Splendor in the Grass (1961)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama, Romance


Splendor in the Grass (1961) Poster

A fragile Kansas girl's love for a handsome young man from the town's most powerful family drives her to heartbreak and madness.


7.8/10
17,207

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  • Natalie Wood for "Splendor In The Grass,"
  • "Splendor In The Grass," Natalie Wood & Warren Beatty. 1961/Warner Bros.
  • Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty at an event for Splendor in the Grass (1961)
  • "Splendor in the Grass" Warren Beatty 1961 Warner
  • Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass (1961)
  • Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass (1961)

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21 April 2003 | secragt
9
| Get The Kleenex Ready
So poignant, it hurts. And I'm a heterosexual male who enjoys football and grunge. Though some of the attitudes toward sex have been tempered in the intervening years, the turmoils and pressures of being a teen ring just as true today 42 years after this film's release. Kazan is a master at capturing those wrenching angsty adolescent and post-adolescent moments of emotional vulnerability and doubt, especially concerning the love/hate between children and their parents, and this is among his best work. A reminder that wistful remembrances of the seeming innocence and happiness of youth are probably wishful thinking, and also an ironic prodding that there is seemingly something idealistic lost or compromised when we enter adulthood. Kudos to the entire cast but in particular, Natalie Wood is scintillating, perfectly encapsulating the joys and horrors of someone caught up in the dizzying power and raging hormones of teen love. Beatty is solid, too, if a bit overly earnest.

All of the twists and turns of the plot work, though ultimately Bud's family's economic setbacks and deaths and Didi's family's successes are mere soap operatic window dressing to the "A" plot line, which is the heart tugging reality of "nothing bringing back the hour of the Splendor In The Grass" for Bud and Didi, though both obviously still share the feeling. This is the kind of movie that doesn't get made in America now because of the non-commercial (but accurate) ending. Okay, they broached it in the less psychologically challenging CASTAWAY, but slapped on a happy ending afterwards.

SPLENDOR is not perfect; Bud's father (Pat Hingle) is a little overwrought and stereotypically drawn as the socioeconomic snob with castratingly ambitious designs on Bud's future. Bud's sister (Barbara Loden) is similarly too pat as the troubled, neglected child who does all she can to get daddy's disapproval. Still, any of the soapy aspects of the plot just fall away when the Beatty / Wood romance plot line gets cooking. They got the meat of this movie just right and the result is one of the most memorable and vivid examples of young romance ever set down on celluloid. Don't miss it!

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Drama | Romance

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