Inside Daisy Clover Reviews
The darkly entertaining "Inside Daisy Clover" is a critical deconstruction of Hollywood that sits on the edge between old and new and made at a time when the studio system was crumbling once and for all. The technicolor musical numbers are resplendent, just as the movie dwells on the human cost of becoming a star where Daisy must perform not only on the screen but off too. At the heart of it all is a massive public relations campaign to soften the edges of Daisy into a desexualized gamine ripe for public consumption in movies to distract the public from the Great Depression, at the same time she has a sexual affair with an older man that is statutory rape.(I actually prefer the old system in the way information was controlled. Right now, I know too many personal details of people I could care less about in movies I will never see.) What Daisy loses in the bargain is her freedom and it is telling that she is happy only when barefoot, in a sort of reverse Cinderella fable. The main problem is that Natalie Wood is unconvincing playing a teenager which is ironic since she was a child star at one time, as was Roddy McDowall. Her co-star, Robert Redford, on the edge of his own personal stardom, gives a very loose performance and the next time viewers would see any gaps in his armor would be in of all movies, "Spy Game."
Natalie Wood is so underrated & forgotten, but what a great & beautiful talent she was.This Movie is Fun yet Poignant with a GREATTTTTT ending.
It starred Robert Redford, Natalie Wood and Christopher Plummer. The story is about a fifteen year-old waif from the wrong side of the tracks (in this instance, a run-down Southern California wharf/fun house/carnival type of place). She makes a record of herself singing and sends it to a big Hollywood film company. The owner of Swan Productions is intrigued, supposedly by her "talent" and decides to groom her for stardom. While that's happening, big movie star Wade Lewis (Robert Redford) sweeps her off her feet and proposes marriage. She, of course, is totally overwhelmed. They marry and start on their honeymoon, but stop at a run-down adobe motel in the desert for the night. When she wakes up in the morning, Redford is gone, having abandoned her. She returns to Hollywood and continues with her training, being completely controlled and manipulated and groomed for stardom by the big mogul, played by a very dapper, sinister and domineering Christopher Plummer.
Now, the interesting thing about this movie is that all of the above-the unfolding of the plot-just happens, with little emotion or fanfare, leaving the viewer to try to guess the motives and feelings of all the characters. You could say, in a sense, that all of the "action" takes place as subtext. We have to guess what the plans and schemes and motivations are, because there is little conflict or drama to convey it to us overtly. What does the mogul really want for Daisy? Is he a sneaky Machiavelli or does he really want to do good for her? Why did her new husband abandon her in the motel? Did he have a good reason? Was he motivated to help her in some unknown way, or is he just a cad? Why didn't the studio head try to stop the obviously inappropriate marriage between an adult Redford and a (at most) sixteen year-old budding star, running the risk of ruining both of their futures and reputations? I won't answer these questions in case you might want to see the movie sometime.
This movie was beautifully produced, directed and paced. Natalie Wood was not quite up to the demands of her role, but the rest of the cast was excellent (including an Academy Award for Ruth Gordon). One might easily take this unfolding plot at face value if it weren't for some disturbing aspects to the goings-on. The production was curiously adorned with the atmosphere of a horror movie, with many "noirish," drawn-out scenes to keep the audience restless and in anticipation even when the plot itself-what was actually happening on screen-didn't seem to raise any red flags. And even more curiously, one scene was actually punctuated by the now infamous screeching sounds immortalized in the murder scene in "Psycho." Did Mulligan steal this from Hitchcock?
If this movie wasn't so well paced, one would be tempted to pick on the various credulity gaps in the script. The main problem is that during Daisy's training we are subjected to two or three complete musical productions with Daisy singing and dancing (yes, the film was a strange sort of "musical.") These performances exposed Natalie Wood (assuming the voice was hers and not dubbed) as a barely adequate song-and-dance girl, and raises the question of how the Big Producer in the movie was so impressed by her marginal talent as to decide to take her on. Setting aside the unlikely Cinderella aspect of her "discovery," how would anyone have been impressed by that voice? Many movies of the '40s and '50 tended to tell the audience what to think about the characters and their abilities in cases where those talents were not convincingly demonstrable-stars making like they are playing a musical instrument when they obviously couldn't; or preposterously miscast roles played by ingenue types trying to appear as professors, businessmen or statesmen, but without the gravitas to be at all convincing-and not even to mention that Hollywood didn't learn how to make fights look real until at least the early '60s. "Daisy" was thought by some to be ahead of its time, and that's true in the sense that it what didn't work then, seems to work much better now.