EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|INSIDE DAISY CLOVER (director: Robert Mulligan; screenwriter: from a Gavin Lambert novel/Gavin Lambert; cinematographer: Charles Lang; editor: Aaron Stell; music: Andre Previn/lyrics, Dory Previn; cast: Natalie Wood (Daisy Clover), Christopher Plummer (Raymond Swan), Robert Redford (Wade Lewis), Roddy McDowall (Walter Baines), Ruth Gordon (The Dealer), Katharine Bard (Melora Swan), Betty Harford (Gloria Clover Goslett), John Hale (Harry Goslett), Harold Gould (Policeman); Runtime: 129; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Alan J. Pakula; Warner Home Video; 1965)|
showbiz tale despite
being short on execution."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Talented filmmaker Robert Mulligan ("Fear Strikes Out"/"To
Mockingbird"/"The Nickel Ride") helms this oddball showbiz drama,
that's based on a novel by Gavin Lambert; he also did the
In 1936, in Angel Beach, California, Daisy Clover (Natalie
Wood, was 26 at the time) is a tough-talking,
graffiti-writing, chain-smoking, 15-year-old street urchin living with
her batty mother, known as The Dealer (Ruth Gordon) because she always
plays solitaire. Daisy hates her older sis Gloria (Betty Harford), who
escaped this dump to marry a wealthy real estate man and dreams also of
escaping by becoming a Hollywood singing star. Daisy sends a demo
record to Hollywood producer Raymond
Swan (Christopher Plummer) and the manipulative wheeler-dealer and his deceptively tricky wife Melora
(Katharine Bard) are impressed,
and aim to present Daisy to be their next star as the innocent
"America's Little Valentine." First the studio head ships mom off to a sanitarium to
get her out of the way,
as Gloria is made guardian of Daisy and works with Swan to control
Daisy for the studio. The studio publicity department tells the world
Daisy's mom died recently and her dad, who skipped out on the family
seven years ago, is said in the publicity memos to the media to have
died when Daisy was nine.
After enormous success with
her first pic, Daisy begins a romance with fellow studio matinee idol
Wade Lewis (Robert Redford). He's witty and self-absorbed, and
marries her but disappears on their Arizona honeymoon before the
marriage can be consummated biblically. Soon Daisy learns from Melora
that hubby is a closted homosexual, and perhaps married the teenager to
live up to his public persona as a ladies man (perhaps a swipe at Errol
Flynn). From hereon it's all downhill for the rags to riches Daisy, who
has a nervous breakdown after seduced by Swan (whom she calls Swine),
always feels alone in the Hollywood community of actors and no longer
regards being a star as something worth pursuing. At 17 Daisy is a
suicidal recluse (recovering from a breakdown) and with her old fervor
vows to fight the studio system, as she watches her beach house go up
It plays out as a stylish,
cynical, somewhat artificial satire of the studio system in the 1930s;
since the characters were made cartoon-like into caricatures, it lost
most of its bite and had trouble finding an audience upon its release.
Also the songs provided by Andre and Dory Previn were campy misfires. Future director
choreographed the musical
It never rises to the interest level of A Star is Born (1937/1954), despite that film's clichés, but it was an entertaining showbiz tale despite being short on execution and ambivalent of whether to play things straight or shoot for laughs.
REVIEWED ON 7/18/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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