Saturday, July 9, 2022

#2,781. Inside Daisy Clover (1965) - Natalie Wood 4-Pack


Hollywood is front and center in director Robert Mulligan’s 1965 film Inside Daisy Clover, a movie that takes more than a bit of the shine off of Tinseltown.

Daisy Clover (Natalie Wood) is a 15-year-old tomboy who lives in a beachfront trailer park with her loopy yet charismatic mother (Ruth Gordon). But Daisy has a particular talent that might very well take her places: she can sing. In fact, she sent one of her recordings off to Hollywood producer Raymond Swan (Christopher Plummer), who was so impressed that he offered Daisy a 5-year contract, promising to transform her into a movie star.

Far from making her dreams come true, however, Daisy’s newfound success causes nothing but trouble. First, her estranged sister Gloria (Betty Harford), anxious to become Daisy’s legal guardian (and thus benefit from her newfound popularity) has their mother committed to an asylum, while Swan and his assistant Walter Baines (Roddy McDowall) create an entirely new - and incredibly fictitious – backstory for their newest protégé.

Then fate throws a monkey wrench into the works in the form of handsome movie star Wade Lewis (Robert Redford), who sweeps young Daisy off her feet and even marries her. It’s at this point that Daisy’s “career” begins to unravel, and the once-precocious teenager finds herself dealing with issues and emotions that she’s ill-equipped to handle.

The cast assembled for Inside Daisy Clover is as impressive as they come. Redford, in an early screen role, plays the romantic cad quite well, and there’s even a few hints dropped that his character is bisexual (certainly a hot-button topic for 1965, yet the film handles it tastefully enough). Redford won a Golden Globe (Most Promising Newcomer) for his performance in Inside Daisy Clover, as did Ruth Gordon (Best Supporting Actress), whose humorous and occasionally tragic turn as Daisy’s mother also netted her an Academy Award nomination. Both awards were well-deserved, but equally as good is Christopher Plummer as Raymond Swan, the heartless producer whose only concern is the bottom line; and Katharine Bard as Shaw’s wife Melora, a woman whose carefree attitude and cheery optimism masks a heartbreak of her own.

And then there’s Natalie Wood, who perfectly captures every nuance of her inexperienced character, from the tough, no-nonsense young lady who takes care of her mother to the starlet, whose joy of being “discovered’ slowly dissolves as the harsh realities of being “owned” by a studio drain her of her ambition. Daisy Clover is forced to grow up quickly once fame and fortune come knocking, and Wood wonderfully conveys every aspect of her character’s changing personality (elated, confused, smitten, even depressed).

In addition, there are a few musical numbers scattered throughout Inside Daisy Clover, and the film is crisply directed by Mulligan, who keeps things moving along at a nice pace. And while I would have liked to see them spend a little more time on Daisy’s initial entry into the Hollywood elite (her transition from a rough-around-the-edges kid to a refined, perfectly coached actress seems to happen overnight), Inside Daisy Clover proved a pleasant surprise.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

No comments: