Sunday, 17 November 2013

SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS (1961) WEB SITE

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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 affair 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.

  • Production Credits

  • Director - Elia Kazan
  • Screenplay - William Inge
  • From Story - William Inge
  • Producer - Elia Kazan
  • Associate Producer - William Inge
  • Associate Producer - Charles H. Maguire
  • Assistant Director - Don Kranze
  • Assistant Director - Ulu Grosbard
  • Script Supervisor - Marguerite James
  • Continuity - Marguerite James

Cats Credits

  • Natalie Wood - Wilma Dean Loomis--Deanie
  • Warren Beatty - Bud Stamper
  • Pat Hingle - Ace Stamper
  • Audrey Christie - Mrs Loomis
  • Barbara Loden - Ginny Stamper
  • Zohra Lampert - Angelina
  • Fred Stewart - Del Loomis
  • Joanna Roos - Mrs Stamper
  • Jan Norris - Juanita Howard
  • Gary Lockwood - Toots
  • Sandy Dennis - Kay
  • Crystal Field - Hazel
  • Marla Adams - June
  • Lynn Loring - Carolyn
  • John McGovern - Doc Smiley
  • Martine Bartlett - Miss Metcalf
  • Sean Garrison - Glenn
  • William Inge - Reverend Whiteman
  • Charles Robinson - Johnny Masterson
  • Phyllis Diller - Texas Guinan

Awards

Win
  • Best Original Screenplay - William Inge - 1961 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Nomination
  • Best Director - Elia Kazan - 1961 Directors Guild of America
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Warren Beatty - 1961 Hollywood Foreign Press Association
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama - Natalie [act] Wood - 1961 Hollywood Foreign Press Association
  • Best Picture - Drama - 1961 Hollywood Foreign Press Association
  • Best Actress - Natalie Wood - 1961 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences



CRITICA EN EL PERIODICO "LA VANGUARDIA" (27-12-1962)
El argumentista de "Esplendor en la yerba" William Inge es uno de los más significados cautivadores del neorrealismo norteamericano. Con Miller y con Tennessee Williams constituye una especie de terrible trinidad de la literatura tremendista de su país. Algunas de sus obras han sido llevadas con enorme éxito al celuloide tales como "Bus Stop" y "Picnic". Al pasar al cine las obras de Inge suelen ser despojadas de sus aristas más hirientes, lo que probablemente ha debido ocurrir también con este argumento, escrito por su autor directamente para la pantalla. Pero continúa siendo, a pesar de todo una historia ácida y fuerte con personajes retorcidos y claramente desalentadores, aunque posiblemente lógico y realista. En el film, Inge entrelaza las vivencias de dos familias de Kansas, que siendo del mismo origen popular, gozan de situaciones económicas diferentes. El rico tiene dos vástagos: un varón en quien cifra todas sus ilusiones, y una fémina ligera de cascos, alcoholizada y cínica. El otro matrimonio sólo tiene una hija, muchacha bonita y seductora. El hijo del rico se enamora de la chica modesta. Este amor seria en la pluma de cualquier otro escritor, un drama pasional o un idilio romántico. En manos de William Inge se trans forma en una madeja complicada de sorprendentes derivaciones y de situaciones angustiosas. Sucede que el temor a llevar demasiado lejos su pasión, hace al galán tan circunspecto temeroso y huidizo que la pobre muchacha enamorada tiene que pasar por culpa suya dos años en una clínica psiquiátrica. A su temperamento pasional se le hace incompresible la fuga a lo casto José, de quien se mostrara hasta entonces tan ardientemente enamorado. Por su misma complejidad y por los estados morbosos que emergen de la historia, la película de un gran interés y no obstante, el final melancólico e inesperado alcanza una fuerte tensión emocional. El personaje llamado "Bud" es una típica figura del neorrealismo a la americana: un ser predestinado a la frustración de su existencia, y a forjar, inconscientemente, el infortunio de los demás. La película tiene un buen estilo y el vigor narrativo de su realizador, el maestro Elia Kazan. Pero no del Kazan de "Río Salvaje" inexpresivo y vago, sino del magnifico director de "La ley del Silencio" y "Al este del Edén". Natalie Wood reafirma lo excepcional de su temperamento artístico y la admirable lucidez de su talento. La figura de "Deanie" exigía una variedad de matices y una intuición dramática sólo susceptible de ser dados por una gran actriz. Sorprende que Natalie Wood, tan joven -solo tiene 22 años- haya podido penetrar su hondura y enriquecedor el personaje con una gama de expresiones tan hondamente humanas. La frase "esplendor en la yerba" que da titulo al film, procede de un poema de Wodswoth, que responde a la ambición de simbolizar paradójicamente la situación dramática que se crea el la pantalla. Cuando acaba la historia. para la pobre "Deanie" el esplendor primaveral, el verdor de sus ilusiones mas queridas es solo un recuerdo marchito y melancólico. El protagonista masculino, Warren Beatty, es hermano de Shirley MacLaine. Su labor de una gran vibración, apunta atisbos de la calidad artística que corresponde a la familia. Empezó su labor menos convincente que la de su extraordinaria partenaire.-A. MARTÍNEZ TOMAS.





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