In the bath scene, Natalie Wood's wrist is very briefly revealed. She normally always wore a bulky bracelet or long sleeves to hide the protrusion of a bone in her wrist which she thought to be an ugly anomaly.
The film's title comes from the poem, "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" by William Wordsworth: "Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendour in the grass, / of glory in the flower, / we will grieve not, / rather find strength in what remains behind."
Even though they were supposed to be playing teenagers, Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty were approximately 22 and 23 respectively at the time of filming. As a result, Elia Kazan decided that the other actors who were to play teenagers in the film should be in their early to mid-twenties as a way to make it easier for the audience to accept Wood and Beatty as teenagers rather than as adults playing teens.
Jane Fonda wrote in her autobiography that she tested for the role of Deanie. When Elia Kazan asked her if she was ambitious, she said no (even though she was) because "good girls aren't supposed to be ambitious." Fonda believes this was the reason for her not getting the role.
Although Elia Kazan had planned to film the movie in Kansas, a severe drought forced him to relocate all shooting to New York state. The waterfall in the film is located in High Falls, New York, in the Catskills.
As filmed, this film included a sequence in which Wilma Dean Loomis takes a bath while arguing with her mother. The bickering finally becomes so intense that Wilma jumps out of the tub and runs nude down a hallway to her bedroom, where the camera cuts to a close-up of her bare legs kicking hysterically on the mattress. Both the Hollywood censors and the Catholic Legion Of Decency objected to the hallway scene, finding the bare backside unsuitable for public display. Consequently, director Elia Kazan dropped the piece, leaving an abrupt jump from tub to bed.
While it was true that Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood did eventually become a couple in real life, those closest to her deny that their relationship began while making this film. Robert Wagner, who visited the set often, saw no evidence of an affair. "Beatty had nothing to do with our breakup, and Natalie didn't begin to see him until after our split," said Wagner. "...Now, it's within the realm of possibility that the affair began earlier, but I don't think that's what happened for one simple reason: she would have told me...Affairs were not part of our equation."
For the scene in which Deanie tries to drown herself in the lake, Natalie Wood asked Elia Kazan if she could do it in a controlled studio tank because she had a great fear of water - particularly dark water. "I assured her it was a very shallow lake and that her feet would always be close to the bottom," said Kazan. "She said that even if her feet were on the bottom, she'd be in a panic of fear about it. So I asked my assistant, Charlie Maguire, to get into the water with her, just out of camera range, while she played the scene of struggling to save herself. This didn't entirely reassure her, but she did the scene and did it well - then clutched Charlie. 'Cut!' I cried. On dry land she continued to shake with fear, then laughed hysterically, with relief."
Right before shooting was set to begin, Pat Hingle suffered devastating injuries when he accidentally fell 54 feet down an elevator shaft in his apartment building. It would take Hingle over a year to fully recover from the accident. In the meantime, however, he decided to go ahead and do the film - he would simply incorporate his limp into the character. "I broke everything," Hingle said later. "I landed upright, so I broke hips and knees and ankles and ribs, and that sort of thing. That lurching walk that Ace Stamper has - that was as good as I could walk."
Film neophyte Warren Beatty looked at Elia Kazan as a teacher and sought to learn as much as possible from him. Kazan taught him how to think about acting, where to put the camera, how to break down a script - all valuable lessons for Beatty, who later went on to direct and produce himself.
Elia Kazan wasn't that enamoured with Warren Beatty, though he couldn't deny that he was very talented. "Warren was a little 'snotty' - I don't know a better word for how he behaved and can't find one in my thesaurus," said Kazan in his 1988 autobiography A Life, "but he was able to grow into a formidable man."
According to one of the makeup artists, the crew found Warren Beatty arrogant and didn't like him. In fact, he was given the nickname "Mental Anguish" or "M.A." for short that crew members called him behind his back.
Natalie Wood wasn't particularly fond of Warren Beatty at first. "...she thought he didn't bathe enough," said her then husband Robert Wagner in his 2008 autobiography Pieces of My Heart. "Scruffiness supposedly equaled authenticity, at least according to the Actors Studio." Wood shared the same thought regarding Beatty's hygiene with close friend Mart Crowley, who was working as one of Kazan's assistants at the time. According to Crowley, this "scruffiness" made her apprehensive about doing love scenes with Beatty.
The love scenes between Warren Beatty became a temptation for the two, even though both were involved with other people - Wood was married to Robert Wagner, and Beatty was engaged to Joan Collins at the time. "To be in love with Warren Beatty!" wrote Elia Kazan in his autobiography. "What girl can run that fast? And why use the word 'love?' Warren - it was obvious the first time I saw him--wanted it all and wanted it his way...Bright as they come, intrepid, and with that thing all women secretly respect: complete confidence in his sexual powers, confidence so great that he never had to advertise himself, even by hints." Kazan claimed that Beatty and Wood fell in love while he "wasn't looking...I wasn't sorry," he said, "it helped their love scenes."
Elia Kazan did whatever what necessary in order to bring out the best possible performances by his actors - it was one of the reasons he was known as one of the best directors in the business. From the beginning, he wanted to strip away the Hollywood glamour from Natalie Wood and get her to a more natural state for the camera, which was appropriate for the character of Deanie. It meant that Wood had to do without the sophisticated makeup and costumes she was used to, which caused her some anxiety. According her friend Mart Crowley, she was always trying to sneak on a little extra rouge or lipstick when Kazan wasn't looking.
There were two scenes that worried Natalie Wood due to the intensity of each: the scene where she has a confrontation with her mother while she is in the bathtub; and the scene in which she tries to drown herself in a lake after Bud rejects her sexual advances. Each time, Elia Kazan found a way to bring out her best, even if his methods left her angry. "The bathtub scene, in which I was to be hysterical," said Wood in a later interview, "always frightened me. And I told Kazan I was very worried about it. His response absolutely threw me for a loop, because he said, 'What you do, I'll let you see the film, and we'll go back and do it again. Or we can play it on Audrey's [Christie] reactions.' And I was so enraged and offended that I became hysterical. That was his way of dealing with me, and it was obviously the correct way, because we only shot it once."