EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS (director: Elia Kazan; screenwriter: William Inge; cinematographer: Boris Kaufman; editor: Gene Milford; music: David Amram; cast: Natalie Wood (Wilma Dean Loomis), Warren Beatty (Bud Stamper), Pat Hingle (Ace Stamper), Audrey Christie (Mrs. Loomis), Barbara Loden (Ginny Stamper), Zohra Lampert (Angelina), Fred Stewart (Del Loomis), Joanna Roos (Mrs. Stamper), Jan Norris (Juanita Howard), Charles Robinson (Johnny Masterson), Phyllis Diller (Texas Guinan), Sandy Dennis (Kay), Gary Lockwood (Allen 'Toots' Tuttle); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Elia Kazan; Warner Bros.; 1961)|
sudser is darker than those of its day, as it
shockingly deals with matters Hollywood had previously kept under
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Elia Kazan's ("On The Waterfront"/"A Streetcar Named
Desire"/"Baby Doll") steamy
'Coming of Age' film on First
Love is set in rural Kansas, in the late 1920s, and the adult
screenplay is by Kansas-born
playwright William Inge (won an Oscar). It was first written
novel and then as a play. This romantic sudser is darker than those of
its day, as it shockingly deals with matters Hollywood had previously
kept under wraps. The title comes from Wordsworth: "There's
nothing can bring back the
hour / Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower / We will
grieve not, but rather find / Strength in what remains behind." Though
impressive in bringing up some psychological trappings, the Freudian melodrama is awkwardly
presented and is delivered rote-like.
Bud Stamper (Warren Beatty,
his acting debut) and Wilma Deanie Loomis (Natalie Wood) are high school sweethearts in a small-town
in 1920's Kansas, who are
finding it increasingly difficult to resist their sexual urges. The
couple are in love, but frustrated and confused because they can't
consummate this love in a physical way because of their moral
upbringing. Their parents (Pat Hingle & Audrey Christie) are interfering and are
more a problem than a help. Wilma's overbearing puritanical mom is a man-hater, while Bud's arrogant self-made
millionaire dad tells his son
to first graduate from Yale before thinking of marriage to the
working-class hottie Wilma. Their advice only makes the lovers feel
more lost and in a tizzy. When mom tells Wilma "nice girls don't," she listens. Bud's life
lesson from dad is for him to fool around with loose women, and he
The frustrating relationship
ends for the star-crossed lovers and leads to disastrous results for
both. But it's much worse for the emotionally broken-down Wilma, who
goes mad and later drowns in a
reservoir (not far different
than her real-life death where she drowned falling off her yacht named
the "Splendour"). The roaring twenties
wasn't roaring for this repressed couple and also came tumbling down
for Bud's capitalist dad when the stock market crashed in '29.
film received mostly good reviews upon its release, as critics were
impressed with Wood's angst-driven performance.
Phyllis Diller, Sandy
Dennis and Gary Lockwood had small parts.
REVIEWED ON 6/19/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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