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Splendor in the Grass (1962)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 1
Fresh: 0 | Rotten: 1



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Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 8,246

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Movie Info

1961's premiere "date" movie represented the screen debut of Warren Beatty. Set in the 1920s, William Inge's screenplay concerns the superheated romance between working-class high schooler Natalie Wood and rich kid Beatty. Trying their best to keep their relationship from going "all the way," Beatty and Wood go through a series of unsatisfying interim romances. The troubled Wood attempts suicide and is sent to a mental institution, while Beatty impregnates freewheeling waitress Zohra Lampert.


Drama, Romance, Classics

William Inge

Feb 15, 2000

Warner Home Video

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All Critics (16) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (2) | DVD (10)

A complicated film that never really successfully yokes together the themes of money-making and sexuality, it reveals both Kazan's operatic sensibility and his inability to follow an argument rigorously through.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This romantic sudser is darker than those of its day, as it shockingly deals with matters Hollywood had previously kept under wraps.

June 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A smug sneer toward all the squares.

March 27, 2010 Full Review Source:

Splendor in the Grass is a prestigious, top-of-the-line, sensitively-handled melodramatic literalization of the axiom "If you touch yourself too much, you'll go crazy."

March 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Youth exploitation pictures were all the rage at the time, and while this is better than some in execution and intent, it's still exactly that.

November 1, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

One of Kazan's two or three mastrpieces, this powerful small-town film examines growing pains, respressed sexuality, and social hypocrisy, featuring Warren Beatty, in an astonishing screen debut, and Natalie Wood, at their very best.

January 31, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

a sometimes-devastating portrait of youth culture on the brink

July 12, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

Probably Wood's finest hour

January 23, 2003
Kalamazoo Gazette

Watchable but not great.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Splendor in the Grass (1961) is another of director Elia Kazan's dramatic, hyperbolic films with daring and controversial content for its times - sexual repression

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films
Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films

Audience Reviews for Splendor in the Grass

A "big" Hollywood movie in its day, represented by dint of extravagant color, large, swelling musical scores, and turgid acting about an "important" issue of the day, in this case: young lust. This can't turn out well and it doesn't (Hollywood was doing all it could to defeat television in those days), but along the way we get Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty in their youthful heyday, a decent script by William Inge, and fine character work by the supporting cast.
May 3, 2012

Super Reviewer

The definitive bucket of cold water movie about the hormones that swept America. Warren Beatty finds his Stanley Kowalski and Natalie Wood gives one of the essential female performances in American film.
November 4, 2011
Matheus Carvalho

Super Reviewer

A very well acted film that just ins't my cup of tea.
August 4, 2011

Super Reviewer

If there is a heaven, it simply must involve being loved by Natalie Wood. I have only seen Rebel Without a Cause, but after this incredible, emotionally riveting performance, there are certainly more of her films added to my queue. In addition to possessing the physical beauty that we simply don't celebrate anymore, she embodies this character with raw intensity, recognizing the complexities and themes of the story. In this performance, she is "actor as character" and "actor as storyteller" - an oft-overlooked combination.
The story, penned by William Inge, is part morality tale, part universal truth. The film reverses the typical dictates about pre-marital sex and suggests that the constant pressures of being "untainted," "pure," "unspoiled," and "a nice girl" cause more moral degradation than they prevent. Additionally, the characters all see women as fitting into two distinct categories: they are either whores or wife material, a condition which is explained starkly by Mrs. Loomis: "A woman doesn't enjoy those things the way a man does. She just lets her husband come near her in order to have children." As a result of such sexual repression and categorical thinking, the film shows the inevitable descent of two good people. But their descent is marked both by the effects of their environment and by the simple fact that adulthood always disappoints the idealism of youth, a theme the title of the film evokes.
The film has two very minor flaws. First, I thought the under-handed images of sexuality were over-used; how many times do I have to look at a waterfall? I understand the censorship of the time, but Kazan could have added a train going through a tunnel just for variation's sake. Second, Beatty seems to betray some inexperience here and there, unsure when to play subtlety and when to release.
Overall, Natalie Wood makes this film a sheer joy to watch, and as long as men continue to tell women what is valued about their bodies and their sexuality, the themes in this film will remain relevant.
January 19, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Splendor in the Grass (1961) (DE)
  • Splendor in the Grass (UK)
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