A Woman Under The Influence (1974)

Part of the Madness on Film

Director: John Cassavetes
Certificate: Unknown
Format: 35mm
Language: English

"Cassavetes is the most important of the American independent filmmakers." - Rogert Ebert, American Film Critic


American director John Cassavetes is internationally acclaimed for his rare talent to depict human behaviour and relationships.

This is one of his most famous films, and it is about Mabel, a wife and mother, who behaves in an inappropriately uninhibited, erratic and psychotic way. The film questions what is socially acceptable, how mad this woman really is, and what family relationships are.

This is THE film on madness/difficult behaviour/confused people/obscure minds that you have to see - and it stars the ever perfect Gena Rowlands in a staggering performance.

What a Star and Shadow person says

A Woman Under The Influence asks questions about what is socially acceptable, about what it means to "behave", about what a "good mother" is, about what a loving relationship is, about what it means to love and be loved.

Let's be honest - it's not easy watching. But it's pretty powerful stuff. All of these questions tackled in just one film is pretty impressive. I think. And Gena Rowlands' performance is simply mind-blowing. What a woman.


The film will be followed by a discussion led by a member of the Institute of Psychoanalysis.


A Woman Under the Influence was nominated for 6 international awards and won 2 at the San Sebastián Film Festival.

"A Woman Under the Influence is one of the most devastating films ever made and arguably the masterpiece of John Cassavetes' lauded career." - Film 4 review

"An exceptional film … a study in the complexities of love, in the subtleties of mental disorder and in the way society demands rigid conformity" - Urban Cinefile

JOHN CASSAVETES (New York 1929 - 1989)

Pioneer of American independent film and cinema verité

JOHN CASSAVETES has been credited with being the first truly independent US filmmaker, breaking free from Hollywood studio control by self-financing and distributing his films. He was dedicated to character examination, rather than narrative, exploring the human condition and the ‘small feelings’ he felt American society suppressed.

He is most known for 3 FILMS: beat inspired, Charles Mingus sound-tracked, improvised Shadows (1959); non-escapist, dramatic alcohol-driven-character study Faces (1968) and poetically intense Woman Under the Influence (1974).

A Star and Shadow person said: "I first encountered John Cassavetes on a 14” colour TV, late at night, when my mother let me stay up to watch Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby. I later discovered that he made films himself and that they were AMAZING!"


1 - John Cassavetes was nominated for 3 Oscars: Best Director for Woman Under the Influence; Best Screenplay for Faces; Best Supporting Actor for The Dirty Dozen.

2 - He was married to Gena Rowlands (the woman under the influence).

3 - He was good friends with Peter Faulk and even directed an episode of Columbo.

4 - In 2003, his face was printed on an US stamp as part of a series that celebrated American filmmaking.

5 - He directed 12 films and 9 TV show episodes.

6 - He acted in around 120 films and TV show episodes.

7 - He said: "This picture, this picture—I don't give a fuck what anybody says.   If you don't have time to see it, don't.   If you don't like it, don't. If it doesn't give you an answer, fuck you. I didn't make it for you anyway." (Sight and Sound)


This film is being shown as part of a season on MADNESS ON FILM.

The other films are:

Thu 19 Feb, Repulsion (1965) - Mastrepiece of the psychological thriller from the French-Polish director R. Polanski

Thu 26 Feb, Madness Open Film Night - for films made by your gandad, your neighbourand you

Sun 1 March, Naked (1993) - Multi-awarded film from one of the best British directors M.Leigh

Other films in the Madness on Film:


Film: Repulsion (1965)

19 Feb 2009, 7:30 p.m.

Seen as a masterpiece of the psychological thriller, this is an early film from a great cinema master: Roman Polanski.


Film: Eyes Wide Open Night Special - Madness On Film Season

26 Feb 2009, 7:30 p.m.

Open film night: Make a film on madness under 10 minutes and come and show it at the cinema. Or just come and watch what these unknown filmmakers have produced…


Film: Naked (1993)

1 Mar 2009, 7:30 p.m.

Excellent and surprising film from one of the best UK directors: Mike Leigh. Film followed by a discussion with members of the Newcastle Philosophy Society.