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Barbara Loden's Wanda
Barbara Loden's Wanda
Actors: Barbara Loden, Michael Higgins, Dorothy Shupenes, Peter Shupenes, Jerome Thier
Director: Barbara Loden
Genres: Drama
UR     2006     1hr 42min

An overlooked landmark of 70's American cinema, Barbara Loden's WANDA is a radical revisioning of the road movie genre. Writer-director Loden (wife of famed director Elia Kazan) stars as Wanda, a troubled young woman adrif...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Barbara Loden, Michael Higgins, Dorothy Shupenes, Peter Shupenes, Jerome Thier
Director: Barbara Loden
Creators: Barbara Loden, Nicholas T. Proferes, Harry Shuster
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance
Studio: Parlour Pictures
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 07/25/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/1970
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1970
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 42min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Hello, Wanda -- At Last!
Randy Buck | Brooklyn, NY USA | 08/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film's been practially impossible to see for most of its existence -- released for a brief original run in one New York theatre, then, despite many superlative reviews, allowed to sink into obscurity. Its current DVD incarnation is cause for celebration. WANDA's writer-director-star, Barbara Loden, was an extremely interesting woman, primarily remembered for her small, vibrant role as Beatty's troubled sister in SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, and her marriage to that film's director, Elia Kazan. (Loden also won a Tony as the Monroe figure in Kazan's Lincoln Center production of Miller's AFTER THE FALL.) She spent years trying to get financing for WANDA, and apparently was angered and embittered by its failure to lead to other directing projects. Her early death from cancer deprived us of a remarkable talent, as this film proves. WANDA's long been championed by such French artists as Marguerite Duras and Isabelle Huppert; understandable, since the picture bears more than a passing resemblance to the French New Wave. Inspired by a newspaper story Loden had read, the film's primarily a character study, not plot-driven. Loden draws fine work from the other actors (including many non-professionals), and gives a haunting, memorable portrayal in the title role. With great economy of means (literal and figurative), she gives a performance you won't soon forget. Fans of independent cinema should grab this one quickly."
Quietly surprising and enthalling....
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 01/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I can't remember when I heard about this film, but once I did, it went into the queue at Netflix. It's really a quietly amazing piece of filmmaking. It has almost a Bressonian vibe to it. The film was shot exclusively in and around Scranton, PA, which really gives it a unique look.

Technically, it could have better. The sound is muffled at times, and the shaky camerawork is distracting at times. But there are several astounding scenes, like the opening sequence, where Wanda (played by writer/director Barbara Loden) is wandering through a coal quarry for several minutes. There is a scene shot in a catacomb museum that is really striking. A bank robbery scene has a surreal, strange vibe to it, reminiscent of Bresson's L'argent bank heist. The ending is also quite stunning. Even the rather standard plot line of "lovers on the run" (Wanda hooks up with a bank robber for the last hour of the film) is enhanced by the style and substance of the film. It's slow, almost European like in its pacing, which works wonderfully. The only American film that it reminds me of is Monte Hellman's Two Lane Blacktop, in that it's an American film with a distinctively European vibe. I was really surprised by this amazingly quiet, almost transcendent film. It's a shame that Barbara Loden died shortly after making this (she died of cancer at 48), as this is her only film as writer/director. But if you get a chance, you should see this one soon.

John Farr | 07/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Best known for her role in "Splendor in the Grass," directed by husband Elia Kazan, Loden was a ravishing beauty who transformed herself into a wayward housewife-in-curlers for this absorbing, ultra-realistic character study. Part of a short-lived trend of hard-hitting women's films in the early '70s, "Wanda" remains compelling for Loden's uncomfortably downcast performance, the gritty 16mm look of its rundown locales, and Higgins's marvelously inscrutable turn as a fledgling bank robber. Sadly, this was Loden's only directorial effort. Despite its low-budget aesthetic, "Wanda" shows a depth of emotion and low-key anger few films can match."
An unsung Masterwork of "cinema verite"
Ronald Chase Sf Film | San Francisco, CA USA | 12/31/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Very few people took notice of Wanda on it's release--the critics found it depressing and "undramatic", its visual style amateurish, its plot hardly formed. What a difference a few decades can make. Now the film stands very tall with the best of the "cimema verite" style--it's tone echoes both the Dardenne Brothers films and the harsh world of Gaspar Noe, as well as the best of independent film making. It is a film very ahead of its time--prophetic in so many ways. The heroine is an utter failure with little future-but this film, with its muted colors, marvelous sense of place, and steady devotion to harsh truths makes it one of the strongest works of art to emerge from the 60's. It's a revelation for anyone devoted to great cinema."