman who was deeply frustrated by what society expected of her. Inflamed by a husband who was drinking the same juice.” Yeah, at the onset, I couldn’t quite tell if she was an alcoholic, and like that was part of the problem. Or if it was drugs. Because it starts out with her kind of going out on a night on the town and she goes home with this total dweebo at that bar. Oh my god, I want to give that guy a wedgie. And very unpleasant scene where he woke up the next morning and was like, didn’t realize she was married.
PROTO Yeah, I thought, in some ways, I like the setup for this. But then I also find it frustrating because I feel like the title of the movie A Woman Under the Influence you like, immediately for me, I think, alright, she’s an alcoholic, right. And then there’s a scene early on, where she goes to the bar, and she drinks like that whole class of hard liquor, the Seagram Seven or whatever, in one shot, and this guy’s like, blown away. And it’s like, alright, so her family’s gone. And she’s taking this guy back to her house. She’s completely wasted. She’s an alcoholic. Alright, this is all like following the path. But it seems like a total curveball, because that’s not really what’s going on in the movie. It’s more about, you know, the her relationship with her husband. And as it goes on, like that’s revealed. But you don’t really find that out until the second half. So I, I think that was part of the struggle is that there was almost like this expectation from the beginning, that the movie is going in one direction. And then Cassavetes doesn’t really give you much direction. Like you mentioned the spaghetti dinner scene. And while part of me enjoyed that scene, there were so many moments in these scenes where it seems like they weren’t amounting to anything. Like I’m watching this 20 minute scene. But it’s not giving me really anything about, any more about these characters. And it just feels like it’s meandering and not really focused. And I think it was at that point where I came out of that scene and nothing seemed to really happen, that I was really frustrated with it. But by the end of the movie, I feel like everything comes full circle and it hits like a ton of bricks. And it really pays off. But it’s a long journey to get there.
SLIM You can even say that that guy at the bar, you know in the 70s maybe they wouldn’t have viewed it that way, but like 2020, that was like you know assault in her home. Really uncomfortable to watch. Art “I watched this and the Bookie movie and his style seems very stingy with typical wide shots to give you reactions. He loves to stay on one person keeping you blind to others in the scene.” Sean says “them sleeping and having meals in the same room made me super anxious.”
DANNY The house alone made me anxious.
SLIM I feel like I knew every inch of that house by the end of the movie. [Slim & Danny laugh]
DANNY The house made no sense either. I couldn’t figure it out.
PROTO Yeah why was — like the kitchen having a Private sign on it?
PROTO That like, that just like —
DANNY Yeah, that was the kitchen and there’s was, the bathroom to the right of it or something? The bathroom is that way as well.
SLIM To jump into probably my favorite scene of the movie, which does happen at the end and we can obviously still kind of roll around. But when they’re cleaning up after she returns home from her, being, you know, institutionalised and he like a moron has everyone come over the house for her return.
SLIM God I just wanted to clock him.
DANNY Smack the shit out of him.
SLIM [Slim in what is supposed to be a Peter Falk voice] Peter Falk! We’re gonna have everybody ova! Moron. When she asks him if he loves her.
[clip of A Woman Under the Influence plays]
MABEL Do you love me?
NICK I uh… I uh… Let’s go clean up that crap.
[clip of A Woman Under the Influence ends]
SLIM And his non reaction with some of the most realist shit I’ve ever seen in a movie. [Slim & Danny laugh] That is almost worth the entire journey to get to that scene of just human real emotion between two married people. I thought that was amazing. What did you guys think?
PROTO Yeah, that scene where she asks him that and his just inability to connect on an emotional level with her or really you find out, anyone. Like this dude is just, he’s tone deaf, completely, in just you know relating to people. The scene that did it for me though, talking about tough scenes, is when, they’re at the table, and she asks her dad to stand up for her.
DANNY Oh my gosh.
[clip of A Woman Under the Influence plays]
GEORGE Right. Simple talk.
MABEL Dad… will you stand up for me?
MABEL No, I don’t mean that. Sit down, Dad. Will you please stand up for me?
GEORGE Mabel, I don’t know what you want me to do. Honey, I don’t understand this game.
[clip of A Woman Under the Influence ends]
PROTO Oh my god! And he literally physically stands up. And she asks him like three times. And then it seems like after that, he gets it. And he says something, he says like, ‘oh, like, you know, this is my daughter!’ But then when when Peter Falk is telling everyone to leave, he just you know meekly bows his head and leaves and it’s like, oh my god, dude, your daughter your daughter is here begging for you, begging for help. And, and he doesn’t do anything.
DANNY And her mom whispers in his ear. Like, do you understand what she means or something? And he gets, you see in his eyes that he gets it. Finally. What’s cool is both mom’s, her mom was played by her actual mom in real life.
SLIM Oh really?
DANNY And then Nick’s mom is Cassavetes mom.
SLIM Hm! Casey in chat says “it’s so obvious that she needs tenderness, and literally no one gives it to her.” Yeah, I mean, every dude in this movie in that circle, like even the doctor, I wanted to slap him around too.
PROTO Oh, God. Is he even a real doctor? [Danny laughs]
SLIM Like he couldn’t step in towards the, like at that, like reunion party. Be like,
Hey, I don’t know if this is a real good idea for her right now.’ You know? [Slim laughs] Maybe having 70 people at the house, it might be a bad idea! Let’s slow down here. Or at any point at the where the family is hanging out for dinner with her, and that entire conversation. Nobody throws up the red flag, like this is, this is bad news, what’s happening here. We should bail. Everyone should bail right now.
DANNY And yet you see it on all their faces. That’s what’s wild. You know they know. But they do nothing.
PROTO Or the fact that Mable’s the only one who tries to like break the ice and make it normal and tell a joke.
PROTO [Proto in what is supposed to be a Peter Falk voice] Only normal conversation! [Danny & Slim laughs] No jokes about the weather! Normal!
SLIM I can see Proto’s hands doing motions when he does that impression on the camera. It’s hilarious.
DANNY What’s wild is you watch this film, it’s already, the title already makes you have your opinion set for Mabel going into it. And even though she has, she’s the manic one, she only portrays love and and she’s never at any point in danger of hurting someone else or herself. And yet she’s the one that’s institutionalized. But Nick on the other hand, is verbally and physically abusive. And yet he’s the one with the power to institutionalize her as if she’s the one with the problem, when in actuality it’s him. And it’s insane to watch because it just makes you so frustrated. Because this is the, that was the times, like she had no power.
PROTO Yeah, and I think that’s what’s what I find genius about this story as it develops is that the beginning I’m thinking okay, she’s an alcoholic, she has issues. But then slowly as like when she disappears and you see him with the kids, and you see him with the friends and you see him at the house party. Like each step forward, you just see how it’s like shifting the other way to like this guy is the problem. As you said Danny. And just like the thing he kept saying to her like, just be yourself. As if that’s not what she’s trying to do! You know, as if she isn’t trying to be herself. Like the last thing you want to do when you someone to be themselves is to tell them they’re not doing it and just to do it. It just, it doesn’t even make any sense! And it, yeah, it’s, to me it’s like horrific! The end of this movie is a horror movie. It’s really tough to watch.
SLIM Yeah, Sean, I did read this quote that Sean put in Discord from the Wiki “when Richard Dreyfus appeared on the Mike Douglas show with Peter Falk, he described the film as the most incredible, disturbing, scary, brilliant, dark, sad, depressing movie. And added I went crazy, I went home and vomited, which prompted curious audiences to seek out the film capable of making Dreyfus ill who is himself bipolar.” So he had a very strong connection to the movie. And I did read the Wiki about how like, I think Peter Falk put up half a million dollars to get this movie made. And this was like one of the first movies to ever be distributed without a sub distributor. Like nobody really wanted this movie. So he was just like, you know, giving it to theaters. And that’s what kind of got the ball rolling. So credit to Peter Falk for, you know, doing the legwork like that to believe in Cassavetes, at this point of his career. I just had a big problem connecting with the style, his directorial style. The long close ups of takes that, you know, I just, in my opinion, they just weren’t like, I would have reshot or use different takes, they just felt like they just went on and on. Without anyone yelling, cut, and they just kind of used it. The spaghetti dinner scene, I think gets called out a lot as you know, this really powerful, cinematic moment. But I was really not connected to it at all. It was just too loosey goosey. The random coworkers telling stories, I was just really uncomfortable. [Slim laughs] And maybe that is the intention. But it wasn’t an uncomfortable, meaning like, you know, this is great that it’s making me feel this way, this is what it should be doing. And that happened a bunch during the movie for my viewing and I know, you know, and maybe me and Proto, but I think we’re kind of the odd people out in terms of the Cassavetes camp. But that’s just how I thought about a lot of those scenes.
DANNY The spaghetti scene for me, I don’t know what it was about it. And why I connected with it. And I don’t know if I connected with it on a level of like this is amazing, but it really hangs with Gena’s performance and there’s just something about, finally I think you really see her like real manic side. Her twitches and stuff and it comes through really big when it’s just the two of them. When he tells the guys to go away and I don’t know. You really start to see their characters the two of them together alone for the first time and I think that’s why I connected the most with it.
SLIM Proto, what else is on your list for A Woman Under the Influence?
PROTO There’s so many just like insane scenes with Nick. I’m not sure what I’m referring to — but I have a note. What is this fight with the guy and his three kids? Oh yeah! When the friends come over. And then Nick just goes berserk on this guy forcing them to leave the house.
DANNY Oh after the party in the backyard?
PROTO Yeah the party in the backyard. Yeah, one of my notes is Nick is a massive idiot. Yeah, the whole beach scene, it seems like one of the most iconic scenes is maybe the scene in the truck, when they’re riding back and they’re sharing beers —
SLIM Oh yeah. Forgot about that scene.
PROTO With the kids. And there you’re just kind of like, what like, like what is going on? And just seeing how disconnected Nick is from his wife and his children. And it even had me thinking of just you know, what do you think like, what is his influence on these kids? Like what is it doing to their lives and to their personalities and to their mental well being? Especially the scene with them tucking into bed, you just see Mabel and she is just so loving and she has these like, you know these little in jokes with all her kids and these whole routines of just like showering them with affection and love. And Nick is watching this and then he tries to like imitate what he’s doing but but it’s like a bull in a china shop like he’s just like so clueless. And, again, I mean, it was, it in some ways the ending was, it was beautiful, just seeing her love her children. But then also just horrifying, knowing that this movie ends with no resolution, no saving grace. It really ends with her gonna wake up for another day of this life with nothing having changed. And either she’s gonna, you know, struggle through life in this manic state forever or she you know, end her life or you know, I don’t know something else. And just knowing that this isn’t uncommon at all, like this is many people’s lives, you know, living this way and have lived this way. It just, it’s so real. That it makes it hard to stomach and hard to just expose yourself to see in a movie. Because it is so raw in how its depicted.
sLIM I will say the back of the truck scene was probably my other, my second favorite scene of him sharing the beers with his kids. I feel like that was a pretty realistic depiction of, you know, 70s fathers. You know? I thought that scene was pretty good. Danny, what else is on your list? Or do you have any follow up to Proto’s thoughts?
DANNY No, no, no. Proto, I feel like he’s spot on. I love that take. For me, I’ll talk about my favorite scene. When the doctor visits for the first time when Nick wants to have her committed. That’s to me, that’s the best scene in the movie. Gena’s performance kind of floored me to the point of almost like frustration in myself that I had never even remotely known this person outside of her being in The Notebook. And it’s crazy to watch the mother son relationship with Nick and his mom, and how much of a control she has over him. And it’s maddening because you see Gena, and all she’s doing is, it’s a cry for help. And no one’s listening to her and no one is actually showing her — sorry, getting a little misty. Not showing her any compassion. And it’s so hard to watch and Gena’s performance, just, I can’t, I can’t speak about it enough how good it is in that scene. I love the cinematography of that scene, it almost felt like something of like an almost a one take stage show. You could feel this energy where it felt like she was not improvising. But she was just in a zone. And I just, I’m impressed. I really was impressed by it.
SLIM Yeah, in the Wiki they talked about in the planning stages for this movie, you know how originally kind of would have led itself to a play. But there was no way that she could do this performance eight times a week, which I didn’t even consider because the whole time was watching, ‘This should have been a play! This is a play!’ [Proto laughs] And then I was like, oh yeah, that makes more sense. [Slim laughs]
DANNY Yeah, she would not have survived.
SLIM No way.
DANNY It’s a lot. It’s just a heavy scene. And you just see so many players in the room. Her, the doctor, the mother, Nick. And no one knows what to do. But everyone feels like they have the answer. And all she wants is to be heard and a little bit of compassion from anybody in that room. And she doesn’t get it.
SLIM How about the size of the vial of that doctor pulled out of his satchel? [Danny laughs] How much of that stuff does he need on a daily basis?
DANNY I mean, he had to sedate her.
SLIM He could sedate a, you know, friggin’ horse with that thing. My final thoughts and ratings, I’ll go first. Obviously her performance is like other worldly, in my opinion. And I do want to seek out other films that she’s been in. There are a lot of Cassavetes related work. I think she stars in a lot of his movies and works. With that said the style of filmmaking I think just maybe didn’t work for me. I would have preferred someone other than Cassavetes doing it. I don’t know if that’s just this movie or his style. Just really had a strong disconnect for me for whatever reason. So I am at three stars for A Woman Under the Influence. Proto, what do you think?
PROTO Yeah, I kind of feel the same way of just not really connecting with the style of filmmaking from Cassavetes. I was not digging this the first hour. I didn’t really care for much of what I was seeing. We didn’t really talk about the music, I thought that the soundtrack was great though.
DANNY Yeah, I was gonna bring that up.
PROTO But I do feel like the ending of this movie, it’s horrific, but it is an all timer. And it kind of pays off in the end, where you know, I didn’t like the first half, like a two star but like the ending of this is like a five star all time, like moment scene. And I haven’t felt, a movie hasn’t hit me this hard since I’ve watched Moonlight.
SLIM Excuse me?
PROTO You know, it’s like, it’s like a movie that is important. And it’s like powerful, but I don’t want to see again, whereas like Moonlight, I felt like the whole thing was fantastic. That’s like, you know, I I gave that movie five stars, I think. But this, it just didn’t totally work for me. So my three stars as well. [Song from end credits of A Woman Under the Influence by Bo Harwood & Cassavetes plays]
DANNY Yeah, I was gonna say the score in this felt perfect. There was just enough of it, that it felt like this kind of love melody that was trying to fight what you were seeing on screen. I really dug the score. And for me, I connected quite well to this movie. And I think a lot of it has to do with, I don’t I don’t know, maybe Cassavetes’ style is for me. I’m interested to dig into more of his work, the performances. I mean, Peter Falk played the perfect guy that I wanted to just wring his neck. I mean, by the end of this, I was so pissed at him. Like so mad. And I don’t know, maybe having some sort of dealt with manic sort of in our family at some point. Had some sort of weird effect on me, how I viewed this film. But Gena is incredible. I can see myself I can probably see myself watching this again, for sure. And I’m going to continue some more Cassavetes stuff. So for me, this is four and a half stars.
SLIM Wowowowow. Former producer the show, now disgraced, Ian. “Ari Aster said he drew a lot of inspiration from this for Hereditary. Thoughts?” I can see that. I mean there’s a dinner scene in Hereditary that will destroy you inside and out. Proto, have you seen Hereditary?
PROTO Yeah, I don’t remember the dinner scene though. Sorry.
DANNY Sorry, Aster. [Slim laughs]
SLIM With apologies to Ari Aster, at A24. Oh my God. Soph just posted The Iron Giant print, just arrived. Mamma mia, looks beautiful. Thank you for choosing this movie. This is one of those movies that I probably never would have watched, add it to the list. But I’m thankful that we watched it.
PROTO Thank you, Danny.
SLIM You know, experience something brand new. But we got to get to some voicemails. If you want to leave us a letter or a VM, you can do so at 70mmpod.com. There are links on there. Let’s see, we have one that came in right before we recorded last week or right after. But let’s get to that before we get to our host, next week’s guest host.
VOICEMAIL Hi, I just want to say that I just started listening to your podcast. And I love it. Particularly the Rosemary’s Baby podcast episode time.
SLIM Perfect timing.
DANNY Oh my, wow.
VOICEMAIL I think you might want to do a quick rewatch because the scene where Rosemary and Guy are eating the chocolate mousse. And you know, she doesn’t want to eat it because it tastes chalky. And, you know, he goes to her to to eat it. And she eats a little bit of it but then she throws the rest out. Anyway, there’s a scene in the hallway where guests are getting ready for bed and she tripped and Guy catches her, if you listened very closely, he says Mia. [Slim laughs]
DANNY Oh no! [Danny laughs]
VOICEMAIL So I thought was kind of interesting. I had to rewatch it and said “what did he just call her?” He said Mia. So anyway, take care everybody! Keep up the good work. Take care and bye!
DANNY Aw, thank you.
SLIM Didn’t even leave a name. Thanks for the VM.
PROTO That’s a deep cut.
DANNY That is a deep cut.
SLIM What are the chances that that is right the episode? This is another one of those moments.
DANNY I got the chills.
SLIM I’m chilled up right now hearing that VM. Mystery VM.
PROTO We’ll just call her Rosemary. [Slim & Danny laugh]
DANNY Thank Rosemary!
SLIM Rosemary, don’t be a stranger. So I said next week, we would not be having a dude guest host. We’re having a woman on Leading Ladies Month, next episode. And we are having Soph be our guest host next week, you might have heard us mention Soph’s name from the Hope This Finds Me Well podcast. She is also responsible for the transcripts for the 70mm podcast. We’re very thankful for that. And she left a voicemail with her pick that we have not heard. Yet!
DANNY Here we go.
SLIM So let’s get into that right now.
VOICEMAIL Hello 70mm, it’s Sophie. I promise I’m not calling in this time to rag on Proto, we talked, he’s supposedly going to finish The Farewell. So it’s water under the bridge, Proto, love ya. The real reason I’m calling in tonight is because you guys have asked me to be a guest on the pod next week, which is so cool! And I’m super, super stoked about it. And you’re even letting me pick the movie, which is incredibly intimidating for some reason. I think you know, Leading Ladies Month, there’s just so many ways you can go about it. So I’ve been honestly kind of stumped on what to pick for a while. But just like many other things in my life, when I don’t know what to do, I just go with the most chaotic option. With that being said, I picked 1977’s House, directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi.
DANNY Oh! I wanted to see this!
VOICEMAIL It’s Japanese movie that’s kind of turned into like this cult classic in the horror genre. I watched it somewhat recently. And it was a wild ride it, honestly I still don’t quite believe what I watched. So I’m happy that we’re gonna be able to watch it together and kind of unpack the absolute chaos that it is. And to be quite honest, I’m, I just there’s part of me that wants to do this movie just to hear Proto’s synopsis of this movie. I think it’ll be worth it just for that. But yeah, it’s basically an entirely woman led movie, so I thought it would fit pretty well with this month and we can just have fun with it. So yeah, can’t wait to talk about it. And see you guys next week!
DANNY Mmm House!
SLIM Streaming now on Criterion and HBO Max. 1977. I won’t reveal my rating.
DANNY I know, I’ve seen your rating for this,
SLIM But I will say that I referred to this as ‘cinematic LSD for the soul’ in my review. [Danny laughs]
DANNY I’ve wanted to watch this. I’ve seen it pop up so many times.
PROTO I was planning on watching this in October.
PROTO October in May!
DANNY There we go.
SLIM I’m looking at some of the ratings here from our village. Wes, four and a half stars. Ken, four stars. Lex, four. My God. Ben, three and a half stars. Ben, please.
DANNY Read the room. [Slim laughs]
SLIM Ian in chat, who here is taking LSD for the live taping next week? [Slim laughs] Cut the stream. Oh, what a week next week. What an ep this week. We made it! Great pick Danny. Glad we started, I’m assuming we’ll see more from Cassavetes over the next few days as well as Gena on their journey.
DANNY Mmm. You still feel solid about your pick now? How you feeling? [Slim laughs]
SLIM I couldn’t be any more empowered with my pick.
DANNY Ohhhh baby.
SLIM It has not shifted.
SLIM It has not shifted.
SLIM Its unwavering.
SLIM I can’t wait to reveal my pick. Oh yeah. And the ladies bracket. We didn’t talk about it last week but Proto, well Proto’s going out of town, tonight, so.
DANNY I’ll be doing it. Yeah. [Danny laughs]
SLIM So Danny will be finalizing the the Leading Ladies March Madness draft because this is a month with five weeks. So we will be having a Villager voted episode — I’m sorry Villager vote for the lady, the leading lady and then we will choose the movie that they’re a part of for the final week of the month. And so stay tuned to the Discord. Stay tuned to Patreon posts for that bizzz. Proto, any closing thoughts for this week?
PROTO Closing thoughts. Man, this movie is, it’s really heavy. But you know, there’s a lot of people out there, once you get close to people and you know them, a lot of people are going through things. Maybe not as hard as Mabel, but could be something. And I think that’s always important to remember that, you know, for most people in our lives, we don’t know what they’re going through. But by giving someone just a little love, a little tenderness, a little care, it can go a long way. So just remember that, you know? You don’t know where someone is. That guy cuts you off in the grocery line, who knows where he is. [Slim laughs]
SLIM Wise words as ever, Proto. Next week, Soph will be our guest and there could be a few big announcements coming next week, along with her appearance. Stay tyned! We’ll see everybody next week.
[70mm theme music ramps up, plays alone, fades out]
SLIM 70mm is a VHS Village production, featuring original artwork provided by Danny Haas. Spiritual guidance and VGER, the robot who loves movies, provided by Protolexus. Producer emeritus dale_A. Prints and other merch are available on 70mmpod.com. This episode was mixed, edited and produced by me, Slim. And you can support our Patreon for access to our Discord to talk movies with other Villagers, get early access to episodes, discounts on merch and a physical membership card mailed to you. If you would like to support our friends at Letterboxd and upgrade to Pro or Patron status, you can do so with a 20% off discount using the links on 70mmpod.com. Goodbye!