Elia Kazan's pedal-to-the-metal approach to psychosexual melodrama paid off handsomely when he had layered material by Tennessee Williams or John Steinbeck to work with. The very raw material here is an original by hot-blo... more »oded playwright William Inge, about a pair of teenagers in the American Midwest in the 1920s whose lives are ruined by the repressive sexual climate of the period. The girl, played by Natalie Wood, is literally driven batty by her pent-up adolescent lust and ends up in the bin---which admittedly plays better than sounds, because the hunk she yearns for is the young and almost impossibly handsome Warren Beatty. This is a very lush and beautiful movie, but also a deeply silly one. It's grade-A American cheese, with a pinch of dime-store Freud on top.--David Chute« less
Marleen M. from WHEELING, WV Reviewed on 6/25/2010...
This is one of my all time favorites about 2 teens so much in love, with parents interference and heartbreak that made me cry. Saw this years ago and am adding this to my wishlist.
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Middle-aged stars outshine glamorous leads
David A. Caplan | Greenwich, CT USA | 12/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The plot of Splendor in the Grass revolves around the fateful love between two teens, Bud and Deanie, in late 20s Kansas. Seemingly destined to be together, they are thwarted by repressive sexual mores and their overbearing parents. Deanie suffers a nervous breakdown over their separation and Bud winds up a failure at Yale, eventually becoming a dirt farmer. This occurs against a backdrop of 20s financial speculation, culminating in the stock market crash and depression. Beatty is adequate as Bud, while Natalie Wood gives a deeply sensitive portrayal as Deanie. However, both principals are upstaged by the actors portraying their dominant parents. Pat Hingle, always excellent, plays Bud's wealthy father, a crude oil man. Audrey Christie is Deanie's mother, constantly vigilant about her daughter's purity. Both manage the difficult task of portraying sincerely loving parents who nevertheless have a baneful influence on their children's lives. I'd also like to put in a good word for Fred Stewart playing Del Loomis, Deanie's father. His role as the small town grocer is small, but he does subtle wonders in a scene at the end of the movie where he overrules his wife's objection to Deanie's seeing Bud again. One wants to weep at his paternal love. If the film's diatribe against sexual repression is no longer fresh, its depiction of the banality of smalltown life remains so. This is skillfully shown in the second scene, where the Loomises' frame house is shown behind a large graphic reading "Southeast Kansas 1928." By vaguely mentioning the story's setting, rather than specifying a town, the director, Kazan, emphasizes the generic quality of the setting and makes it more insignificant and insipid. Snoopy, gossiping neighbors, drunken oil workers, and insensitive classmates all contribute to this mood. The one character who attempts to break free from this stifling atmosphere, Bud's wayward sister, Ginny, comes to grief, as if to emphasize the impossibility of escape. Despite the somewhat pedestrian plot, the film is redeemed by the performances. The final scene, where Deanie, home after being cured of her breakdown, visits Bud, now married and living on a dusty farm, is very poignant. It's a vivid depiction of lovers separated by destiny. I would also like to praise David Amram's evocative, bluesy theme music. Played over the opening credits, it mightily prepares the viewer for the story he's about to see. I can't close this review without complaining that I was unable to access the theatrical trailer promised on my DVD box. I've never had this problem with any other DVD special features, and can only guess this was the manufacturer's fault, not mine."
Jade Rashad | Dallas | 07/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ok, I'm only 25, I'm a Black Male who loves Hip Hop and all of that. Well, I saw this film by "accident" on AMC when I was flipping channels one night. The only reason I started watching it was because it had Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood, and I thought it would be "funny" to see them when they were young.
What I got instead was an AMAZING film about 2 high school sweethearts who are hopelessly in love during a time when society dictated who (and HOW) you were allowed to love someone.
In many ways this has not changed, as a Black man who has been in love with a white women, I can easily identify with this film.
During the 1920's in a small town in Kansas, Deanie (Natalie Wood) is in love with Bud (Beatty). He wants to go all the way, but she's been taught that only "bad" girls do that, and no real man would ever respect if she did. So she holds off, and Bud eventually sleeps with the school "flapper girl". Deanie can not stand this, and eventually falls into depression, soon to be followed by Bud. Both of them have realized the mistake they made and need to get back together. Unfortunately the wheels of fortune are already in motion, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them. Frankly, I was not prepared for how emotional this film would be, or for how amazing the performance were. Now I understand all the hype that Natalie Wood has received over the years, her performance in this movie is truly heart-breaking. Everyone should watch this movie and LEARN from it - when you fall in love with someone, there is a reason for it, and you should NEVER let others dictate your feelings or emotions for you. The classic line in the movie is from a book of poetry:
"Though we can never bring back the hour of Splendor In The Grass, of glory in the flower, we will grieve not, rather find strenght in what remains behind"
These words are seen by me as a warning to all of us: Act now and set your path, or you will spend the rest of your life with nothing but memories. They may be good memories, but they are only that - just memories. And wouldn't it be better to spend your days with your one true love, then only have memories of what might have been ??"
Splendor in the Wood
James Chong | 04/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Simply put, Natalie Wood provides one of the most poignant depictions of tortured adolescence ever put to film. Wood is utterly mesmerizing as Deanie, a beautiful but insecure young girl who carefully constructs her entire existence around the love of her life--a brooding young high school hero named Bud--only to have her mental and emotional worlds simultaneously come crashing down when Bud suddenly pulls himself out of her life.Looking back, it was apt that Wood first came to stardom playing opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, for her performance in this film equals Dean's in terms of sheer emotional ferocity and raw vulnerability. While Splendor in the Grass is by no means one of director Elia Kazan's masterpieces, it is very much worth watching if only as a showcase for the heartbreaking Natalie Wood."
POIGNANT COMING OF AGE STORY OF STAR CROSSED LOVERS...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 06/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a deft directorial effort by Elia Kazan. The name of the film comes from some telling lines of poetry from Wordsworth that are thematic for what transpires in the film. It is a beautifully acted, well told, coming of age story. It is also a story about young love in all its innocence and hopefulness.
The film takes the viewer to the bucolic Midwest of the nineteen twenties. There, the viewer meets small town, high school sweethearts, the lovely Wilma Dean Loomis (Natalie Wood) and the handsome and wealthy Bud Stamper (Warren Beatty). Wilma, "Deanie" to her friends, is head over heels in love with Bud, and he is head over heels in love with "Deanie". They want to get married right after graduation, and Bud wants to farm the family ranch.
The only problem is Bud's Father. He wants Bud to cool it with "Deanie" and to see other girls for the fun of it. He wants Bud to attend an Ivy League college and put off getting married. Bud tries to comply and cools it with "Deanie". The problem is that things had heated up between them before the breakup, and "Deanie" cannot adjust to being without Bud. Her heartbreak is palpable, and Natalie Wood's performance is so poignant, the viewer can just about hear her heart break, when she sees Bud with another girl. It is her yearning for what was that ultimately brings her to the bittersweet edge of despair. Likewise, it is Bud's yearning for "Deanie" that makes him behave in ways that are contrary to his own interests.
Well, the best laid plans often go awry, and things do not work out for Bud or "Deanie" the way they had originally planned. Their world is rent asunder by the vicissitudes of life and the impact of world events and others on their plans. What happens to "Deanie" and Bud when they come to a fork in the road, puts them on paths that may criss-cross, but will never again see them travel on the same road at the same time. This is a heartrending story of star crossed lovers that is sure to touch the viewer. It is at the conclusion of the film that the beauty of Wordsworth's words are driven home and take root in the viewer's heart."
Teenaged Sexual Repression Captured Vividly by Kazan's Sure
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 08/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the same way he was able to extract a searing performance from Andy Griffith in 1957's "A Face in the Crowd", master director Elia Kazan gets similarly stellar results from Natalie Wood in this classic 1961 melodrama about youthful sexual repression in rural 1920's Kansas. In the same year as her Maria in "West Side Story", she has never been more affecting then she is here as Deanie Loomis, the local butcher's daughter deeply in love with Bud Stamper, the son of an oil scion and the high school football hero. They are the senior sweethearts everyone expects to marry, but both have to battle constantly with their sexual longing and their grasping parents.
The ruling moral code restricts Deanie more than Bud who ends up cavorting with a good-time girl named Juanita. The indiscretion overwhelms Deanie who attempts suicide and ends up in a sanitarium for her fragile mental state. A few years later with their lives on divergent paths, they meet again to come to terms with each other. While the whole film is beautifully executed thanks to Kazan's sure hand and William Inge's screenplay (his first directly for the screen), it's the last fifteen minutes that really resonate with the characters expressing their emotions with a minimum of dialogue. Otherwise, there are plenty of heated moments of melodrama along with soap opera elements familiar to anyone who has seen 1955's "Picnic" based on Inge's successful Broadway play.
At her most beautiful, Wood is wondrous as she moves fluidly from innocently infatuated to obsessive to resigned. As the none-too-bright Bud, Warren Beatty is charismatic in his film debut and makes Deanie's powerful fixation completely understandable. There are several standout performances among the supporting cast with Audrey Christie pitch-perfect as Deanie's unsympathetic mother, Pat Hingle in blowhard mode as Bud's power-hungry father, and Zohra Lampert as Angie, the self-effacing waitress Bud meets at Yale. The classic Wordsworth poem from which the film's title is derived makes a fitting coda for this movie, and I still feel the intractable sense of longing in the two lead characters every time I see this movie. The 2001 DVD unfortunately has no extras."