Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saturday Matinee: Splendor in the Grass

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

"Deanie Loomis (played by Natalie Wood), a teen-aged girl living in a small town in Kansas in 1928, follows her mother's advice to resist her desire for sex with her boyfriend, Bud Stamper (Warren Beatty), the scion of the most prosperous family in town. In his turn, Bud reluctantly follows the advice of his father, Ace (Pat Hingle), who suggests that he find another kind of girl with whom to satisfy his sexual desires.
Bud's parents are disappointed by, and ashamed of, his older sister, Ginny (Barbara Loden), a party girl who is sexually promiscuous, smokes, drinks, has had an abortion (or as Deanie's mothers said "one of those 'awful surgeries'"), and a marriage annulled, so they "pin all their hopes" on Bud, pressuring him to attend Yale University." (from Wikipedia) 

There is much more to read on both Wikipedia and IMDb but I warn you, they give away so much of the movie...and why would you want to ruin the movie?  Just go watch it if you haven't, or watch it again, if you have seen it.

The movie takes on more than this little synopsis, much more.  It takes on what the poem speaks of romanticizing things in our past, things like teenage love.  We think, when we are young, that we are in love...can not live without...etc etc ...our special someone.  I am sure it is love, in what we thought love was at the time...but it is immature love.  Sometimes that love is true and the couple lives happily ever after.  Sometimes, they do not.

The film's title is taken from a line of William Wordsworth's poem "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood":
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind
Romanticising the past, not just love, is something we all do.  Reminiscing about the "good ole days"...but really, not everything about the "good ole days" was perfect, now was it?  What the poem suggests is to not grieve for the past but to remember it, enjoy it, and learn from it.

There is also the theme of sexuality...or denying it.  "The different mindsets motivating Deanie's mother, who is relatively poor, and Bud's father, who has made a great deal of money in the oil industry, to hold back their children's sexuality are evident in two adjacent scenes early in the story. In the first, Deanie's mother encourages her not to give up her virginity to Bud, telling her "Boys don't respect a girl they can go all the way with; boys want a nice girl for a wife". Having bid her daughter a good night, Mrs. Loomis then talks with her husband, enthusiastically informing him that their daughter and the son of the richest family in town are in love and that Bud would "be the catch of a lifetime". In the next scene, Bud's father encourages him to abstain from sex with Deanie, because, if Deanie were to conceive a child by Bud, they would have to marry.
Deanie's mother believes that sex would ruin her daughter's chances of marrying Bud. Bud's father believes that sex, especially pregnancy, would force his son to marry Deanie. One parent wishes for such a marriage, while the other seems to warn against it. In their discussion of what kind of girl a boy wants as a wife, Mrs. Loomis also tells Deanie that "No nice girl" has sexual desires for a boy. When Deanie asks her mother whether she was ever sexually attracted to Mr. Loomis, the answer is "Your father never laid a hand on me until we were married. And, then, I—I just gave in because a wife has to. A woman doesn't enjoy those things the way a man does. She just lets her husband come near her in order to have children." This enhances Deanie's inner struggle—about whether to give Bud what she and he both seem to want, or whether to behave in a more socially acceptable way, avoid the risk of pregnancy, and follow her mother's advice about how to retain Bud's respect—, which eventually drives her to madness." (from Wikipedia)

Really?  Why not just teach the teens about sex and how they should wait...bla bla bla...  "No nice girl has sexual desires"....Yep...telling an ignorant girl THIS might drive her to think she is crazy.  Teaching about sex would show that she is normal...but still no need to get "naughty", right?  LOL.  This movie was not unique with this .... people just did not "talk" about such things back then.  So glad we do now....we do, right?  ha ha!

This is one that I will watch again and again...every few years or so.  It is a definite choice, if you see it on TCM.  Natalie Wood is gorgeous and Warren Beatty is it does make a pretty picture.

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