I've always been attracted to cynical films (such as Billy Wilder's "Ace in the Hole" for example) because life doesn't always have happy Hollywood endings. This one oozes cynicism. It has that rare combination of darkness, humor and camp (like "Sunset Blvd." and "The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T" ).
The acting is good all around, if sometimes over the top. Roddy McDowell's hilariously underplayed supporting role as Swan's secretary helps offset the overplaying by others, particularly Daisy's sister Gloria. The sexual ambiguity of the film's characters is a clear jab at the carefree decadence of Hollywood in the 20's and 30's.
The modern-day Busby-Berkley-styled "You're Gonna Hear From Me" sequence is anachronistic, but it's highly entertaining. The tune is one of the best created by Dory & Andre Previn, and you won't be able to get it out of your head for awhile. Mulligan's use of absolute silence in the studio when Daisy breaks down in the isolation booth is brilliantly disturbing, an unforgettable scene.
By the way, the first few times I saw this film on TV years ago, the reference to the Redford character's homosexuality had been cut out. Hmm. Also, my first impression was that the story had been very loosely based on the early career of Judy Garland, but I guess Daisy could have been a composite of all young actors in the 30's who were just considered a commodity, property of the studio, to be exploited or thrown away as they saw fit.
"Daisy Clover" is not a film for every taste for sure, but it's a great cult classic and a pleasure for cynical film lovers like me.
I waited for months for this to come on TCM because Leonard Maltin said it was a "very, very funny" screwball comedy. He must have seen a different movie. This film has plenty of screwballs in it, alright, but the "plot" is confusing, wandering all over the place with no clear direction, the characters are irritating, and the dialog is stupid -- I can't believe Ben Hecht and Herman Mankiewicz couldn't do better than this. Not funny, just plain silly. A waste of time.