The Stepford Wives ★★★

With their sedate voices, slow walks and blank eyes, the Stepford Wives are maybe cinema's definitive depiction of Valium abuse.

This may even be intentional—the "Valium panic" of the mid-to-late-70s was an offshoot of the feminist movement. In "The Feminine Mystique" (which the Katharine Ross character has likely read), Betty Friedan argued that tranquilizers were over-prescribed by physicians who treated the legitimate complaints of unfulfilled housewives as generic "anxiety." (The curious reader is directed to David Herzberg's article "'The Pill You Love Can Turn on You': Feminism, Tranquilizers, and the Valium Panic of the 1970s," which is a lot of fun.)

Anyway this movie is hella schematic but a great way to teach second-wave feminism, and also for that matter White Flight (it's like a sequel to Ira Levin's earlier Rosemary's Baby, with the husband's betrayal deferred until after they've had kids and moved out of the city). And Paula Prentiss rocks it to the moon.