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Heartbreakingly beautiful performance by Natalie Wood...
Doylenf1 June 2001
Warning: Spoilers
For me, the greatest moments in "Splendor in the Grass" come with the emotional wallop you feel during the last ten minutes when Natalie Wood pays an unexpected visit to her old love (Warren Beatty) and finds that time has changed everything.

She has those enormously expressive eyes--and wearing that wide-brimmed straw hat and lovely costume she looks so picture-book perfect you want to melt. And, of course, during the film she practically tears your heart out with a passionate portrayal of a girl awakening to love--only to have it all dissolve in the bittersweet ending.

Touching, sensitive and beautifully played. William Inge's perceptive screen play is an exceptional piece of writing and has the same haunting mood as his "Picnic" in addition to being a slice of real Americana. He has a real feel for defining all of the minor characters as well.

Pat Hingle is, as always, excellent as the father from hell, and others in the cast give earnest, realistic performances. Elia Kazan proves that he's one of the most brilliant directors we have.

I'm not a Warren Beatty fan but he gives an exceptionally good performance here as the uncertain football hero. As for Natalie, it's the most tender and touching performance of her career. She was rightfully nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress but lost the award to Sophia Loren for "Two Women". Whatever, 1961 was quite a year for Natalie Wood. "West Side Story" was voted Best Picture and she made quite a good impression as Maria too.
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Splendor all around!
David-24029 August 1999
This is a beautiful and powerful film - flawlessly acted, directed and written. It is easily the best of the sexual awakening movies that were so popular in the late fifties, early sixties. And why wouldn't it be - with Kazan at the helm and an original screenplay by William Inge.

The film begins with a similar theme to "Rebel Without a Cause" - that is why won't parents treat their children like human beings and really help them come to terms with becoming adults? But halfway through Inge does a clever turn-around and allows the kids to discover that their parents are human beings too, with all the weaknesses and frailties that go with being human. At the same time Inge portrays the coming of age of America as the joy of the roaring twenties moves into the gloom of the Depression.

The story is about how prejudice and blind morality destroys a great love - sex shouldn't be such a huge issue between two people who love each other, but the enormous pressures from outside to either do it or refrain from doing it cause confusion, pain and hurt. Who will ever forget Natalie Wood leaping naked from a bath screaming at her mother that she is not "spoiled"? Wood gives the performance of her life here, convincingly portraying adolescent love, a nervous breakdown, and the blossoming into woman-hood. Beatty too is splendid as the confused Bud. And both are so achingly beautiful!

The supporting cast is superb down to the smallest role. Barbara Loden is particularly memorable as Beatty's wild flapper sister, but Pat Hingle as his father, and Audrey Christie and Fred Stewart as Wood's parents are also unforgettable.

This is a resonant film that I believe will be more and more appreciated with the passing of time.
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Splendor In The Grass, Glory In The Flower, Nothing Can Bring Back The Hour
Noirdame7914 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Opening on a glorious shot of a waterfall and a passionate lip-lock between raven-haired beauty Natalie Wood and boyishly handsome Warren Beatty in an old-fashioned car, the ambivalent need to succumb to temptation but wanting to be good - "Don't Bud - no!" Elia Kazan's masterpiece of adolescent longing, self-discovery and suppression is a fabulous experience. The hypocritical society that stifles young Deanie Loomis (Wood), drilling that no nice girl indulges or thinks about natural sexual desires and impulses, while young men are free to pursue their lust, but not with any virtuous girls. Deanie, daughter of a working-class family, is madly in love with Bud Stamper (Beatty, in his debut), the son of the wealthiest clan in town, and star of the school's athletic teams. Their romance is doomed by their parents' interference and control. Bud can't continue the relationship with all the pressure placed on him by his domineering father, Ace (Pat Hingle), not to mention the presence of his nymphomaniac, flapper sister, Ginny (Barbara Loden, who, at this time, was Mrs. Elia Kazan). Deanie's mother (Audrey Christie) constantly shadows her daughter, discouraging her from any impure thoughts or actions. After their breakup, Bud gets his release from the most promiscuous girl in school, and this devastates Deanie, who feels that she has to go bad to regain his love and attention. At a school dance, she copies Ginny's seductive style, and attempts to seduce Bud to get him back. He turns her down, leading Deanie to the reservoir where her nervous breakdown explodes, and she is sent to a sanitarium to recuperate. Bud then has to find himself, while Deanie must heal to regain her sanity and sense of self-worth.

Each of their journeys are poignant, as is the revelation that Ginny, on a self-destructive path, dies in an automobile crash. She obviously desperately wanted her father's unconditional love and attention, which he refused to give her, never ceasing to remind her that she was an embarrassment and a disappointment. Her drunken argument with Bud says it all - "If you weren't my brother, you wouldn't even come near me! You're a nice boy, you're nice, I know what you nice boys are like - you only talk to me in the dark!" Bud's meeting with his future wife, Angelina (Zohra Lampert) and Deanie's relationship with fellow patient Johnny, beautifully presents the inner peace and healing that each of the protagonists have sought. The climax is a wonderfully touching end - a reunion of sorts, to make peace with the past.

"Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower, we will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind." Wood was Oscar-nominated for Best Actress, and she certainly was deserving of that accolade. She and Beatty began an relationship after shooting was completed that was sadly short-lived, kind of a painful echo of their on-screen relationship. Another sad parallel is Deanie's breakdown as she swims in the reservoir, since Wood's tragic demise would be as a result of the element that she feared most - water.

The film also features the debuts of Gary Lockwood, Sandy Dennis and Phyllis Diller, as well as Splendor's playwright author, William Inge, in a cameo as the church reverend.

A beautiful piece of movie-making, deserving of its status as a classic.
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Natalie Wood's finest performance
Gideon2412 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Splendor in the Grass is the 1961 classic of forbidden love, mental illness, and family manipulation that features the finest performance of Natalie Wood's career and marked the film debut of Warren Beatty.

Set in a small town in 1920's Kansas, this is the story of a mentally fragile high school student named Deenie Loomis (Wood) who enters a doomed romance with school stud Bud Stamper (Beatty), an aimless young man who allows his life to be quietly manipulated by his wealthy father (Pat Hingle), who is grooming Bud to take over the family business but in the meantime has decided that Deenie is not good enough for his son and forces him to end the romance, which sends Deenie on a slow descent into insanity, which actually climaxes with her being institutionalized.

In the tradition of cinematic couples like Scarlett and Rhett, George Eastman and Angela Findlay, and Katie Morofsky and Hubbell Gardner, screenwriter William Inge has created star-crossed lovers who we immediately empathize with but also know that they are doomed.

Elia Kazan's vivid direction and his respect for Inge's story is evident, and there is effective support from Hingle and from Audrey Christie as Deenie's harridan of a mother, but the real selling point here is Wood, who turns in a blistering and evocative performance as the fragile Deenie, a performance that earned Wood her first Oscar nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress, an award I think she should have won.

There is an underlying sadness to the performance as we watch Wood do two particularly moving scenes involving water, one in a bathtub and one in a river, which Wood completely invests in, despite her lifelong fear of water and the way the actress eventually died. A film classic that should not be missed. Remade as a TV movie by NBC with Melissa Gilbert as Deenie.
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A celebration of romantic love, sex included
bob-790-19601817 February 2011
This is a fine movie, with a great screenplay by William Inge, director Elia Kazan's ability to convey powerful emotions, and a marvelous performance by Natalie Wood.

Typically relegated to the second ranks among playwrights, Inge deserves more critical respect than he receives. Here, as in "Picnic," he celebrates romantic love, shows how inseparable it is from sex, and portrays the damage done by a conventional world that insists on separating them.

We belittle the small-town characters in the film, who see the world in terms of "good" girls and "bad" girls, but many reviewers have shown a similarly reductionist outlook on a more sophisticated level. They have seen this movie as "Freudian," showing love to be a sublimation of sex. Or they have belittled it as just another "rebellious youth" film of the type that was so popular in the 1950s and early 1960s. Pauline Kael wrote about Natalie Wood's apparently too active "behind," and on TCM, Robert Osborne introduced the movie as one in which the young couple is motivated by "hormones."

In the movie, it is plain that the young couple truly love each other, and it is also plain that they desire each other sexually. So it always will be with young people in love. This is the glory of romance. People frequently love without a sexual involvement, and people frequently have sex without love. But romantic love is a matter of both "body" and "soul" acting as one.
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"I got all my hopes pinned on you now, boy".
classicsoncall20 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
One would think that given the title of the film, there would be a sense of fullness and joy that comes with the telling of the story. Instead, this turned out to be one of the more depressing and agonizing pictures one might hope to experience that deals with teenage angst and loneliness. In a way, I was reminded of "Rebel Without a Cause", as young high schoolers are presented, dealing with the emotional detachment of parents too busy with their own lives or having no interest in what their progeny are going through. In that respect, Pat Hingle's character, Ace Stamper turns out to be the most clueless one of the lot here.

I'd have to say that Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty turned in virtuoso performances in this film. Both carry their characters through an entire range of emotions dealing with unrequited love and emotional pain, with the requisite happy ending for the couple nowhere to be found. In that respect, this is one of the truly heart rending stories of two people who might have been right for each other, except for the moral and social taboos that thwart their effort to remain together. In a way, I thought Bud's (Beatty) response to Deanie's (Wood) holding out was a bit overwrought; his conversation with the family doctor obviously held no consolation, while his self directed solution to hook up with a loose girl provided no satisfaction.

As for Deanie, I thought it tragic that her solid family life didn't offer the kind of foundation she needed to stay grounded in reality over a broken romance. She's dealt another blow to her fragile world view when learning of Bud's marriage and family, and in his own way, it appeared to me that Bud himself never fully recovered from his first romance. Instead of that warm and happy feeling one is left with when people find themselves, this movie explores the consequences of life as it happens when lived, or perhaps more tragically, when life is not lived effectively.
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Really is a splendid film
TheLittleSongbird21 August 2014
Splendor in the Grass is my fourth Elia Kazan film, the other three being A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront and East of Eden. All three of those are wonderful films, On the Waterfront even being one of the best films of the 50s, and-apart from it being a little too long and psychologically simplistic in places-so is Splendor in the Grass. It looks absolutely beautiful and is technically accomplished, with the 20s setting actually looking like the 20s, and David Amram's score is romantic, lyrical and emotionally searing while allowing the drama to speak for itself. The script rightly won an Oscar, it is a very intelligently written film with no padding, it's both thought-provoking and poignant and it draws and develops the characters remarkably- bringing humanity and flesh-and-blood-quality to potential stereotypes- the most interesting being Deanie. The story takes its time to unfold but it's all worth it, it is done so gracefully, the romantic elements are sweet without being cloyingly so and it is also one of the most moving films I've seen. Especially the ending which is heart-breaking. Kazan's direction is remarkably sensitive, more so than his occasionally heavy-handed direction in East of Eden. The powerful performances in Splendor in the Grass also help, the standouts being Pat Hingle and especially Natalie Wood. Hingle is quite terrifying as the formidable father figure and Wood has never been more tender and it is a contender for her best performance(the bath-tub breakdown was another truly moving moment in the film, and the emotion felt genuine and not forced). Warren Beatty makes a most credible feature debut, acting with understated poise, while Audrey Christie dominates the screen while giving her maternal character depth and Barbara Lodon relishes her role too. All in all, a splendid film that is beautifully made and really tugging at the heart-strings. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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Get The Kleenex Ready
secragt21 April 2003
So poignant, it hurts. And I'm a heterosexual male who enjoys football and grunge. Though some of the attitudes toward sex have been tempered in the intervening years, the turmoils and pressures of being a teen ring just as true today 42 years after this film's release. Kazan is a master at capturing those wrenching angsty adolescent and post-adolescent moments of emotional vulnerability and doubt, especially concerning the love/hate between children and their parents, and this is among his best work. A reminder that wistful remembrances of the seeming innocence and happiness of youth are probably wishful thinking, and also an ironic prodding that there is seemingly something idealistic lost or compromised when we enter adulthood. Kudos to the entire cast but in particular, Natalie Wood is scintillating, perfectly encapsulating the joys and horrors of someone caught up in the dizzying power and raging hormones of teen love. Beatty is solid, too, if a bit overly earnest.

All of the twists and turns of the plot work, though ultimately Bud's family's economic setbacks and deaths and Didi's family's successes are mere soap operatic window dressing to the "A" plot line, which is the heart tugging reality of "nothing bringing back the hour of the Splendor In The Grass" for Bud and Didi, though both obviously still share the feeling. This is the kind of movie that doesn't get made in America now because of the non-commercial (but accurate) ending. Okay, they broached it in the less psychologically challenging CASTAWAY, but slapped on a happy ending afterwards.

SPLENDOR is not perfect; Bud's father (Pat Hingle) is a little overwrought and stereotypically drawn as the socioeconomic snob with castratingly ambitious designs on Bud's future. Bud's sister (Barbara Loden) is similarly too pat as the troubled, neglected child who does all she can to get daddy's disapproval. Still, any of the soapy aspects of the plot just fall away when the Beatty / Wood romance plot line gets cooking. They got the meat of this movie just right and the result is one of the most memorable and vivid examples of young romance ever set down on celluloid. Don't miss it!
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a masterpiece about youth's pain and what you learn from it
fercastro22 October 2004
There are movies, and then there are sensorial experiences like SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS. The sound of the water in the first scene, the color of Natalie Wood skin, the absolutely black of Warren Beaty's hair, the smell of champagne in the "crazy party"... SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS is not only a movie, it's an experience that anyone that was once young can understand and feel. The characters go through love, sexual arousing, separation, and pain... not because of a villain, but because of life, and ultimately, because of themselves. The splendor of the title is that rare moment in life where everything clicks, the moment that you will remember forever from your youth. See it. You won't forget.
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Technically and emotionally beautiful
nicholas.rhodes17 March 2001
This is a most beautiful film in all senses ; picture quality and colors which they don't seem capable of making any more in spite of all the modern technology, beautiful scenery, and above all two beautiful actors. I also loved the clothes Nathalie Wood wore during the film. Pat Hingle plays a character almost unbelievable today. Although this " frustrated love " is sad and brings tears to my eyes, I still cannot help watching the film quite regularly even though I know the end will leave me frustrated. There is a lot if implied rather than visible passion in this film ( its French title is - " la fièvre dans le sang " or fever in the blood ). This hidden, repressed passion is more gripping than if we had seen the couple simply lie down and get on with it !! But perhaps the passion is a little too stifled and a few short scences with more passionate physical contact might have satisfied the spectator ! But that's a very subjective matter. But I end as I started by reiterating the total beauty of the film at all levels.
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Powerful Movie With A Timeless Message
Tulsa9014 April 2002
I watched Splendor In The Grass today in its entirety for the first time. I had seen bits and pieces of it on late night TV before, and had planned to try and see the whole movie for many years. I must say that I strongly disagree with the notion that this movie is "dated" and has lost its power over the last 40 years. This movie is not about un-requited love, but rather about two people who are deeply in love with each other. Unfortunately, due to various external forces such as their parents, their peers, the pressure to fit in with the rest of "normal" society, their fears, their innocent lack of understanding of how special their feelings are for each other, etc. all lead to one screwed up attempt after another to open up to each other and try to act on what they feel in their hearts. While some of the dialogue may be "dated", these two people struggling with love together is in my opinion as timeless as love itself.

This is one of those rare movies that while brilliant in its day, is somehow enhanced further by its age (it was filed 40 years ago in 1961). The age of the movie seems to make its message even more powerful. Lost love, time marching on, people trying to leave the past in the past and move forward, these messages are somehow made more realistic and more moving by the knowledge of the passage of time that has occurred since this film was made. Am I making any sense here?

My gosh, Natalie Wood was a flower in full bloom when she appeared in this film. What a beautiful young woman she was and she gave a wonderful performance as Deannie. Warren Beatty was good too as Bud, her high school sweetheart, but Natalie Wood stole the show. What a lucky guy Robert Wagner was for being married twice to this beautiful and talented woman. What is it about this film, that in spite of the fact that I never knew Natalie Wood in real life, just watching her in this film and realizing she is gone from this world brings me deep feelings of sadness. She would be 63 years old now, the same age as my mother, had she not been tragically killed in a drowning accident in California.

I am not educated in the art of film making or acting. However, I am a lover of good movies. This film makes we wish I had studied acting or directing or film or whatever, so that I could be involved in the production of movies like Splendor in The Grass.

I am babbling and jumping around all over the place here but I want to add a couple more thoughts. I disagree with the notion that this movie tries to sell the message that one must forget about the past and move on. To the contrary, I think the true message delivered by this film is that you only have one life on this planet, one chance, and if you are lucky enough to find someone that makes you feel the way Deannie and Bud felt for each other, you should do your best to explore it for what it is and not throw it away, because you are young. The future may not always bring someone else along that makes you feel the same way again. Also, parent's may think they know what is best for their children at all times, especially about who they should go out with or become involved with. But parent's have to let their children live their own lives, or their meddling may do way more harm and none of the good they intended.
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Exceptionally well-drawn characters in a heartbreaking story
Perception_de_Ambiguity7 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
In the beginning I found it average and unexciting. But around the time when Warren Beatty's character Bud doesn't see Natalie Wood's Deanie anymore because Bud's father has bigger plans for him, plus he doesn't get to sex Wilma because her mother tells her it is evil, I very much became involved. It's funny that I thought those two actors also played together in 'West Side Story' considering the similarities in story. The big difference is that their parents in this film aren't sworn enemies and that smaller and much more real obstacles (aka bad parenting) stood in the way of love and possible happiness.

I was mildly impressed by how fast it was told in parts. There are scenes that only have a handful of dialogue (~20 seconds long) and then it moves on to the next one. But those scenes never seemed ill-timed or useless. You understood what they were driving at. Overall the character's motivations were tremendously well-drawn. I saw why character's did what they did, why they didn't do what they didn't do and I knew what they felt. This I consider essential to be deeply involved in the movie. Here the credit goes to the screenplay and in smaller parts also to the cast. It has been a long time since a film did get to me as much as this one.

And there is one scene that made me laugh like I haven't laughed in a long time. When Bud's sister brings her boyfriend for lunch (this time it's a gas station attendant) her mother talks to him and asks him some questions that shouldn't be too hard to answer. The guy just looks at her with a blank face and then turns to his girlfriend and says "Huh?". Half a minute later it happens again, he turns to his girlfriend and says "What?". I laughed for two minutes.

I'm not sure I know why I found this so hilarious, but I can try to explain it. It is an absurd reaction, so it is contrary to reason. But what makes it so funny is that at the same time I find it believable and it shows a total lack of respect for the mother. Not only that, but the mother obviously can live with this lack of respect, as she keeps speaking to him. There is just so much going on in these few seconds and something made click in my head.

Also, the ending (but not exclusively the ending) reminded me a lot on 'Lolita' ('90s version). There is also this scene towards the end when the two ex-lovers meet again after some years. The viewer has to realize that their love is a thing of the past, that it just can't be like it used to be and that this is an unchangeable part of life. Nobody is really happy how things turned out but we can just assume that they are still better off this way.
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Perhaps the best film ever to show the consequences of sexual repression
antoniocasaca12313 March 2018
I found the film beautiful. Perhaps the best film ever to show the consequences of sexual repression. Natalie Wood is absolutely superb, both in terms of beauty and in terms of her fantastic performance. Warren Beatty, in his first film role, is fine too. Elia Kazan knew how to make movies. This "splendor in the grass", "on the waterfront", "a streetcar named desire", among others, are movies that remain in our memory, which made us experience sensations and feelings, which "touched" us in our soul.
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Natalie Wood as a youngster in clinch with the reality of growing up.
clanciai12 October 2015
The amazing thing about each and every film directed by Elia Kazan is what he gets out of his actors to make them perform better than in almost any film by any other director. He must have been the most knowledgeable person instructor ever in films. Here it is worth while concentrating on watching the performance of Natalie Wood especially in the first crisis scenes. There is nothing like it in film history - the extreme sensitivity, the close-up following of her mind, how he lets the camera wander as she gropes her way through a reality that has become her enemy, her questioning looks, her invisible but extreme terror - he catches all this on film, and no wonder she was after this film given the role of Maria in "West Side Story". The film is all hers, he has given it to her almost like a personal offering, while Warren Beatty in his first major appearance is no more than what he is intended to be - almost a helpless dummy. When Natalie gets affected he is at a total loss and can't handle any emotionalism at all, while all he can do is to escape into the arms of another as an abject coward, which is what he does, leaving Natalie stranded in her emotional psychosis, like watching a drowning victim out there in the storm from the shore and doing nothing. His father, on the other hand, is another extremely remarkable performance, he overacts from the beginning and keeps overacting and even worsening it until the end, and he is the real tragedy of the story - like his son, he doesn't understand anything and least of all what is right. It's a simple story about the first love of youths and how it must burn you, it always does, but Elia Kazan's treatment of it turns it into a tremendous heart-breaker. And it's the same with every film by him - he turns his actors into more than just living, burning, and self-consuming people but toweringly passionate, and more alive, convincing and sympathetic persons than if they were real.
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Transcends time and culture; a great love story.
bobsgrock6 March 2009
Elia Kazan's wonderful and tearful story about two young lovers fighting their own urges and everyone around them is certainly a film that is hard to watch at times. The simple reason for that is the writing is so spot-on and the direction flawless it becomes more than a movie in the traditional sense but more of a inner look into the intertwining of a relationship on the ends of its life. This can only be accomplished with two wonderful actors capable of carrying the material farther than it could be on paper alone. Natalie Wood was one of the finest young actresses of her generation and this showcases her talent better than perhaps any other film she did. She conveys such incredibly strong feelings of remorse, desperation and sadness as the fragile Deanie, it takes the audience into the world of this character and we can feel nothing but sympathy for her. The same is true with Bud, played here by a very young Warren Beatty.

Perhaps the one true problem I saw with this film is that the story doesn't go far enough. I understand they were already under fire from the censors for their portrayal of young people trying to repress sexual urges, but I'm sure Kazan could have come up with a way to show not just how Bud and Deanie felt about each other but to better examine the relationship with their respective parents. There are several scenes I thought and hoped would go even further in-depth to the problems being faced here, but instead it pulls back and we are left to wonder. If there is one thing that saves the movie it is the final sequence, showing what happens to the two lovers and what this means for them now. This is absolutely touching and beautiful and a great ending to an other wise uncomfortable story.

Still, to think of the film in retrospect is to take it seriously and understand that this is not just a story about two people in love at a time when everybody was telling them to not be. It is in fact, a symbol of the restraints that pull on any of us that have ever been involved seriously with somebody. It speaks to us not just as lovers but also as human beings desiring companionship and the great pains we will go through to make that happen.
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It will break your heart
ztruk200127 March 2005
Warren Beatty made his screen debut in Hollywood with this treasure of a film. One of the best ever made. For me, I can barely make it through without shedding a tear. It's probably the most emotionally devastating film I've seen and somehow struck a chord with me like few other films have. The Shootist and The Bridges of Madison County are two other movies that bring out the Kleenex, but not the way Kazan's film can. The setting is a dim rural Kansas farming community in the days just prior to the Great Depression. Yet things are good in the beginning. The Stamper family is making a fortune off their stocks and the Loomis family has recently invested and stands to make money as well. Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood play two of the children of the families who go together in high school and are desperately in love. Beatty is Bud Stamper and Wood is Deannie Loomis. Both are in their teenage years and their hormones are raging. Sexual repression and it's consequences are examined in the film and why such conservatism and restraint exists. Bud and Deannie do not have sex, though both feel extremely uncomfortable from the tension that arises when they mutually suppress their instincts. Deannie is told by her mother that good girls don't do things like that, nor should they enjoy it. Bud on the otherhand is told by his freewheeling father, played excellently by Pat Hingle, that there's two kinds of girls in the world. Those that put out and those that don't. His only advice for his son is to not get into trouble, by which he means get a girl pregnant. Bud knows all too well about the "other" kind of girl, as his sister has become one of them. Bud fights pressures on all sides of his life including sports, his relationship with Deannie, finding a college, and sexual repression. Yet he is emotionally stable enough to take it. Deannie on the otherhand makes an altar to Bud and her entire existence seems to revolve around him. What makes the film so compelling is watching these wonderful characters who are not cliché' even if their problems sometimes are. Warren Beatty plays his role naturally sensitive but conflicted with his father and peer's advice that he "man-up." Deannie is quiet, shy, beautiful, and sensitive. When Bud's need can no longer remain in check he sleeps with another girl. This news sends Deannie into complete shock. Natalie Wood brings so much depth to the character. I can vision a thousand places where her scenes could have gone wrong, but somehow it works. Even the most difficult and infamous scene in the movie where Wood is soaking in the tub and then stands up screaming at her mother before running out of the bathroom. Deannie's mother only wants the best for her, but it's the old fashioned values, restraint, and the pain of Bud with another girl, which eventually snowball into Deannie being sent to a mental institution after a nervous breakdown and suicide attempt (ironically Wood attempts suicide by drowning in the movie, years later the real life Wood died from drowning. She carried a fear of water with her through her entire life). From this point in the movie the stock market crashes and Bud moves past Deannie but fails college before continuing his personal dream of becoming a farmer. William Wordsworth wrote the poem from which the film takes its name. The film deals with first love in a way few other films have. Certainly a movie of today examining the issue would not be so foreboding. One might think the film is unrealistic because of the outbursts and almost too fragile teens. It is easy to laugh and say how stupid and ignorant love is at that age, but for those who've lived and felt it, I think it'd be difficult to see this movie as far fetched in anyway. Or even scoff at the characters and their desperate behavior. Afterall, we're dealing with an age and time where suicide is among the leading causes of death for teenagers and 20-year olds and one of the major factors are breakups with first loves. Natalie Wood gives one of the finest, most powerful performances in all of cinema. She'll break your heart and make you feel as much for her character as possible with the medium. Warren Beatty is also good as Bud, the confused and repressed young man who just wants things to make sense. There are few films as fine as Elia Kazan's 1961 picture that tackles these subjects and can deal with them in such a sincere and emotional way.
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Love can drive you really crazy.
Boba_Fett113826 April 2011
It must have been so easy and tempting to turn this movie into something overblown and melodramatic but the reason why "Splendor in the Grass" works out is because it doesn't fall for any of that and manages to be an original and effective movie within its genre, without actually featuring an original story.

It's fair to say that it's being thanks to Elia Kazan's directing and storytelling technique that this movie works out as something so effective and powerful. He slowly lays everything out and develops the story and all of its characters and their (love) relationships with each other. It makes all of its build up work out, as well as the pay off, at the end of it all. It besides is being a movie that really give all of its actors the room to really shine and tell the story, at times without using any words.

Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty were such a great young screen couple within this movie. You could really feel their love and all of their emotions within this movie. But the movie has many more other great characters and actors in it, such as Pat Hingle, in perhaps his very best role. Such a shame that as an actor he never really received the recognition he deserved because he was a really capable one, who had a wide range as well.

The movie doesn't ever get overblown or sappy, despite of all of its heavy handed subjects in it. I mean, lots of stuff and drama is happening in this movie but yet it really manages to remain a really down to Earth one. Really no matter how unlikely the story ever gets, the movie manages to make everything come across as something realistic. You can feel all of the emotions the characters have to suffer through, which is of course about the biggest compliment you can ever give any drama.

Really a must-see if you're into old fashioned, big, family-drama's.


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Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty are perfect in Splendor in the Grass
tavm2 February 2021
I had previously seen this movie in segments as I remember either changing the channel during some of the parts or maybe temporarily turning it off before turning it on again. Anyway, so Mom and I just watched this now and we were so touched by it that we were silent most of that time. Natalie Wood and new to film Warren Beatty make quite a convincing teen couple so much in love they almost give in. Also fine are Audrey Christie as Wood's mom and Art Hingle as Beatty's dad as well as Barbara Loden as Beatty's loose sis. And then there's Phyllis Diller as a brassy nightclub owner! Also, fine screenplay by William Inge (which won the Oscar) and great direction by Elia Kazan. So on that note, we both recommend Splendor in the Grass.
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A bit overwrought and heavy, but with sensitive handling and performances...
moonspinner5514 February 2009
Young lovers in 1928 Kansas break up, with wrenching consequences for the girl. Troubled teens vehicle garnered an Academy Award nomination for Natalie Wood, also introducing Warren Beatty as her fading beau (he seems encumbered a bit by his pretty masculinity but otherwise does solid work). Wood is also attractive, though her voice hasn't much range--she stays on the same sweetly-dazed monotone throughout--and even when she's freaking out in the bathtub, crying "I'm a good girl, mama!", Wood's delivery is dreamy-flat. The plot strays on occasion, and we never learn exactly why Beatty breaks it off with Nat (we get the impression his wanton sister embarrasses him, and the stronghold on Wood's virginity frustrates him, but it's awfully quick and cold). The 1920s scenario wasn't really necessary except to shoehorn in the business dealings of Beatty's family (and the Stock Market crash), yet the writing by William Inge and Elia Kazan's direction are both sincere. A few terrific moments: Natalie trying to drown herself in the river; Natalie breaking down in the classroom (both scenes utilize Wood's vulnerability to her advantage); Sandy Dennis popping up in a supporting bit; and Zohra Lampert's brief but intriguing work as a new lady in Warren's life. *** from ****
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It would be a simpler life, if we could pick our parents.
TxMike2 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
In this classic, Natalie Wood, 22, stars as pretty and popular Wilma Dean 'Deanie' Loomis who is dating Bud Stamper (Warren Beatty, 23, in his first film role), handsome high school star athlete and son of a rich oil man. Pat Hingle has perhaps the best performance here as Bud's controlling dad, 'Ace' Stamper. Ace has definite ideas about what Bud should do, who he should date, and where he should go to college (Yale). At one point he tells Bud, "There's nothing I wouldn't do for you, son, IF you do right." Which translates to "if you do what I think you should do." Ace Stamper is responsible for the direction the lives of these two young sweethearts take, and not all turns out as they would like for it. Heavily melodramatic, it probably accurately reflects attitudes and roles in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Good movie, spans about 4 years of the characters' lives. The title is taken from a Wordsworth poem, which relates to "splendor in the grass" as a child which cannot be retrieved when we are grown, but instead we must make a life with what we have left.

SPOILERS FOLLOW. The movie opens in S.E. Kansas in 1928, the sweethearts are necking in the convertible near the local water fall, we hear her say "Don't Bud, you mustn't", as he begins to get fresh. "I better take you home", and as she enters her home, we see no colors inside, only browns and some white, certainly reflecting what was going on inside her emotions. She has been brought up by a very old-fashioned mother who explained her own sex outlook, "I just gave in because I had to. A wife doesn't enjoy those things like a man does. She lets the husband get close just to have children." Mom says, "That's a relief", after Deanie assures her she hasn't gone "too far" with Bud. Deanie was unlucky in the mother she had.

On the other side, Bud's dad cautions him, "If anything happens, you'd have to marry her." Ace has already alienated Bud's older sister, and had to work out an abortion and annul a marriage of hers. He has strong opinions, never truly listens to anyone else, and needs to control everything. It is he who talks Bud into quitting seeing Deanie, who ends up being sent to the state mental health hospital after she is fished out of the reservoir apparently trying to go over the falls. She ends up staying there about 2 and one half years.

Bud ends up going to Yale but his heart isn't in it, he basically is flunking everything when his dad comes for a visit. Then Ace gets a call, the stock market crash is beginning. Ace hears about some men in New York jumping out of windows and comments, "Things have got to get back to normal in a couple of days." However they don't, Ace loses his fortune too, and become one of the "jumpers." When Deanie is released from the hospital and goes home, she wonders where Bud is. her dad tells her that he is back at the old place, she goes to him, finds that he is married, with a young son and another on the way. He married Angelina, the pizza waitress from college, and he was doing what he wanted to do all along, ranching. The "splendor in the grass" of their youth had passed, now they must make lives of what remains and make happiness in it. They were not able to choose who their parents were.
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A sad, memorable and affecting romantic drama .....
PimpinAinttEasy22 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Dear Elia Kazan,

here are a few random and rambling thoughts on your film. Splendor in the Grass was mainly an intense and adult romantic drama about the love between two teenagers from different classes of American society. It also told the social history of America what with the stock market crash and the prohibition forming an important part of the film. The film reflects the attitudes of American society towards women in the 1920's. John Huston said that "Half of directing is casting the right actors". Well, you couldn't have asked for a better lead pair than Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty. Wood was in full bloom in this film as a lower class girl who is eager to please her upper class boyfriend while being intensely aware of society's reactions to her love affair. Beatty was intense and dreamy as an upper class boy who is struggling with his father's expectations that are in direct conflict with his own aspirations. William Inge writes many beautiful scenes - the best being the one in the classroom when a sad and distracted Natalie Wood (after being dumped by Beatty) is pulled up by her teacher for not being able to explain the meaning of a poem. It is a heartbreaking scene as Natalie struggles to hide her despair and actually comes up with an interesting explanation. I am usually not a fan of romantic dramas but this one was sad, memorable and affecting.

Best Regards, Pimpin.

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Pure emotion, pure electricity. See it if you dare!
vitaleralphlouis5 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
We saw Splendor in the Grass at an advance preview at the Warner in Washington, DC in 1961; and it was the most emotional and most physically draining pictures I'd ever seen.

Audiences generally like their love stories fast and easy, but in Splendor we get a dose of the real thing. Serious love is almost too hot to handle, and in some cases it can wreck or destroy your life. It's no big secret today that the author was a man who told his own story except he reversed the sexes of the two characters and re-set the story into his parents' era. And he was a suicide victim.

The emotional surge permeates the entire movie but reaches its peak in the infamous bathtub scene, where the Natalie Wood character simply cracks to pieces. This is where shallow people ought take a break for the rest room or popcorn and leave the movie for the grown-ups.

I can't say enough good about this film. Another powerhouse from Elia Kazan. The movie changed my life.
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"Is it so terrible to have those feelings about a boy?!"
elvircorhodzic29 April 2017
SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS is a romantic drama about a teenage love, passion, temptation, suffering and acceptance.

A beautiful and modest teenage girl, who lives with her parents in Kansas, follows her mother's advice to resist her desire for sex with her boyfriend. He is the son of one of the most prosperous families in their town. They are very nervous and impatient. A young man, reluctantly, follows the advice of his father, who suggests that he find another kind of girl with whom to satisfy his desires. His older sister, who loves a hedonistic lifestyle, is sexually promiscuous. His parents are ashamed of her. A love couple is exposed to constant emotional pressure. He has accepted his father's advice. She, slowly, starts to lose her mind...

An economic depression, a parental domination and a conflict between traditional and modern ways of life are thematic segments analyzed in this story. It is interesting that love and passion very quickly turn into an obsession. The love affair between two young people is full of temptations and mutual suffering. A harsh social drama, which is quite explicit, is „dovetailed" between the material and spiritual crisis. That is a time, in which emotions are unpleasant but very sincere. Sexual frustrations, or sexual riots are, in this case, are a reflection of the isolation of a society. These teenage lives are quite sensitive to any sudden change.

Characterization is very good.

Natalie Wood as Wilma Dean "Deanie" Loomis has shown strong form of an emotional stress, which is caused by violent passions, sexual desire, traditional environment and personal depression. The innocence in her eyes and a little embarrassed smile on her face have further enhance that effect. Ms. Wood is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful actress of all time. Warren Beatty as Bud Stamper has offered a very decent performance. A little bit rebellious son, who has tried to escape from his father's lap. His character is somewhat pathetic. His emotional exhaustion and impatience have closed a door of his happiness.

However, he has, in the end, stayed in the traditional environment, while Deanie has made an uncertain, but a decisive step into the world.

Their support are Pat Hingle (Ace Stamper) as an unreasonable father, who inexorably separates his son from his happiness and Audrey Christie as Mrs. Loomis as a soft-spoken mother, who has built a „prison cell" around her daughter.

Mr. Kazan has very well described this social disorder, in which, missed opportunities and youthful fears have eliminated every crumb of optimism.
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Rebel without a cause
SnoopyStyle9 November 2014
It's 1928 Kansas. Wilma 'Deanie' Loomis (Natalie Wood) tries to resist her amorous boyfriend Bud Stamper (Warren Beatty). He is the son of a powerful oilman Ace (Pat Hingle). His older sister Ginny (Barbara Loden) is a wild party girl angry at his father who returns from Chicago under a cloud of rumors. Bud is the star jock but not a very good student. He doesn't want to go to Yale but marry Deanie. His father tells him to take out the steam with another kind of girl. Juanita Howard (Jan Norris) is the rumored sexually promiscuous girl in school. Bud breaks up with Deanie under the pressure and has a fling with Juanita. Deanie breaks down and tries to act up.

The bathtub scene is terrific. It reminds me of James Dean in 'Rebel Without a Cause (55)'. It is basically the female version with Natalie Wood trying to break out of the social conventions appealing to parents who just don't understand. It is as effective 6 years later with the theme of sexual liberation. Natalie Wood is amazing with great work from Beatty and Hingle. The movie does keep going with the story and it ends poetically.
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halfway between "A Summer Place" and "The Graduate"
lee_eisenberg30 August 2019
I first heard of Elia Kazan's "Splendor in the Grass" probably when I was about eleven but never got around to seeing it until now. Seeing that it was by William Inge, I had assumed that it was based on a play, but it turns out that the movie is an original story. And what a story! This look at a teenage romance in 1920s Kansas must've been a real shocker when it got released (and not just because of that one scene of Natalie Wood).

What I interpreted is that the movie has essentially the same idea as "A Summer Place" and "The Graduate". That is, when people from the younger generation are in a relationship, it simply won't be the sort of relationship of which the older generation approves (specifically, the other two showed the hypocrisy of the parents' generation). 'Twas always thus.

And that poem by Wordsworth that inspired the title. It confirms that some things will naturally pass and we have no choice but to accept this. Or sometimes it's not so natural: we see the Roaring Twenties give way to the Great Depression.

The movie is partly famous as Warren Beatty's debut, but in my opinion, Natalie Wood totally owns the movie. Here her glamor isn't just about her being pretty, but shows her maturation. With this role she fully graduated to the more serious roles for which she was best known during the last two decades of her life.

Also appearing are Pat Hingle (Commissioner Gordon in the 1989-97 Batman movies), Barbara Loden (later Kazan's wife), Sandy Dennis, Phyllis Diller and Gary Lockwood (Poole in "2001: A Space Odyssey").
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