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Brassy, singing tomboy near Hollywood in the 1930s gets a screen test and is soon thrust into the crazy spotlight of Tinsel Town. Ham-handed soaper intends to paint show business as cool, decadent and uncaring, but director Robert Mulligan is unable to set an appropriate tone, and his bad guys are enigmatic shadies who conspire in whispers. This combined with Natalie Wood's raucous rendering of a 15-year-old results in some problems. Still, the look and atmosphere of the film are really extraordinary, and Christopher Plummer gives off sparks of neurotic heat as the head of the movie studio. Robert Redford is a good screen match for Natalie, although his love-interest role is steeped in the hypothetical; Wood herself runs hot and cold, though she has some very strong early moments. The pacing might've stood some picking up, and the movie is much too long, but it looks stylish and has a lot of talent behind it. **1/2 from ****
This film seems way ahead of it's time, made in 1965 it's one of the
first to show a darker side of Tinsel Town. Natalie Wood plays a tomboy
who's plucked from obscurity and becomes a teen singing star. Her
character is almost immediately jaded by the experience, manipulated by
a studio head and a dubious male heartthrob, played by a stunning
looking Robert Redford. Ruth Gordon once again stands out as the teen
stars' mother. Christopher Plummer is excellent as the smooth studio
head with Roddy McDowall as his cold assistant. Katharine Bard plays
Plummers' wife, and her character is fascinating. She seems to float
and flow when she moves and her character sums up the film's overall
feel. Distant, detached and alien yet seething with anger and
The problem with the film is that it's very dark in tone. That is to say the slick big budget production is overshadowed by a strange menace, highlighting the fact that the studio system was basically a people factory, uncaring and cannibalistic. Audiences at the time must have been very confused, expecting a light, breezy musical. Instead it's a realistic yet stylized downer, reminiscent of Valley of the Dolls, which was yet to come. There's very little genuine romance, sentiment or humor, just a steady flow of odd scenes.
This is one of those movies that many have never heard of, it remains obscure despite it's almost epic appeal. It's certainly worth a look, but just try to nail it down to any specific category.
It's always amazed me that this movie doesn't get more respect--sure it's campy, but the performances are fantastic: Christopher Plummer's speech to Daisy by the pool after she's been abandoned by her new husband (a super young Robert Redford playing a gorgeous pansexual for God's sake--what more could a person ask?) is stunning and Natalie Wood's "The Circus is a wacky world"-induced breakdown in the sound booth is brilliant and scary. Roddy McDowell's killing smile as he says "Good night, Miss Clover." Redford getting away with lines like "Good night, sweet, sad, lonely lady" and a drunken Malora (great name) screaming at Daisy "They say I've got a headache, BUT I'VE GOT A HEARTACHE!!!" The gorgeous black and white promotional video of Daisy singing and bouncing her way through the cardboard galaxies. All incredible stuff--why isn't this on DVD yet? Wake up, Hollywood, and give us this treasure on DVD!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Depression-era, rags-to-riches story with Natalie Wood as the tomboy-heroine abandoned by her father and living with her eccentric mother in a run-down shack by the seashore. Discovered by a film producer (the darkly sinister Christopher Plummer), Daisy quickly achieves stardom as a musical singing star (a la Judy Garland) but, unable to cope with the sudden fame, she escapes into a romance with matinée idol Robert Redford. Later realizing that Redford is gay and that her studio sees her only as a commodity, a disillusioned Daisy has a nervous breakdown and attempts suicide before finally finding the strength to turn her back on Hollywood. On the face of it, this film (based on a novel by Gavin Lambert) sounds compelling but too many cartoonish situations and characters (particularly Daisy's mother and sister) undermine the story. Natalie Wood, herself, is allowed to overdo the tomboyish nature of Daisy's personality (she's like a female Huck Finn). Christopher Plummer and Robert Redford are both very good, however, and, in supporting roles, Roddy McDowall and Katherine Bard lurk mysteriously in the background (Bard seems to belong in a different film entirely. When she confronts Daisy following Daisy's failed marriage to the matinée idol, it's like Jane Eyre coming face to face with Rodchester's mad wife). A disappointment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Daisy Clover is 50 years old when she is 16...This means she has the worries, the stress, and the broken promises of misguided relationships and fraudulent compassion, even before her braces come off... Pressure is a key ingredient to her hassled existence, as well as being lead down the garden path by numerous societal retro bates...This sordid lifestyle makes Daisy a victim of life, and an innocent who can rely on nothing but talent and capitulation...Hollywood is a natural playground for debauchery and ambiguous reactions, Daisy's situation is no exception to the rule!! Her one day marriage is a stilted précis which boggles her precocious emotions...Such a devastating debacle would emotionally disrupt a genuine adult and not just somebody masquerading as one. Neon homosexuality (As displayed by Robert Redford) in the thirties, is a new concept to all Americans .. Hollywood is accustomed to it somewhat, however, this is Daisy's entry into adulthood, which is tantamount to learning how to be a pilot when you are behind the cockpit of a Stealth bomber!!....In a nutshell, Hollywood is a morally impervious society which has thrown Daisy one curve of adversity after the next!! This knifing realization is so overdone that Daisy interprets all of this like it is an amuzing little doggerel, and now it is time to buy another comic book!! This movie is a compelling character portrayal by Natalie Wood, and she effectively illustrates how personal neglect can bring a dressed up teenager to the virtual breaking point!! Daisy's nervous breakdown is what unveils the revelation that she is merely a Hollywood commodity, and as "replaceable as piston rods"... If she suffers from clinical depression permanently, it will simply justify the insurance premiums.. Daisy is slightly oblivious to the fact that she is being reduced to chattel!!! At the end of the movie, Daisy wants to commit suicide, but realizes she doesn't have the time... I was in Kindergarten when this movie was made.. In a callous life lesson sense, so was Daisy!!!
Every time I watch this movie, I am more and more impressed with the range of ability that Natalie Wood exhibits. Terrific job on her part. As for the story itself, what really strikes me about "Inside Daisy Clover" is the countless times that she is alone, confined and boxed in. The entire time that Daisy is trying to break loose and make a noise in the world, she continuously finds herself practically jailed. The little booth where she makes her first records, the tiny shop where she sells star photos, the claustrophobic cabin she shares with "The Dealer," the sound room where she dubs "The Circus Is A Wacky World"--all of these create a sense of suffocation. With Daisy constantly placed in these pressure cookers, you just have to believe that sooner or later she is going to explode!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After discovering that Natalie Wood was 27 when she made this film, it was somewhat difficult to believe she was only 15. But ignoring her age and concentrating on her acting helped. At times she is campy, but other times she is absolutely stunning. The movie has beautiful scenery and a good story line, but it is quite random in some spots. Though it leaves a lot to be desired as far as credibility is concerned, the acting is outstanding. Natalie does as best as can be expected as an adult playing a teenager. I keep picturing her as Susan in "Miracle on 34th Street." A very young Robert Redford is a treat. He plays handsome homosexual actor Wade Lewis and you cannot help but fall in love with him just as Natalie's character Daisy Clover does. Roddy MacDowell's role gets quite annoying after awhile but it is still funny. And Christopher Plummer is absolutely incredible as movie producer Raymond Swan. He is simultaneously creepy and fascinating. I could not take my eyes off of him for a moment. There are four good scenes in the movie. 1.) Daisy and Wade meeting for the first time in the white bedroom with the waterfall. 2.) Melora's drunken outrage over Wade's abandoning Daisy. 3.) Raymond's poolside lecture to Daisy. 4.) Raymond's love/hate lecture when he visits Daisy at her beach house. This movie is worth watching for its ability to keep your attention even though it is slow and overdramatic. The ending keeps you guessing as to what happens to Daisy afterwards.
Almost everything about this film ... from the casting and acting, to
the plot, to the musical numbers, to the costumes and hairstyles ...
Natalie Wood, 27 years old, plays 15-year old Daisy Clover, a spunky tomboy/brat/beach bum extraordinaire. Daisy, who lives with her eccentric elderly mom, played by Ruth Gordon, in a shabby wooden trailer near the beach in Southern California, has Hollywood stars in her eyes. And when Raymond Swan (Christopher Plummer), head of The Swan Studio comes calling, Daisy jumps at the chance to be a movie star.
She leaves her mom and lets Swan remake her into America's ideal of a teenage girl. In effect, Swan Studio is Daisy's image maker. Even though surrounded by cold-blooded snakes in the movie business, Daisy is such a brat that she doesn't elicit much sympathy from me. But then I found little interest in any of the characters.
With the exception of Daisy's mom, the characters lack depth of emotion. Maybe that's the point ... Hollywood is filled with emotionally empty people. They're all image, no substance.
Set in the 1930s, the film has visuals that look straight out of the 1960s, especially relative to hairstyles and costumes. The musical numbers, though well executed, trend toward upbeat, bubble gum optimism, which is inconsistent with the film's overall thematic cynicism. I know what they're driving at with these musical numbers. But the abrupt tonal shift is jarring.
Perhaps the worst element of this film is Natalie Wood's performance. She seriously overacts. It's a performance not unlike that of Patty Duke, in "Valley Of The Dolls" (1967).
"Inside Daisy Clover" is filmed in color. It would have been more realistic had it been filmed in 1930s B&W. And the cinematography projects an annoying wide screen image.
The only thing I liked about this film is the presence of the always interesting, and unique, Ruth Gordon. Otherwise, this film is forgettable.
Inside Daisy Clover is not just any movie about a wanna-be-star that has her dream come true and in the process witnesses the changes and corruption that bring her to the top. It is a movie about the movie industry itself. Actually it is the BEST movie that Hollywood has ever made about itself. Natalie Wood stars as the 15-year-old child star and manages to pull it through. She is a lot older and we all know, but there are times when just a look or a smile of hers can be nothing but as close to childhood as an adult actress could ever get. On the other hand we have Robert Redford, the young careless and unsteady lover that lifts everyone he meets to the sky and then dumps them to the ground leaving in his passage something more than pain: the realization that what is inevitable will happen and we all know it from the beginning. Somehow we wish it were different but it isn't and the end offers the only solution that could close such a movie without destroying its unique feeling. Redford's role is undoubtedly the greatest of his career. He is so young, strong and handsome that no one can resist him. And yet, there is a lot more hidden beneath his nice facade than anyone could ever think possible. Somehow he is a tortured character that finds content in hurting others but still he does it in such a way that you can't but admire him. Even the most fanatic feminist can try to persuade me he isn't the most charming - and at the same time cryptic - character even written for the big screen but the truth remains the same: like Michael Caine in Alfie we'd love to hate him but we can't! I must say the end is not exactly as dark as I would have expected it given the fact that we all know Daisy's path goes only downhill from the moment she meets Wade (Redford) but the queer thing (and what makes it a little unbelievable and lame) is that she manages to survive in such a random way that even the viewer wouldn't want her to. But that's the beauty of it all!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There are many films out there which depict Hollywood "from the
inside". This one falls somewhere in the lower-middle of the pack.
I first saw "Inside Daisy Clover" on TV as a teenager (around Daisy's age), and thought it was great. I waited years to see it again. Now that I've seen it as an adult, I feel the same way about it as I did when I saw the show "Lost in Space" as an adult. Both are utterly cheesy - and not a nice, ripened Brie, but more like Kraft's "Easy Cheese" in a spray can.
As a teenager, I wasn't really convinced about Natalie Wood as a teenager in this film. Her attempts to come off as what we'd call "street smart" today, look silly. Tommy Bond as "Butch" in the "Our Gang" shorts did it more convincingly! Still, I am a Natalie Wood fan, and for the most part, she was OK in this film - she did a great job in the musical sequences (my least favourite parts, I'll admit. This time, I was able to fast forward through some of them). I know she didn't do all of her own singing - I was referring to the physical performances in those scenes when I said she did a great job.
I enjoyed the dubbing scenes, where Daisy was essentially trapped in the iso booth while being forced to sing along to her happy, smiling self on-screen in front of her. And she had to do so at the behest of her lover, the producer, in spite of her mother's very recent death! Watching Daisy unravel as the film's count-in would beep, beep, beep, beep, over and over again, was creepy.
There have been a number of comments about Natalie's age relative to the character's age, but no one seems to have mentioned Ruth Gordon in that context.
While watching the film again tonight, I wondered if Daisy was a post-menopausal baby, as Ruth Gordon was nearly 70 when the film was made - 70 with a 15 year old child! And the sister Gloria - she looked to be in her mid 30s at least! Who did the casting on this film? And were they employed for another film? I don't know why they even bothered to go with the story being set in 1936 - perhaps because that kind of "musical star" didn't exist in the Vietnam era? They may have opted for "modern" styles perhaps, because young people would not have wanted to see a film that was set in the 1930s? While watching the film, it occurred to me that the only things that would make it a period film seem to be the cars, and the kitchen in the beach house, for the most part. Why didn't they simply make the film set in 1965, about an actress? I didn't realise that Ruth Gordon was nominated for this film. I think that by then, she had that character down-pat. She seemed to play it in so many films. Whenever her name was listed in a cast, I expected to see a wacky, eccentric grandmotherly type in the cast, and was never disappointed.
Christopher Plummer was fantastic, as always. He was a perfect mix of smarmy charm with menacing undertones. He is good at playing someone who can say, "Your mother is dead" and follow that up almost immediately with "Smile. Smile bigger... Smile BIGGER...." Robert Redford did a great job as the charming, self-absorbed, alcoholic, bi-sexual "heart throb". If I heard him use the phrase "Dear Heart" once more, though, I would've taken a page out of Daisy's book and stuck MY head in the oven (even though my oven's electric!).
Why was Roddy McDowall in this film at all? He didn't get to show off any of his great talents. Surely an unknown would've worked cheaper? It seemed to be hinted at that there was, or had been, something between his and Robert Redford's characters. I couldn't help feeling that perhaps some of his scenes were left out of the finished film.
Anyway, to sum up, this isn't a horrible film. It's worth a look, if there's nothing better on!
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