Wednesday, April 24, 2013


The weird thing about sexual repression is how it creates, then proceeds to foster and perpetuate, the atmosphere of shame and sin it purports to be on guard against. Case in point: so-called "family" entertainment.

Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! (1955) is the dirtiest movie I ever saw. Really. This corn-fed ode to spring, sparkin', and spoonin' is nothing but a wall-to-wall smut-fest obsessed with fornication. Or, fornicatin' as the characters themselves would probably drawl, were the film able to stop being so coy and wholesome for five minutes and just lay out on the table what is obviously its sole purpose, preoccupation, and focus. For nigh on 2 ½ hours (dialect helps to get into the spirit of things), horny farmhands in tight jeans and overheated farmer's daughters in calico dresses and bullet bras talk and think of little else but sex. Sure, it's all coded and cloaked in innuendo-soaked songs and double-entendre choreography, but Oklahoma! is like one long, whispered-behind-the-barn dirty joke. A rumps and udders horse opera. There's your dim-witted, semi-nymphomaniac who "cain't" say no; Kansas City bur-lee-cue dancers going just as "fer" as they can go; randy traveling salesmen; rape-inclined farmhands; and, lest we forget, that sexual assault disguised as a kiss: The Oklahoma Hello.
If a ten-year-old is capable of moral indignation, then indeed I was. By the time that surrey with the fringe on top rolled in at the end, my cheeks were hotter than Hades, and I could barely look my parents in the eye. 
"A raging torrent of emotion that even nature can't control!"
OK, that's actually the ad copy for the 1953 Marilyn Monroe film Niagara, but it so succinctly captures Splendor in the Grass' metaphorical use of rushing waterfalls barely contained by dams (not to mention the film's overheated, Freudian themes) I just had to use it.

I'll admit my tongue-in-cheek scandalized reaction to Oklahoma! might seem a tad incongruous coming from someone who saw all manner of R-rated movies during his adolescence. Still, I'm not kidding about how vulgar this musical seemed to me when I was young. The comparatively straightforward approach of movies like Barbarella and Midnight Cowboy didn't embarrass me so much as demystified sex for me. Their explicitness made it feel as though sex and nudity were no big deal. Oklahoma!, on the other hand, mirrored my repressed Catholic upbringing. By figuratively and literally dancing around the film's all-pervasive topic of sex, the film turns sex into a sinful no-no suitable only for giggling and snickering about in empty, euphemistic codes of indecency.
A firm memory I hold from my adolescent movie-going years is how filthy I considered the family films of my era (the '60s): David Niven's The Impossible Years, Doris Day's Where Were You When The Lights Went Out, Debbie Reynolds' How Sweet It Is – compared to the permissive, let-it-all-hang-out R-rated films that were coming into fashion.

The pernicious effect of repression and guilt - its power to distort and pervert natural sexuality - is the theme dramatized in Elia Kazan's sensitive film adaptation of William Inge's original screenplay, Splendor in the Grass.
Natalie Wood as Wilma Dean "Deanie" Loomis
Warren Beatty as Arthur "Bud" Stamper
Pat Hingle as Ace Stamper
Barbara Loden as Virginia "Ginny" Stamper
Audrey Christie as Mrs. Loomis

Splendor in the Grass is set in a small town in Kansas in 1928. Not, as immortalized by Rodgers & Hammerstein, a Kansas corny in August, but one overrun with oil derricks born of an oil boom. And all that pumping, pumping, pumping of the land serves as unsubtle metaphoric counterpoint to all the pent-up sexual energy of the town's young folk. Experiencing the first rushes of jazz-age permissiveness, the air is full of sex (in a nice touch, almost all the half-heard background conversations have to do with sex, sin, or something forbidden) and high-school sweethearts Deanie Loomis (Wood) and Bud Stamper (Beatty) find their barely-understood passions clashing with the repressive, Victorian-era values of their parents. As a result, archaic notions of propriety and decency intrude upon their natural urges, and the young lovers suffer painfully and unnecessarily under the strain of trying to do "what's right."

" it so terrible to have those feelings for a boy?"
"No nice girl does."
"Doesn't she?"
" nice girl."

William Inge is one of my favorite playwrights. His works, among them: Picnic, Come Back Little Sheba, and The Dark at the Top of The Stairs, find the poetry and tragedy in small lives – recalling for me the best of Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill. In Splendor in the Grass, Inge's gentle evocation of the subtle frustrations, conflicts, and inchoate desires festering below the surface of otherwise tranquil small-town life is engagingly realized by director Kazan (A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, East of Eden).
William Inge appears as the sad-eyed Rev. Whiteman, whose sermon on holding onto
 what's real in times of material prosperity falls mainly on deaf ears. Inge's original screenplay for Splendor in the Grass won an Oscar.

In this story about "innocent" passion, a young couple, excited by newly awakened feelings but confused by their intensity, are left without guidance by well-intentioned adults incapable of doing anything but projecting the failures and frustrations of their own lives onto the pair. The young feel an obligation to live up to the ideals of those who have sacrificed to give them a better life. Yet, in trying to orchestrate the happiness of their children through the stressing of false morals, shame, and repression, these parents succeed only in passing on a legacy of compromise and regret.
The Stampers
This awkward portrait sitting pretty much says all there is
to say about the functionality of the town's wealthiest family

Stage director and Actor's Studio co-founder Elia Kazan is heralded as an "actor's director" for the sensitive performances he's credited with eliciting from those under tutelage. It's not a title I'm likely to argue with in that I think Splendor in the Grass is a remarkably well-cast movie, with everyone involved giving colorful and fleshed-out performances devoid of some of the fussier affectations of Method Acting. Sure, Warren Beatty's pauses can drag on a little, and one strains to hear him speak on a couple of occasions, but by and large, the natural performances here all crackle with vitality and life. 
Future Mrs. Kazan Barbara Loden makes an indelible impression as Ginny Stamper, the flapper-out-of-water in the small, conservative Kansas town. Her screen work is minimal (she died of cancer at age 48), but in 1970 she wrote, directed, and starred in the noteworthy independent film Wanda. 

As deserving of praise as all the players are, I just have to single out a personal favorite, Natalie Wood. Tapping into a natural edginess and heartbreaking eagerness to please that had only been hinted at in previous roles, Wood gives what I consider to be the best performance of her career. As the lovesick, worshipful Deanie, she displays an emotional daring I always find so compelling in actors. She is tragically vulnerable throughout, and she and the absurdly beautiful Warren Beatty (making his film debut) make a stunningly beautiful screen couple and display a palpable chemistry. (Tip: watch her in scenes where she's not the focus. She's entirely in character and reacting to everything at each moment in a way that feels so wonderfully spontaneous. I can't say enough about her in this film. The Oscar nomination she garnered was so very well-deserved.)
Zohra Lampert as Angeline
I have always had a thing for this appealingly sensitive, low-key actress (and marvelous comedienne) who deserved a bigger career. She has a bit of a cult fan base built around the horror film Let's Scare Jessica to Death, but outside of her scene-stealing performance here, I mostly know her as the Goya Beans spokeslady.

Splendor in the Grass is a tragic love story in the grand tradition. True love, in the form of Deanie and Bud, finds no solace or sanctuary in small-town (small-minded) mores that uphold the curious notion that the pursuit of happiness is good, but the pursuit of ecstasy is sinful and wrong. Instead, love that should be simple and uncomplicated descends into confusion and madness, the star-crossed pair suffering at the hands of false morality and parental interference.  
Aside from Natalie Wood's stubbornly contemporary look throughout most of the film, Splendor in the Grass has one of its greatest assets in its detailed depiction of small-town life and attention to period. In addition, it's a great-looking film, from the atmospheric cinematography (Boris Kaufman) to the costumes, to the eye-catching art direction.
Personal favorite Sandy Dennis (l.) makes her film debut as Kay,
a somewhat fair-weather friend of Deanie's

I first saw Splendor in the Grass when I was a youngster back in the late sixties, and recall being struck by how much the film's chronicling of a uniquely American brand of sexual restlessness in the face of cultural change (rampant horniness crossed with faith-based guilt), echoed the cultural climate of what was going on in America at the time. In terms of young people confronting changing attitudes about morality, sex, family, religion, double-standards, and women's roles, the America of the late '60s was not dissimilar to the America of 1929. A reality even 1961 audiences must have felt when confronted by the relative sexual candor of Splendor in the Grass hot on the heels of the conservative Eisenhower years.
Comedienne Phyllis Diller makes her film debut as real-life nightclub owner, Texas Guinan
I can't say I really understood Splendor in the Grass when I first saw it. Thrown by the film's portentous manner and the pedigree of talent both behind and in front of the camera, I simply thought the film had gone over my head. I went away from it thinking I had just seen the most poetic film about blue balls ever made.
Life experience has revealed to me that Splendor in the Grass is about much more than sexual desire. Familial obligation, guilt, love, innocence, loss, and coming-of-age maturity all make William Inge's bittersweet look at young love a film I always enjoy revisiting, and one of my all-time favorite Natalie Wood movies.

Copyright © Ken Anderson     2009 -2013


  1. An excellent post, Ken! I disagree about "Oklahoma!" being coy and "wholesome" however. I think sex is handled in a very straightforward manner -- this isn't "Pillow Talk" or "The Tender Trap" -- in 1943 there was a war on and many people were getting married without much of courtship. Ado Annie says "Kissin's my favorite food" -- she's not being coy, she's celebrating her refusal to play coy games and pretend to be other than she is. I think the characters are quite direct in their desire for eachother. It's Rodgers & Hammerstein so yes, it's a bit sugar-coated, but I'd say, 2nd only to "Carousel" it's their least sugar-coated work.

    As far as "Splendor in the Grass" goes, I remember being very impressed the first time I saw it but less so the second time. It's all a little heavy-handed and overproduced and isn't the miscommunication between parents and their kids an eternal theme? I really enjoy hammy Audrey Christie in everything she's done (wasn't she in Mame with Lucille Ball?) and Natalie Wood is quite good -- for her. She's always a little amateurish and unsteady if you ask me, though sweet.

    I love David Amram's score best of all!

    1. Of course, I should add, I wasn't raised Catholic so the theme of repression and guilt about sex doesn't really resonate with me, though I can still appreciate "Peyton Place."

      Hey, "Top Hat" is about sex and so is "The Harvey Girls."

    2. Hi Peter
      Thanks for the compliment on the post and for sharing your well-considered dissenting views on Oklahoma!'s smut-factor. You make some very good points!

      Curiously,"Oklahoma!" was released in 1955, the year both "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause" kicked off the misunderstood teen genre that inspired "Splendor in the Grass" that came to take over the youth branch of Tennessee Williams' southern gothics.

      I'm glad you mentioned Audrey Christie's terrific turn as one of the Upsons in "Mame." She's quite hilarious in a movie in dire need of a few genuine. She played an equally snobbish (but not so funny) character in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."

      And dear Natalie wonderful in this but never able to get a break despite landing some amazing parts. I couldn't really adide her sex comedies, and I recall Pauline Kael ripped her a new one for "West Side Story" and Harvard lampoon awarded her a worst actress of the year award once (which she good-naturedly accepted in person).
      And yes, the score to "Splendor in the Grass" is terrific.

    3. I don't know who said it (perhaps a critic) but someone once made the observation that every dance number in a Astaire/ Rogers movie was a sex scene. I'm inclined to agree.
      And any movie with 40s-era Angela Lansbury in it was a movie about sex! She sort of radiated it back then.

  2. Thank you for giving it to Oklahoma! and focusing on its rancid wholesomeness. I've always loathed Rodgers & Hammerstein (Rodgers & Hart was so much better) and really think they did so much to take the spirit and fun out of the American musical. There's something about Hammerstein's pietistic writing that always grates on me; he's the theatrical version of Stanley Kramer. I also dislike the musical's simplistic Freudianism, which perhaps can be excused by its historical context (everyone was into Freud in the 1940s), but which just seem so much part of Hammerstein's humorless pomposity and attempt for his work to be taken for 'serious' art.

    It's been many years since I've seen Splendor in the Grass, but I remember seeing it in a high school class and the teacher raving about Zohra Lampert. She has such an unaffected acting style; and her deep voice is unusually appealing. I think it's that she comes across as so reassuring a personality--she's like the best friend you always wish for. I haven't seen Let's Scare Jessica to Death, but must definitely look out for it.

    1. Hi GOM
      It's fascinating to hear your take on Rogers & Hammerstein, for in all my years in dance and as a film fan, I rarely ever encounter anyone who shares a similar lack of fondness for R & H. My mini-rant is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, an attempt to capture the strength of emotion I experienced seeing the film as an adolescent. I still feel the same, just not so comically heated about it.

      Like the previous post on the other side of the H & R issue, you make some very well-observed points.

      The full movie "Let's Scare Jessica To Death" is available on YouTube:

      But I don't know that I would recommend the film.It's just such a pleasure to see Lampert in a sizable role,one finds oneself "tolerating" the somewhat weak thriller built around her. I like your description of her as being unaffected and a reassuring personality. I think that is perfect! I always thought the Zohra Lampert from "Splendor in the Grass" would have been outstanding as Sonny Corleone's daughter in The Godfather III.
      Thanks for sharing your insights, GOM!

  3. Ken, you have yet again turned the spotlight on another fine film. It was interesting to read about how you saw this film (from Hollywoods golden age?) during the "free love" age in the late 60's. I have never seen this one. I can tell by how you describe the film that it does not end well for the young protagonists -young love vs. parental guilt...

    It's good to remind us that Natalie Wood was a good actress. She doesn't always get the respect she deserves. She was so gorgeous when she was young and a big box office draw in the early 60's! Have you seen "Inside Daisy Clover"?

    How is "Splendor..." regarded in the United States? Is it considered a forgotten classic?


    1. Hello Wille
      Yes, it was somewhat eye-opening to see a film about sexual repression during America's so-called "sexual revolution" because of the parallels that could be made between the film's era and my own.
      Oklahoma! and its attitude towards sex represented to me the era of my parents. An attitude I understood, but couldn't identify with. This seemed very similar to what Deanie and Bud encounter in the film.

      It's my belief that because "rebel Without a Cause" and "East of Eden" have taken the crown as the seminal misunderstood teen films of Hollywood's Golden Age, I think that "Splendor in the Grass" is respectfully regarded, but something of a flawed minor classic. Few regard it as one of Inge's best (I do), and those who like it seem to do so from a place of nostalgic fondness for the love story and the place it holds in Natalie Wood's career (she was having a bit of trouble transitioning from child to teen to adult roles. "Splendor in the Grass" turned the tide for her as an adult actress).
      Like say, a Joan Crawford, Natalie Wood is largely regarded as a movie star and not much of an actress, but I think she is flawless in this. I am a HUGE fan of "Inside Daisy Clover", but alas, as a camp favorite. I have been wanting to write about that film for the longest time.
      If you get a chance to see "Splendor in the Grass" I urge you to. It's so marvelous to see good stories and intriguing performances(and no 3-D!)
      Thanks again, Wille!

  4. I now really want to see "Splendor..." after your review. It's been hard to find but I'll look for it. I wonder if it had been better remembered if it had starred James Dean or perhaps he would have been to old for it by then?

    Natalie Wood was a very appealing star. Her type of glamour seemed to quickly go out of style at the end of the 1960's. I have seen "Inside Daisy Clover" and I would very much like to read your opinion of it!

    1. Thank you.
      In my opinion, movie styles change often as frequently and unpredictably as fashion, and if "Splendor in the Grass" suffers at all in being remembered (or even in how it was received at the time), I think it suffers from having been a few years too late. By 1961 the sort of Freudian sex drama of "Splendor..." had been done to death by all those film adaptations of Tennessee Williams, Inge himself, and Eugene O'Neil. It feels fresher now with some distance, but in 1961, I think audiences might have felt they'd seen this all before.

      Brando and James Dean were such influential leading men, it took years before Hollywood stopped trying to find the "next one."

      I too think Natalie Wood is a very appealing actress (she makes me cry at the end of "West Side Story") even though I don't always like her performances. With good directors though, I think she can be very good.
      If you ever get around to seeing "Splendor in the Grass" I hope you let me know what you think of it.

  5. Of course, Natalie was going through her own real life romantic turmoil during this film, too. Her "fairy tale" (first) marriage to Robert Wagner was crumbling and lothario Warren Beatty was beginning to look rather appealing, waiting in the wings. It's likely that her own inner upset helped to give her performance extra depth and feeling. Remember when Melissa Gilbert (!) remade this for TV?? I didn't think so....

    1. Hi Poseidon
      I forgot the timeline of Wood's breakup with Wagner (had she only STAYED estranged) and this film. Many the good film performance of a marginal actor has been greatly assisted by some real-life hardship.
      And no, I didn't know this was remade by Melissa Gilbert!! What a horrible concept.Oh, dear. Perhaps it was at that time she and Loni Anderson were going around ruining...remaking past classics as TV movies.

  6. I actually saw this for the first time last year, at the cinema, no less.

    A couple of times I've seen Natalie Wood, she has drawn a bad case of the snickers from some of my fellow audience members, those insensitive types who laugh at anything that they're not supposed to laugh at that. I don't know why she's such a lightning rod for this sort of thing, because if anyone seems "genuine" in terms of her sweetness on screen, it's Natalie Wood.

    I noticed this sort of inappropriate scattered laughter with "Gypsy" (a marvellously-acted film, by the way) to a minor extent when Miss Wood sings "Little Lamb"...because, you know, a sensitive young woman singing about her pet lamb is just hilarious. But poor Natalie really copped it from the supposedly "sophisticated" Cinematheque crowd with "Splendor in the Grass". Because again, you know, a woman having a mental breakdown is just absolutely scream-worthy.

    Curiously, I was the one of VERY few people who laughed at Phyllis Diller, in particular the joke pertaining to the 1929 Stock Market Crash (actually, "ear-splitting" would be a good way to describe my laughter at this point). But there you have it--I have the--ahem!--"privilege" of existing in a strange world where I am surrounded my people with inverted ideas about humour, where Phyllis is unfunny and Natalie gets all the laughs.

    As for how "well-known" the film is these days: well, there is a musical festival here (Australia) called "Splendor in the Grass", so it must be reasonably well-known to somebody. I'd hazard a guess that audiences from the 1960s would know the name well. Kids these days would probably have little idea about it.

    1. Hi Mark
      Well, you pretty much hit on why seeing movies in theaters has become increasingly less fun for me. Sometimes it's archaic acting styles, melodramatic plotting, or arch dialog, but laughter in strange places can really pull me out the the film experience.
      Sensibilities change, though. Years ago you would go to a screening of "The Birds" and it would be like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" huge laughs everywhere. Now that Hitchcock has been virtually canonized, you see a screening of "the Birds" now and it's quiet as a church.

      Because the public can behave like lemmings sometimes, as no one on high has sanctioned "Splendor in the Grass" as a classic, audiences are likely to respond to the overheated self-seriousness of it all. It's no funnier than the acting in say, "A Streetcar Named Desire", left without guidance of some "expert" telling them how they should respond to a movie, I think all old films are subject to trends. Today's camp favorite is tomorrow's revered classic.

  7. OK, Argyle here, got to weigh in on Natalie Wood. I think she's incredible in this. The scene in the bath tub ("I'm clean, Mama!" or whatever the actual line is) is riveting and horrifying and sad. Talk about an actor connecting with a scene; I'd put it up against Brando. And part of it is the character of Deanie's mother and that actress. I'm not always blown away by Elia Kazan, but this film has great casting. Pat Hingle is also horrifying and real. For me, Warren Beatty is kind of the weak link, but it's such a strong emotional story he can stay sort of unconnected and it still surges forward. The scene in the classroom, where the great mousey teacher reads the poem and badgers NW for her interpretation - if I'm folding laundry or whatever and this happens to be on, I have to wait for that scene. That may not sound like high praise, but if something can pull you out of the mundane and totally choke you up, for me, that's powerful. And then the end, when she visits Bud and family and has to sort of reconcile it all in her head. Who in Hollywood at that time was doing anything that complex? I guess it's personal taste, but "On the Waterfront" has never hit me like "Splendor in the Grass" does. And it's all about the poetry and what Natalie Wood's brain does to get through it. Thanks, Ken! Want to go to your film festival.

    1. Hi Argyle
      I have to say that I am 100% on page with you on this one. The scenes you speak of are specifically the ones that spring to mind when I think of what an amazing job in this.
      Your analysis of those scenes in both this and your following comment say everything I feel about what makes this film work so well for me.
      Beatty mumbles and does the James Dean thing so much, but like you, I really find Pat Hingle to be a bulldog of a character and the familial drama here grips me considerably more than in any other Kazan film (I think macho never interests the male-centric Kazan often leaves me impressed but unmoved).
      Wonderful job distilling the essence of Natalie Wood's performance, Argyle! Thank you so much!

  8. OK, Argyle here, again. I just watched the classroom scene again, online, with the sound turned down, because I'm at work, and it completely kills me. All the different cross-currents in that scene, from petty to cosmic, the absolute emotional anarchy of a high school classroom (or a business office, for that matter) can be totally insane-making, and sometimes, like Deanie, you happen to realize it, and realize that this is what it's all about. And you're able to partially articulate it, amazingly. And then you really do have to run out and get sick. I'm full of admiration for actress, playwright and director. The disengaged classroom atmosphere, the girl in the pumpkin colored sweater, Sandy Dennis over there, still clueless, wrapped up in her own world, the teacher that you might expect could cut you a little slack and see that you're actually understanding something that she's attempting to teach, but she's deep in her own thing. And it's all there, overlapping and colliding and evaporating and reconfiguring all at once. That's what that scene (and maybe the whole movie) is about for me. Maybe Natalie's walk to the front of the class with her hand on her temple is a little self-conscious, but maybe not; she has just GOTTEN it.

    1. You're a woman after my own heart in your profiling this scene. You break down its components like a film class and reveal not only the actor's skill, but the language of film as storyteller. Kazan doesn't just record the action, the scene is so well-directed that it builds (in all those little details you indicate) for us, the fracturing of a girl's mind. You fully understand her falling apart, and I love how Natalie plays it.
      Perhaps she wasn't the greatest actresses, but she must have trusted Kazan enough to let him reveal what's behind those marvelously dark and darting eyes of hers.
      (Oh, and I LOVE that hand to the's like she wishes the floor would just open up and swallow her. It's so teenage and so appropriate fro both the character and the time).
      Greatly enjoyed your comments on this film, and happy that it seems to grab you in much the same way as it does me. You really GOT it, yourself! Thanks.

  9. Replies
    1. Grazas! Tanto me deixa moi feliz! O seu blog é moi fermoso, tamén!

  10. This may be my favorite movie, ever. I had the luxury of avoiding daycare and babysitters and spent all of that time with a grandmother who loved to watch old movies - specifically, Natalie Wood was her favorite actress. While we watched West Wide Story more than I could ever count, Splendor in the Grass was her favorite. When my mother bought it for her for Christmas, she was absolutely delighted.

    Nostalgia isn't the reason for my love of this movie (well, maybe a bit). It's just such a great portrayal of what it is to be at that age. And the performances! I don't understand how Natalie Wood did not win that Oscar. Sophia Loren was great in that movie, as was Piper Laurie in hers, but good god - Natalie Wood commands this movie. I personally can't wait for her to get back on screen when she isn't there. Like you said, the supporting cast was equally wonderful, particularly Barbara Loden.

    I am delighted to see someone else has as much admiration for this movie as I do. When I have friends watch 'old' movies, I usually pull out some old favorites where some aspect - the story, the acting, the cinematography - doesn't 'feel' old, to show them there's more there than they think. This is certainly one of those.


    PS - I know this was posted a while ago, but i couldn't help it, at least for this one.

    1. Replying to my own comment! I forgot to mention - you talk about Natalie Wood's natural edgieness, and I could not agree with that more. In many roles of hers - Gypsy and West Side Story come to mind most - you get a sense that she is holding back a little. Whether that has to do with the character or not, I sometimes feel that I am waiting for the flood gates to open when she is on screen. In this role - they are wide open, and the movie is better for it.

    2. Hi Colin
      A great perk of writing this blog is getting to read stories like yours about why a particular film is a personal favorite. I love that you have a grandmother who is a Natalie Wood fan and she passed that on to you.
      The passion for film is contagious, and it sounds like you are passing on the tradition with your friends.
      We share a similar affinity for Natalie Wood in this film and that quality of hers that makes you feel she can lose it at any minute.
      Thanks for sharing a heartfelt personal tale of appreciation for "Splendor in the Grass" and specifically, Natalie Wood!

  11. Yeah, Natalie Wood was good, but she had been an actress for about 20 years when she made this movie. Beatty, however...... wow, one of the best big screen debuts EVER! And you are right, he certainly was absurdly beautiful. To think of the real ages of the main characters. Hingle was only 37 I think. The actress who played his wife was either late fifties or early sixties as was the actress who played Wood;s mother. Still, they portrayed their parts very believably. A classic, for sure.

    1. Yes, a real star-making debut for Beatty. And that's an interesting point you make about the varying ages of the actors vis a vis the roles they played. They all so believably embody their characters you never notice.
      Thanks very much for your interesting comment and for stopping by my blog!

  12. Hi, Ken. For a couple of months I've been trying to comment a a guest (as I always do) but your sight or google or whatever wouldn't let me. So I had to create a "blog" which I found really creepy. No blog is forthcoming, but at least I can comment again.

    I watched this movie last night for the first time in decades. It seemed a little bit ahead of its time - a doomed teenage romance as more of a fever dream than an actual love story. Wood is great as is almost everyone else in the cast. Oddly, I wasn't totally taken with Warren Beatty. His diffidence is great in comedies like SHAMPOO or even dramas with a subversive edge like BONNIE AND CLYDE and MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER. But I just didn't care for him or about him here. To me he was both bland and narcissistic, a slightly more talented Troy Donahue, as opposed to the arrogant jock so perfectly done by Gary Lockwood (who has a lot more sex appeal in this movie, in my opinion.).

    While watching the movie it suddenly occurred to me that the events in this (fictional) story happen almost simultaneously with the real life story of Bonnie and Clyde. Doing a little wikipedia research I found a couple of interesting things: Both Bonnie and Clyde were born in Texas, but their first bank robbery in 1932 was in Lawrence, Kansas. Clyde was born in 1909 and Bonnie in 1920, meaning she was 18 years old in 1928, the same age as Deanie!!

    1. Hello Kip - i'm sorry it has been such a chore to comment here. Even in checking my blog settings, I see nothing has changed since I initially set it up, leaving me to believe that perhaps it's a Google thing. They seem want to collect everyone's information under the Google by making it tougher for non-members or something to comment. I've never understood it. But I do appreciate your tenacity and ingenuity for the cause!
      Your comments on SPLENDOR are interesting in that your response to Beatty somewhat mirrors my own after having rewatched it over COVID lockdown. That diffident quality you mention wears a little thin with me in certain films (HEAVEN CAN WAIT, LILITH), and here I find his beauty compensates for what I no longer really connect with in his character.
      I also agree with you about Gary Lockwood and his performance and overall sex appeal in this film.
      The Bonnie & Clyde parallels are fascinating! I had no idea that we were dealing with the same time frame. Thanks for calling attention to that.
      It's good to hear from you again and I appreciate your going through so much to contribute here.
      Cheers, Kip!

  13. Whoops, I meant Bonnie was born in 1910. In other words, Bonnie and Clyde were the same ages as Bud and Deanie. One of the above posters did a beautiful examination of the Kazan's brilliant direction of the classroom scene. You could do the same thing with the New Year's Eve Party and the Prom: extraordinarily dense and busy scenes with dozens of characters and yet the camera is always there to pick up just the right reaction, almost as if by accident. The legacy of Kazan is as complicated as Roman Polanski's but boy, those guys knew/know how to direct!

    1. hi again, Kip - I think you were very clear in what you were trying to point out above, but the simplification is good. It's such an interesting, food for thought, factoid. The eras are so differently rendered by the filmmakers, you have to step back and imagine these characters occupying the same place in time.
      And yes, the direction of this movie is very fine. The scenes you mention are all masterfully done.
      The older I get and the more I come to learn about the personal shortcomings of so many creative folks, the separation of art vs artist is becoming a necessity.
      Thank you for commenting, Kip!

  14. Thanks Ken. Oh, one last post. In your covid screening did you notice that one of the men who appears ready to gangbang Barbara Loden at the New Year's Eve Party is Jack Collins, future mayor of San Francisco in THE TOWERING INFERNO??!!

    1. Ha! I didn't notice (in part because I'm always amazed to see such a young Godfrey Cambridge in the scene), but I just took a look at the sequence and noticed the TOWERING INFERNO mayor for the first time. Good eye!