Daisy Clover is a 15 year old Tomboy who dreams of being a Hollywood star. After auditioning for producer Raymond Swan of Swan studios she becomes the toast of Hollywood. Daisy must then come to terms with her new found fame and the 1930's Hollywood star treatment. —Kelly
No place for normal people
The opening chords tell us we're in Tennessee Williams territory here. Sure enough all the Williams-type elements begin to pan out. Dark undercurrents of insanity, homosexuality, greed, deceit, manipulation beneath a polished veneer: here it's the cynical 1930s Hollywood production system that cuts everyone in two - their natural selves and their professional front. To survive, they resort to callousness, booze, or else fall back on their inner demons. Natalie Wood is the neurotic teenage star of the title (shades of Judy Garland) signing away her soul and her sanity to Mephisophelian studio boss Christopher Plummer. Hollywood is surreal here, the sun-baked Warners lot eerily empty - as soon as Daisy sets foot in the place, disorientation, internal conflict and depression results. This is written by gay British writer Gavin Lambert, lover of Nicholas Ray and Paul Bowles, though the sexuality - particularly Robert Redford's gay character - is fudged as expected. Roddy Macdowell is entertaining as the producer's hostile personal assistant - another obviously closeted character - whose every word to Daisy contains a veiled insult. Wood is bizarrely gamine under a distracting gray-streaked wig. At 28 she was too old to pass for 15 and, in trying to behave like a petulant child, becomes too mannered as a result. To the screenplay's immense credit though, she says less as film goes on - especially after her breakdown, shown silently in a sound recording booth - an extremely impressive and powerful scene. Wood was friends with Lambert and asked for the role, and while she is painfully in tune with Daisy's slightly schizoid behaviour - which includes a prolonged and farcical suicide attempt - it's a pity she can't sing (she is voiced here by Jackie Ward). 20-year old Liza Minnelli might have been a more natural choice. It's a curious, quirky film, often too stylised for it's own good but is buoyed up by psychological undercurrents - and the suspicion that Hollywood may really have been like this.
- Oct 26, 2009
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