Splendor In The Grass (DVD)

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Splendor In The Grass (DVD)

Warren Beatty makes his screen debut alongside Natalie Wood in this drama revolving around repressed sexuality and small-town hypocrisy in 1920s Ameri...

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Review of "Splendor In The Grass (DVD)"

published 19/03/2017 | CelticSoulSister
Member since : 25/10/2009
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Super
Pro Well-acted, intelligent, polished production, poignant, thoughtful
Cons Drifts from the point here and there, too slow-moving in parts
exceptional
Did you enjoy it?
Story
Characters / Performances
Special Effects
Soundtrack

"Who and what should you love?"

RELEASED: 1961, Cert. 15

RUNNING TIME: Approx. 2hrs 4mins

DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Elia Kazran

SCREENPLAY: William Inge

MUSIC: David Amram

MAIN CAST:-

Natalie Wood as Wilma Dean Loomis “Deannie”
Warren Beatty as Bud Stamper
Audrey Christie as Mrs Loomis
Fred Stewart as Del Loomis
Joanna Moss as Mrs Stamper
Pat Hingle as Ace Stamper

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FILM ONLY REVIEW

Splendor In The Grass begins in 1928 and is set in Kansas.

Teenage Wilma Dean Loomis (affectionately known as Deannie) and Bud Stamper attend the same school, and are in love. Starry-eyed, they plan to marry once they both graduate.

However, their romance is not without its problems in that Bud’s father wants him to succeed in life and go to Yale University, whereas all Bud wants to do is be with Deannie.

After much agonising, Bud eventually agrees to do what his father wants, reluctantly breaking off the romance with Deannie.

Deannie just can’t cope without Bud after he vanishes from her life and the strain causes her to have some kind of breakdown.

Meanwhile, all Bud’s father can think of is how much money he wants to make plus how much money other people do or don’t have, and Deannie’s mother seems unable to focus on anything except for her obsession as to whether Bud and Deannie have had sex or not.

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Splendor In The Grass is one of these classic films which I’ve only recently got around to watching, despite being aware of it for many years.

The opening scenes drew me in quite nicely, and I instantly had the feeling of the film being made in a style which words can’t quite describe, but the closest I can get is to – style-wise – compare it with something like East Of Eden which starred the infamous James Dean playing what he was best at, the moody teen role.

The acting throughout is very good by the whole main cast, with probably Natalie Wood giving the best performance as the lovelorn Deannie, but there was one instance where I do feel she over-acted a bit. Thankfully that scene is a very short one, and the rest of her performance is flawless. Everybody played their parts superbly though, and it was interesting to see Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty as fresh-faced young actors, in the early part of their career.

The music to Splendor In The Grass is quite pleasant, it being a mixture of light orchestral stuff and some borderline jazzy sax tootlings, very befitting to whatever scenes in the film these styles of music accompany.

I did actually find this to be a quite slow-moving film, but it brilliantly deals with the problems which can arise between a young couple and how far they could or should take their relationship, back in the late 1920s when the world was still trying to find its way out of the very last dregs of Victorian attitudes. Sex in this film is strongly hinted at in such a way that the viewer is fully aware of erotic thoughts flitting through the minds of a teenage couple, yet nothing is shown in great detail. That to me signifies a skill of sorts, in that it adds a punch to the storyline without delving into tedious episodes of graphic bonking. Perhaps I should expand and say that no bonking takes place, but in the back of his car, things between Bud and Deannie do threaten to get out of hand, bearing in mind Deannie – obsessively encouraged by her mother – has decided that she and Bud should resist from doing the deed until after they have married.

One thing I found a bit disconcerting was that not too far into the film, Bud’s older sister makes an appearance, she being a heavy drinking, flirtatious, rebellious young woman who seems to have little or no regard as to who she embarrasses, including herself. I do wonder why she was brought into the storyline, simply because she as a character seems to take a back seat after the viewer has been introduced to what things possibly could have evolved into – but didn’t – e.g. the possibility of her having a major effect on Bud’s and Deannie’s relationship. Therefore, as a character, I see Bud’s sister as unnecessary to the storyline really, simply because her presence is ultimately irrelevant.

I suppose the crux of the film really is about the pit of despair Deannie finds herself in when Bud reluctantly decides to follow the path that his father is pushing him into, and the way the breakup of the romance affects her.

As said above, this is quite a slow moving film that takes a while to get stuck into the nitty gritty and I do feel that 20 or so minutes could have been removed from the running time in order for it to project with full impact, simply because while the peripheries were happening and in my opinion being focused on too heavily, I was in danger of losing the main plot…..I did just about manage to hold onto it, but almost became completely distracted. These more minor aspects of the storyline are necessary, but I felt they could have been brushed over as they seemed to dominate the proceedings.

There is a powerful sense of what I can only refer to as intelligent poignancy running throughout Splendor In The Grass, gently leading up to a finale which I found particularly moving, in a quiet sort of way. That ending has stayed fresh in my mind, and is something that up to a point I can personally relate to.

I understand that this is a film which has gone down as an all-time classic of sorts, it receiving a few prestigious awards at the time of its release. I do feel those awards are well-deserved, but although I enjoyed the film immensely, something was missing for me – OK, something minor and I can’t explain what it is, but whatever it should be, its inclusion I feel would have sealed Splendor In The Grass off nicely, turning it from a very good film into something quite stunning…..stunning in the best sense of the word, of course.

Some people may find this a bit of a weepie film, but I personally didn’t. Although it is sad, the emotional parts are conveyed in a sensible, intelligent way and there thankfully is no mush, mawk, sugary stuff nor any scenes that make you want to reach for the sick bucket. In that way, Splendor In The Grass is a highly polished, respectful production that is presented in almost epic format, being well-acted, well-directed and carefully thought out for the most part…for instance, great attention is paid to the period in which the story is set as regards people’s lifestyles, attitudes, fashions of clothes, cars etc.

Would I recommend Splendor In The Grass? Oh, yes, even with its minor flaws (well I saw them as minor flaws – some people may not think they are flaws at all), and I do feel it would appeal to anybody and everybody, of whatever age or gender, right across the spectrum. Although it doesn’t contain any actual sex (despite the definite hint of it being there) and is completely devoid of violence and swearing, it still is an adult topic for a storyline which may step outside of something that younger people (and I mean the under-15s) could appreciate/understand. Very young people simply would find the film boring.

I have been cogitating quite deeply about how many stars I should award, really wanting to issue a full house, but I’m afraid I must knock one off simply due to what I see as a mis-focus on what the story really is about at its very core, plus what perhaps could be seen as a bit of wasted time on the peripheries that distract from the main theme…..so, four stars it gets from me.

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At the time of writing, Splendor In The Grass can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-

New: from £19.99 to £199.99 (!!)
Used: from £6.29 to £63.61
Collectible: only one copy (used) currently available @ £7.28

Some DVDs on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn’t apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.

Thanks for reading!

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Comments on this review

  • jb0077 published 27/03/2017
    vh
  • catsholiday published 22/03/2017
    Sounds pleasant enough
  • euphie published 22/03/2017
    e :o)
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Product Information : Splendor In The Grass (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Warren Beatty makes his screen debut alongside Natalie Wood in this drama revolving around repressed sexuality and small-town hypocrisy in 1920s America.

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