So, after many years, when the opportunity arose to finally get a look at Inside Daisy Clover in color, digitally-restored and widescreen,...I couldn't pass it up. I should have left things as they were.
|Natalie Wood as Daisy Clover|
|Robert Redford as Wade Lewis|
|Christopher Plummer as Raymond Swan|
|Ruth Gordon as Mrs. Clover|
I know it’s partly a matter of aesthetics…30s standards of beauty (pencil thin eyebrows, narrow silhouettes, severe hairdos) can be unflattering to celebrities who still need to look alluring to their contemporary fans, but in Inside Daisy Clover, a movie I assume wants to be taken seriously, it merely looks lazy, cheap, and uncommitted. The anachronistic rendering of the era prevented me from being fully drawn into the story, and gives this drama the unintended look of light comedy. Compare Inside Daisy Clover’s superficial, overlit sheen to the 30s as depicted just four years later in Sydney Pollack's They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?. Movie fans who mourn the loss of Old Hollywood need a film like Inside Daisy Clover to remind them of what used to pass for gritty realism in movies before foreign films and Bonnie and Clyde came along and shook things up
The Circus is a Wacky World / Give a Little More
As much as I like her in Splendor in the Grass, I truly find Natalie Wood (who campaigned aggressively for this role) to be terribly miscast in Inside Daisy Clover. I would have much preferred to see Patty Duke or Sally Field in the part. That's Duke pictured here as Neely O'Hara, just minutes before getting her big song cut from Helen Lawson's show. For the uninitiated: the only hit that comes out of a Helen Lawson show is Helen Lawson.
|Natalie Wood and Robert Redford doing what they do best in Inside Daisy Clover...looking pretty.|
Wood and Redford reteamed in 1966 in This Property is Condemned
I hate to say it but 26-year-old Natalie Wood plays Daisy Clover as Peck’s Bad Boy with bosoms. She doesn't inhabit the character so much as reduce the rather enigmatically-written teen down to a series of broadly-drawn attitudes. There’s that awful pixie/waif haircut wig (and if it isn't a wig, Ms. Wood should have sued); the freckles; the studied, ungainly gait; and let’s not forget the artfully applied smudges of dirt to the requisite nose and chin to convey pugnacious spunk. In lieu of a characterization we’re given a too-mature actress in 60s false eyelashes and eyeliner, trying too hard to convey spirited adolescence by means of cartoonishly-rendered explosions of piss and vinegar feistiness.
An actress I've always felt could deliver with a strong director, Natalie Wood during the film's first ten minutes displays some of the most amateurish acting I've ever seen outside of a John Waters or Andy Warhol film. She's downright embarrassing, and the film takes a long time to regain its footing. She gets better once she gets to drop the butch act, but not by much. I'm not sure if it's one of the worst performances of her career, but it's pretty darn close.
My favorite performance in the film is given by Christopher Plummer as the ironfisted producer, Raymond Swan. Plummer plays him in an amusingly reptilian manner - holding himself very still, lizard-like eyes darting about - that make his scenes the most lively in the movie. The same can't be said for gorgeous superstar-to-be Robert Redford, whose method of conveying ladykiller charm is to precede each line of dialog with a drop of his chin and a purposeful stare upwards into the eyes of whomever he's talking to...like a superannuated member of some boy band.
|Daisy gets Schooled|
|"Listen world, you're gonna love me!"|
Intergalactic megalomaniac Daisy Clover foists herself on an unsuspecting planet
THE AUTOGRAPH FILES: