Splendor In The Grass (1961) Blind Spot Review

Splendor In The Grass (1961)

Directed by Elia Kazan

Starring: Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle, Audrey Christie, Barbara Loden, Zohra Lampert, Fred Stewart, Joanna Roos, John McGovern, Jan Norris, Martine Bartlett, Gary Lockwood, Sandy Dennis, Crystal Field, Marla Adams, Lynn Loring, Phyllis Diller, Sean Garrison

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A fragile Kansas girl’s love for a handsome young man from the town’s most powerful family drives her to heartbreak and madness.

My Opinion:

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I managed to watch this year, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Metropolis
2. Splendor In The Grass
1. Enter The Dragon

Splendor In The Grass was going to be a 2019 Blind Spot choice but it was on TV so I decided to take the opportunity to watch it this year instead. I’m glad I did. I loved it. In ranking these above, I kept changing the order around between this & Metropolis but, while Metropolis is the better and more iconic film, Splendor In The Grass is the one I enjoyed more. It’s quite a girly film for me but I love a devastating, heartbreaking love story. Love should be painful! And god I love some good sexual tension in movies. It was palpable in this. It reminded me a bit of Brief Encounter. So much sexual frustration!

A big reason I wanted to see this was because I wanted to explore more of Natalie Wood’s films. She’s fantastic in this and entirely to thank for this film being so raw and emotional. She makes this movie the classic that it is. Warren Beatty is fine (this was his very first movie role) and they had good chemistry but I think his and all the other roles in this movie could’ve easily been filled by other actors and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Natalie Wood is the true star here and your heart breaks for her and you seriously want these two to rip each other’s clothes off and just have some damn fun. She was so lovely. I mean, look how lovely she is in this mustard top. Who the hell looks good in mustard?!

I suppose there’s also the real-life mysterious drowning of Natalie Wood which now makes the film feel even more tragic. In her despair & heartbreak, her character tries to drown herself and it’s widely known now that she had a terrible fear of water and was dreading doing that scene. This is from IMDb trivia:

“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.”

This is one of those films that wouldn’t necessarily be loved by everyone nowadays. I think it depends on if you can watch an older film (this was made in 1961 but set in 1928) and judge it by the standards of its time and when it was set. I see too many people judge older movies based on today’s ideals & morals and it always annoys me. Times change and people change. This movie has very outdated ideas on sex and the roles of men & women but that’s just the way things were. Wood’s character is a “good girl” and expected to stay that way while Beatty’s character is frustrated by his desire to have sex with her but also knowing he can’t “spoil” her so is actually encouraged to have sex with someone else instead. Beatty’s character is quite an asshole, by today’s standards especially, and there are times when the men in this act in ways that aren’t tolerated anymore (as with Beatty’s sister, who is considered an embarrassment to the family as she’s very promiscuous).

As I said, though, it’s Wood’s heartbreaking performance that made this movie such an emotional experience plus I’m always a sucker for tragic romance over a traditional “and they lived happily ever after” fairytale. Give me pain & tragedy! It feels more real. If that’s your type of thing, I think you may enjoy this film and I’d certainly recommend it if you want to see Wood at her best. I loved this movie and it’s probably one of my favorite Blind Spot choices in the three years I’ve been doing the Blind Spot Project.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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Paths Of Glory & On The Waterfront IMDB Top 250 Reviews

These are my final two IMDB Top 250 Project movies I’ve watched but not yet reviewed (not counting the Clint Eastwood or the Akira Kurosawa films, which I plan to review all together). So from now on I’ll only be reviewing movies for this project on the occasional Tuesday as I happen watch more of them. My Tuesdays are now free! What the heck am I going to post weekly instead of these Top 250 reviews?!? Hmm. Most likely, nothing. I like the idea of a blog-free weekday!

I’ve put off “reviewing” these two as I don’t have much to say about them. They didn’t connect with me like so many of the films that I’ve watched for this project have. I understand why they’re classics & agree that they do deserve to be in the Top 250, though, despite them not working for me. Hey – we can’t all love the same movies! What a boring world this would be if that was the case.

So I’m going to say a very small bit about each film now just to get them off my list. Here you go: Two short paragraphs each for two all-time classics I’m clearly not cultured enough to have fully appreciated! 😉

Paths Of Glory (1957)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Based on Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Richard Anderson

Plot Synopsis:
Set during World War I, the film stars Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax, the commanding officer of French soldiers who refuse to continue a suicidal attack. Dax attempts to defend them against a charge of cowardice in a court-martial.

My Two Paragraph Opinion:

Wow – I, um, believe this is the only Kirk Douglas movie I’ve ever seen. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t watching Michael Douglas as they’re so similar (I suck). At least I’ve added another Stanley Kubrick to my list of movies seen (I’ve ranked his films HERE – I need to add in Full Metal Jacket at five while Paths Of Glory would be at six).

I preferred Paths Of Glory to On The Waterfront. The pacing was pretty slow so I’ll fully admit that my uncultured, non-war-movie-loving mind wandered quite often but it did have an overall story that I found far more compelling than that in On The Waterfront. I won’t give away the full story for those who know nothing about this but it’s something that should have moved me a bit more than it did. I think that, perhaps, they didn’t spend enough time developing a few characters who really deserved to have more time spent on them. I’ll say that Douglas was great in this so, yes, I really should watch at least one other movie he’s been in. The novel was based on a true story & this practice (what happens in the film) was done during World War I from what I can tell of the very little I read of this movie at Wikipedia (war experts can feel free to chime in on this). I don’t know how often this tactic was used but it’s truly appalling & the movie did finally have my full attention at the end. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue what the outcome would be – I don’t know how I managed to avoid such a huge movie spoiler for all these years. Paths Of Glory is a film deserving of all its praise with great performances & a very important topic that needed to be brought to light (apparently this movie was fairly controversial at the time as it’s a pretty anti-war film). It’s just not my type of thing but I’d certainly not disagree with anyone who says they love it as I can see it being a favorite film for some people. For all lovers of war movies, it’s a must-see.

My Rating: 7/10

On The Waterfront (1954)

Directed by Elia Kazan

Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint

Music by Leonard BernsteinIt’s the end of the world as we know it! (And I feel fine)

Running time: 108 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

My Two Paragraph Opinion:

I watched this movie on September 9th, 2014. It’s taken me almost two years to muster up the (strength? courage??) to do a little write-up for it. I remember sticking this movie on & kind of half-watching it while doing some housework then finishing it later while in bed. This is when we were working on painting a wall in the bedroom so a big cabinet was in the middle of the room & partially blocking my view of the TV from the bed. So, yeah… this is how I watched On The Waterfront – a huge Oscar-winning, beloved classic. What can I say? I have no class. I’m a bum!

Umm. Unions? Mobs? I think I remember some pigeons. Marlon Brando! He’s in this. I haven’t watched a lot of Brando’s films (but at least I’ve watched more Brando films than Kirk Douglas films). Let’s see: I’ve seen this, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and Superman. That’s it. I’m not a fan. Should I delete my blog? Will some big Brando fan come along to yell at me & tell me that my blog should be “taken down” like the Western-loving guy who commented on my review of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance? As much as I’ve moaned about having to watch all the war movies & Westerns in the Top 250, I’ve ended up really liking the ones I’ve watched so far (some are even favorites now, like The Bridge On The River Kwai & The Good, The Bad And The Ugly). So maybe I can’t keep saying they’re “not my type of thing”? The story in On The Waterfront, however, is what I think really isn’t my type of thing. It didn’t connect. I’ve never really gone for movies involving the mob in some way or for this type of drama. When it comes to older films, I prefer the “grand epics” to the types of films involving true-to-life human conflict with Oscar-worthy performances and lots of talking & drama. I find something like a Morricone score coupled with beautiful cinematography far more moving than an intense performance from an actor/actress. That’s just me – we’re all moved by different things & I’m not one to care too much about the “acting” in a movie (as long as the performances don’t totally suck). Brando is great in this, yeah. I didn’t follow the story very well or really find myself caring about any of the characters. I don’t remember it much now but that’s to be expected, I suppose, when you are only partially paying attention to a movie while it’s on. On The Waterfront won loads of Oscars (best picture, director, actor, supporting actress, screenplay, cinematography, art direction & film editing). Oh shit… That’s really a lot of Oscars. I’m going to delete my blog. I coulda had class! I coulda been a contender! I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it! *blog deleted* (Let’s go ahead & give this the same rating as Paths Of Glory, although I preferred that one. I’m sorry! Don’t hurt my pigeons!)

My Rating: 7/10

**If you can’t bear to see nothing posted on this blog on a Tuesday, here are the remaining films available for guest reviews:

Cool Hand Luke 1967
The Wrestler 2008
The Graduate 1967
The Lives of Others 2006
The Sting 1973
Die Hard 1988
Léon 1994
The Hobbit 2012
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
Rain Man 1988
Taxi Driver 1976
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
Before Sunrise 1995
Before Sunset 2004
Life Is Beautiful 1997

**Selected for now**
Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels 1998 (Tom)
To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 (Tom)
Gone with the Wind 1939 (dbmoviesblog)
2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 (Drew)