Director Peter Bogdanovich garnered considerable bad press when, during the making of The Last Picture Show, he fell in love with model-turned-screen-ingenue Cybill Shepherd and wound up leaving his then-pregnant wife Polly Platt (the film’s production designer) and their toddler daughter. The flames of Bogdanovich's and Shepherd's already highly-publicized Svengali scandal were further fanned when the director decided to star his lady love in an adaptation of Henry James’ Daisy Miller.
|Cybill Shepherd as Annie P. "Daisy" Miller|
|Barry Brown as Frederick Forsyth Winterbourne|
|Cloris Leachman as Mrs. Ezra B. Miller|
|Eileen Brennan as Mrs. Walker|
|Mildred Natwick as Mrs. Costello|
|Duilio Del Prete as Mr. Giovanelli|
|Our Daisy as you're most apt to find her...mouth wide open and talking a blue streak|
While touring Vevey, Switzerland, Daisy meets American expatriate (the name white immigrants have devised for themselves) Frederick Winterbourne; a formal and reserved young man who has lived abroad so long that he is unaware of how thoroughly he has absorbed and assimilated the repressive manners and moral customs of Europe. Ever the flirt, Daisy takes great pleasure in ruffling Winterbourne’s starchy feathers, heedless of the obvious fact that her actions largely succeed in merely confounding him.
|In this beautifully composed shot, Mr. Winterbourne keeps his eye on Daisy (seen in the mirror behind him, talking to the hostess, Mrs. Walker) while Mrs. Miller prattles away to no one in particular, and Randolph amuses himself with the silverware|
|Innocent flirt or fallen woman?|
|Winterbourne: "Wouldn't it be funny if they both were perfectly innocent and |
sincere and had no idea of the impression they were creating?"
Mrs. Costello: "No, it wouldn't be funny."
|Try as she might, lovely Cybill Shepherd has but a single, all-purpose expression to offer the camera when it comes in for a closeup. Ideal for magazine covers, it's a non-look that communicates considerably less than Bogdanovich thinks|
|Mildred Natwick is a real delight in her brief scenes. This amusingly well-turned-out bathhouse is just one of many examples of Bogdanovich adding visual interest to dialogue-heavy sequences|
Staying true to his devotion to creating a kind of Orson Wells-type repertory company of actors, Bogdanovich features in Daisy Miller a many of the players from The Last Picture Show. Eileen Brennan and Duilio Del Prete went on to join Shepherd in Bogdanovich's next feature, the equally ill-fated At Long Last Love.
Had I seen Daisy Miller when it was released, I'm fairly certain I would have disliked it. In the heat of huge 1974 releases like Chinatown, The Godfather Part II, The Great Gatsby, Mame, The Towering Inferno, and countless disaster films and Oscar contenders (1974 was a biggie!), I'm afraid I wouldn't have appreciated Daisy Miller's small-scale virtues.
Funny how time has the power to work that kind of magic.
|When in Rome, Daisy and her family stay at The Hotel Bristol. Which also happens|
to be the name of the fictional hotel where Barbra Streisand wreaks havoc in What's Up, Doc?
|From 2004: Shepherd tells her favorite Elvis Presley anecdote on The Graham Norton Show|
|Cybill's bestselling 2000 autobiography is available for free download in its entirety on her website |
|"I have never allowed a gentleman to dictate to me, or interfere with anything I do."|