Natalie Wood Collection (DVD)
SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty are young lovers ripped apart by the repressive small-town mentality of 1920's Kansas. SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL Helen Gurley Brown's book shoved aside, title used to exploit fairly amusing tale of smut-magazine editor, Tony Curtis wooing notorious female psychologist, Natalie Wood. INSIDE DAISY CLOVER Daisy Clover is a 15 year old Tomboy who dreams of being a Hollywood star - and succeeds! After becoming the toast of Hollywood, Daisy must then come to terms with her new found fame and the 1930's Hollywood star treatment. GYPSY (Deluxe Edition) Everything comes up roses when you let Rosalind Russell, Natalie Wood and Karl Malden entertain you in the lavish movie musical of the Broadway hit about Gypsy Rose Lee and her formidable mother. BOMBERS B-52 A love story between army pilot Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. and Natalie Wood, despite the objections of Ms. Wood's sergeant father. Riveting aerial footage of jet plane maneuvers. CASH MCCALL James Garner is a capitalist in the grip of merger mania, and Natalie Wood is the woman he wants and the daughter of the man whose company he seeks to acquire.
The inclusion of the inside-Hollywood exposé Inside Daisy Clover in this boxed set underscores the somewhat melancholy legacy of a once-bright star, Natalie Wood, who always seemed just a bit overwhelmed by the manufactured nature of cinematic success. The Natalie Wood Collection groups six pictures from the middle phase of Wood's career, when she was one of the biggest female stars in the movies. The earliest film, Bombers B-52, is from the ingénue stage, with Wood cast as the daughter of meat-and-potatoes military lifer Karl Malden, and romanced by supposedly dashing (but fatally wooden) flyboy Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Smoothly directed by Gordon Douglas, the movie's got some fine footage of airplanes, if it lacks excitement in other aspects. Cash McCall (1959) is an oddball time capsule, with James Garner as a Donald Trump-like business buccaneer and Wood as the woman who doesn't want to love him. The plotline is a stupefying tale of corporate intrigue, but the supporting cast is flavorful. Wood turned a corner with her Oscar-nominated role in Splendor in the Grass (1961), Elia Kazan's classic about an ill-fated 1920s love story between fragile Wood and small-town prince Warren Beatty (his first big-screen role). The real-life affair between the two stars fuels the tangible passion of the movie, which has one of the most affecting final reels of this era. Gypsy (1962) is on everybody's shortlist of greatest Broadway musicals (songs by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim), and the movie version doesn't disappoint. Wood, rarely more gorgeous, plays the vaudeville child trouper who would grow up to be the legendary stripper Gypsy Rose Lee; Rosalind Russell is her monstrous stage mother. Sex and the Single Girl (1964) borrows its title from the best-selling Helen Gurley Brown advice book. The movie is a vintage (practically antique) Sixties sex farce, with Tony Curtis as a writer for a dirty magazine who wants to discredit a prominent psychologist and expert on sex (that's Natalie). Director Richard Quine uncorks some amusing sight gags, and Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall add class, but the movie leans too much on leering. Finally, Inside Daisy Clover (1966) is a jaundiced tale of a Judy Garland-like tomboy sent through the Hollywood wringer as a synthetic starlet. Wood is spirited in the lead role, Christopher Plummer is snakelike as a studio boss, and Robert Redford enjoys himself as a devilish movie star. But the film almost chokes on its own cynicism (the film's basically one long demonstration of how audiences are suckers), despite the intelligence of director Robert Mulligan & co. It's impossible not to relate the storyline to Wood's own curious career, and she looks as though she's found a role to identify with completely. Extras in the set are minimal, but prints are uniformly fine. --Robert Horton
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