Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Splendor in the Grass

I do have to uphold the bargain that this blog is not written on subjects ONLY within the confines of literature. I think I mentioned this in my "About Me" section, but I also have a soft spot for old movies. I really like the time period from the late 1930s to the early 1950s, with the exception of Westerns, which I openly despise. Anyway, I'm never ashamed to spend a lazy day watching movies on TCM. I've even started buying black and white movies and watching them with my parents (who are in awe at the fact that their sixteen year old daughter is watching movies that were made before they themselves were even born).

Last night, I sat in my bed bored out of my mind. Most nights I'm stacked with homework, but it's nearing the end of the school year so the teachers are beginning to let up. I turned to TV guide and the movie "Splendor in the Grass" caught my eye. Now, WHY would that be of any interest to me? Well, the title is taken directly from my favorite poem by William Wordsworth, so I couldn't help but investigate a little further. I caught the movie at the beginning and watched the entire thing...this movie was REALLY good.

It's set in the late 1920s right before (and during) the Great Depression and tells the story of a teenage girl named Deanie (Natalie Wood) and her boyfriend, Bud (Warren Beatty). The movie basically centers on how teens coped (or struggled) with sexual tension back in that day. Deanie is a poor girl whose parents are constantly telling her to save herself for marriage because "boys want good girls" while Bud's dad is telling him "don't get that girl in trouble because then you'll HAVE to marry her."

 Bud's dad is the overbearing, rich, father who always talks but never seems to listen. Basically, the weight of the entire family is put on Bud because he has to inherit the family business and his older sister went down the wrong path and isn't exactly the purest girl on the block and has pretty much ruined her future. His dad presses him to attend Yale and all the while he has to deal with all this, as well as the fact that he seems to have trouble repressing his sexual temptation.

Anyway, so Deanie is resolved that she's going to stay the "good girl" and she's madly infatuated with Bud, so much so that she admits that she "worships" him. When she says that, you pretty much know that something is bound to go downhill. Even though Deanie is in love with him and he with her, Bud is still constantly irritated by the fact that she won't give herself to him. His sexual tension consequently affects his mood until he honestly just can't handle it anymore. He goes to his dad, and asks his permission to marry Deanie, saying that he really is in love with her, which he is, but all the same the audience can tell that he really sees this as the only way he can relieve himself. His father declines, saying that marrying will get in the way of Bud's future. He then gives Bud an alternative route by basically telling him that he should probably get involved with a "different type of girl."

And thus...everything goes downhill. Bud ends up hanging out with the school tramp and having sex with her. Deanie finds out and goes absolutely insane. And when I say insane, I mean it. She ends up in an asylum where she has to basically recooperate from heartbreak.

Anyway, I'm not going to give you the whole plot breakdown, but this really was a great movie. Apparently it received lots of praise when it came out back in the 50s. The actors were incredible and I was surprised by how palpable the tension was, especially in a movie made so long ago when sexual tension on screen was practically nonexistant. The story line is still relateable to teens in this day and age for the most part. There was something about this film that I couldn't really put my finger on, but it kind of snuck its way into my heart. If you ever happen to catch it, watch it. If you've seen it before, please comment.


  1. I haven't seen Splendor in AGES...but you're making me want to rewatch it. :)

  2. I'm sixteen too and I'm a very big fan of 'Splendor in the Grass' and of old movies too. I really discovered it this Spring with my sister (she's 18), she had saw scenes from it and I know the film by name but I simply adored it when I see it !!! I fell in love with Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood is just so wonderful and cute as Deanie ! I class this picture in my list of Best Movies for sure ! Since I watch it I become a fan of Natalie and I have learned the scene where Deanie recite the poem of Wordsworth by heart.
    I recommend it to everyone, specially teens like me because even if they're not like Bud or Deanie, they can recognise themself for the character's age and it's not a 'teen movie' like we saw today but a really realistic and moving picture with a great reproduction of the 1920's and two of the best actors I ever saw :)
    (and please forgive me if my english seems a little strange, I'm french and I am not so good in English)