So when, after many years, the opportunity arose for me to finally get a look at Inside Daisy Clover in color, digitally restored, and widescreen, I couldn't pass it up. Alas, 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|
Two things struck me on seeing Inside Daisy Clover again after so many years: 1) A common complaint I have about '60s period films, one so pervasive I should by now accept it as a given (yet can't)-'60s movies are notorious for always looking like the '60s, no matter what era they try to depict. Inside Daisy Clover takes the trouble of changing the novel's 1950s setting to Hollywood in the 1930s. But beyond a few vintage automobiles thrown at us, there seems to be little interest in period authenticity.
2) Why is it that when Hollywood attempts to be hard on itself and show the world its true face, warts and all, it comes across as being phonier than when it's feeding us platitudes and myths? Based on what's come to light over the years about the lives of countless child actors, the events of Inside Daisy Clover are far from exaggerated (over-acted, perhaps). Yet so little of what happens feels particularly true to life. Part of it's due to the acting, which seldom moves beyond the surface. The other points to the writing. Everything grim in the movie has been unnecessarily pitched to melodrama (Plummer's Swan only lacks a top hat, cape, and a handlebar mustache to twirl), and all that which should be moving feels under-directed and under-performed. For example, Daisy's frequent outbursts and eruptions of temper have all the requisite sound and fury, but there's no anguish behind it… Instead, Natalie Wood's one-note performance turns a young girl's pain into a series of shrill tantrums.
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) 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 above 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 for 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.
I half expected her to sound like Edward G. Robinson in this scene
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—making his scenes the most compelling in the movie. But, unfortunately, the same can't be said for gorgeous superstar-to-be Robert Redford. His 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|
THE STUFF OF FANTASY
|"Listen, world, you're gonna love me!"|
Intergalactic megalomaniac Daisy Clover foists herself on an unsuspecting planet
|Character actor and vaudevillian song and dance man Paul Hartman (best known as Emmett the handyman on The Andy Griffith Show) is seen here with Natalie Wood in a deleted scene. Most likely from the film-within-a-film "Dime Store Kid."|
THE AUTOGRAPH FILES: