Review

  • Though not without interest, this 1965 film based on Gavin Lambert's adaptation of his novel, is a disjointed mess that never finds the right tone. It's notably lacking in energy and depth, and it's too funereal to even succeed as camp. It's part musical and part Hollywood Gothic. Natalie Wood plays Daisy Clover whose manufactured rise to fame is chronicled beginning on her 15th birthday. At 26, Wood plays the tough talking tomboy for what its worth, but the streetwise Daisy seems to lose her spunk and ambition the minute she enters Swan Studios. Except for Christopher Plummer and Robert Redford, the supporting cast is forgettable, and the only performance of interest besides Wood's is Ruth Gordon's as her mother. Gordon was Oscar-nominated, but gave a funnier performance the following year in Lord Love a Duck. The musical sequences, choreographed by Herbert Ross, are the highlight of the film along with a promotional film for Daisy, and an showy scene of Daisy breaking down in a recording booth. The film lacks a clear conflict, has no momentum, and feels longer than 128 minutes. In addition, the sense of period isn't convincingly rendered, and the ending is as uncertain as the rest of the film. Gavin Lambert wrote a biography of Natalie Wood in which he says the film was originally some 20 minutes longer, a musical number was cut, and Daisy's narration was heard throughout the film not just at the beginning and end as in the released film. Director Richard Mulligan worked with Wood previously in Love with the Proper Stranger (63). The scenes set at Angel Beach were shot on the famous Santa Monica Pier.