John Cassavetes William S. Pechter - Essay

William S. Pechter

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

It seems I waited too long to write my obligatory piece on "The Vanishing Heroine in American Movies," and events have now passed me by….

Mabel Longhetti, in John Cassavetes's A Woman under the Influence, is neither strong-willed nor independent, but she's assertive beyond ignoring and to the point of stridency. What she wants, or believes she wants, is just to be otherwise—not to break out of the housewifely mold, but to fit in—yet she can't. "Tell me what you want me to be. I can be any way you want me," she implores her lumpish, blue-collar husband, Nick, who only replies rather gallantly that he wants her to be just who she is. In some time less enlightened than our own, Mabel's...

(The entire section is 832 words.)