Jonathan Balser (Richard Benjamin) is an up and coming star attorney and law partner. He’s also an egotistical, pompous and pretentious social climber who is obsessed with his wine cellar and usually seen at the right parties in Manhattan.
His harassed but patient wife Tina (Carrie Snodgress) is a grounded woman who does not share her husband’s desire to be in the constant company of phonies and celebrities.
She realises their marriage is in bad shape, but she depends on his income while she keeps house and takes care of the kids, being the “perfect wife” and hostess
Tormented not just by her husband – she’s lazy, she’s inefficient, she doesn’t support him enough – but by two repugnant daughters (Lorraine Cullen and Frannie Michel) Tina becomes easy prey for successful writer George Prager (Frank Langella in his first feature film) who sees that she is starving for affection and sex, which he happily provides.
Tina eventually realises he is only using her for his own sexual satisfaction – the same way he uses many other women in his circle.
When Jonathan confesses that he has been having an affair, Tina – in no position to argue – remains cynically subdued and tolerant.
Jonathan assumes that her calm is the greatest proof of her worth as a wife and apologises, promising a “whole new start”. And she buys the soap because George was too blunt and too real for her to accept.
It’s a perfect ending, as disgusting as George would have predicted and just as funny.
Carrie Snodgress won a Golden Globe award and an Oscar nomination for her role, deservedly so since Diary of a Mad Housewife is virtually a one-woman show. Tragically, she died of heart failure on 1 April 2004 while waiting for a liver transplant in hospital in Los Angeles. She was just 58.
Women’s Lib girl