A Woman Under the Influence (1974) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Mabel, a wife and mother, is loved by her husband Nick but her mental illness proves to be a problem in the marriage.

  • Peter Falk is a blue collar man trying to deal with his wife's mental instability. He fights to keep a semblance of normality in the face of her bizarre behavior, but when her actions affect their children, he has her committed.

  • The Longhettis are a working class family, Nick who heads a city works crew, and Mabel who stays at home looking after their three adolescent children, Angelo, Tony and Maria. Many people who look at the family from the outside believe Mabel is crazy, her behavior which Mabel largely attributes to her exuberance in trying to be who she thinks Nick wants her to be to put their family in a good light in whatever social situation. Nick too knows the perception others have of Mabel, he who tries to do whatever he needs to to protect her. An incident involving Mabel may cross that line for Nick of what he believes he can handle on his own, versus needing the assistance of medical professionals, all in protecting the children and Mabel from herself, but equally what he believes is the good Longhetti name. Nick's collective actions in dealing with Mabel before, during and after this specific incident demonstrate how emotionally capable Nick is in his own right.

  • An abusive, narcissistic and controlling husband tries to gaslight his wife into feeling like she's going crazy, threatening her with commitment and with the loss of her children. She tries to be both a perfect wife to his every whim and a wonderful caring mother but his violence and then public blaming of her sends her to the hospital.


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