Frank and Eleanor Perry’s adaptation of Sue Kaufman’s novel, Diary of a Mad Housewife was released to critical in 1970 and fifty years later it still resonates. Starring in her first film, Carrie Snodgrass won a Golden Globe for Best Actress–Comedy or Musical and was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her work. At the time, the Women’s Liberation Movement was underway. Today the film has echoes of the recent #MeToo movement.
Tina Balser (Snodgrass) appears to have everything going for her–a wealthy attorney husband, Jonathan (Richard Benjamin), two young daughters, a poodle and a fabulous apartment in Manhattan. Looks can be deceiving. The apartment feels like a prison. Richard is a first-class piece of shit. Psychologically abusive, he belittles his wife constantly. He is incredibly demanding and expects sex because he’s “entitled” to it. The children are assholes. The poodle shits everywhere. Tina says little, taking it all with a blank look on her face, sipping vodka, smoking and popping pills to cope.
Fed up, Tina seeks fulfillment elsewhere. She meets a “famous novelist,” George Prager (Frank Langella), and begins an affair. Unfortunately, George is also an asshole. An insufferable cad, he belittles Tina constantly. Everyone around her thinks she’s crazy. Tina is the only sane one. Sadly, she doesn’t kick both these misogynist men to the curb.
While all three leads are excellent, Richard Benjamin will make you want to punch him within seconds of his appearance on screen. The same is true for the young, handsome Frank Langella. I found it difficult to watch–I found myself grumbling at Tina to get out of this situation! Carrie Snodgrass displays a sad warmth that is essential to the film’s success. She’s in every scene and carries the film with confidence and skill.
Kino’s 1080p transfer is exceptionally grainy, giving it a real 16mm appearance. The grain gives the proceedings a realistic look. There are some light surface scratches, but nothing that affects the overall viewing experience. It’s a strong replication of the theatrical experience.
Kino uses a DTS-HD Master dual-mono track. The film is dialogue heavy, and light on effects. Dialogue is clean, clear, and concise throughout.
English subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- NEW! Audio Commentary by Screenwriter Larry Karaszewski with Film Historians Howard S. Berger and Steve Mitchell
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:53)
Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970)
Movie title: Diary of a Mad Housewife
Duration: 95 mins
Director(s): Frank Perry
Actor(s): Carrie Snodgress, Richard Benjamin , Frank Langella, Lorraine Cullen , Frannie Michel, Lee Addoms
Genre: Drama, Comedy