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Drama - Romantic

Splendour in the Grass (1961)

Duration1h 38m
RatingsUK: X, USA: Not Rated, Norway: 12
Source of storyAn original screenplay, but possibly related to a stage play written by the author.
DirectorElia Kazan
Writers/ScriptWilliam Inge
StarringNatalie Wood, Pat Hingle, Barbara Loden, Warren Beatty, Sandy Dennis,
RatingsIMDb:7.7/10 by 21,561 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 72% by 25 reviewers. Review2view: 6/10.

Summary: It is 1928 in Kansas. Wilma Dean “Deanie” Loomis and Bud Stamper, who is son of an oil magnate are college students and are romantically entangled. Both young people are counselled by their parents to avoid sex, and they do. But when Ginny, Bud’s socialite sister is almost raped, he decides that they must part. Later Deanie attempts suicide in a pond, after an almost sexual experience, but is rescued and is consigned to an asylum for two years. During her incarceration the Wall Street crash takes place which results in Bud’s father’s suicide When she comes out, older and calmer, and potentially going to marry another former inmate, no-one will tell her where Bud is, but finally  her father tells her that he has become a rancher in one of his father’s old farm. She decides to visit.

Content: No sex, although a lot of talking about it, or actual nudity although a scene involving Deanie rising from a bath was cut from American versions. There is a lot of drinking – it was during prohibition – and some smoking. Ginny, Bud’s sister is drunk quite a lot of the time, particularly during parties. Several scenes of Deanie and Bud engaging in intense snogging. Bud’s dad shouts at him all the time. He is an oil man. Deanie’s parents are down to earth people. The young people are seen in a college environment with other students, and at one point the Wordsworth poem from which the title is taken is recited.

A View: I have been reading Elia Kazan’s autobiography, which made this film of particular interest for me. Barbara Loden was his lover at the time. I am forced to say that I am on the side of the critics who found it is probable that even in 1928 young people were “not sexually frustrated to the point of lunacy”. And despite considerable effort, the lovers never really looked like college students. They were in their early twenties at the time, and they looked a lot more comfortable when Deanie came out of the asylum in 1933. The film won an Oscar for the screenplay and Natalie Wood was nominated for Best Actress. Probably a watch for those interested in cinematic history.

Pat Hingle who had played Ace Stamper is a well used supporting actor favoured by Clint Eastwood, and more famously was Commissioner Gordon in the Tim Burton Batman films. See him in Batman, The Gauntlet and The Quick and the Dead

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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