“The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.” Hamlet.
” What’s OR-IS-ONS ? “ squawks Daisy Clover (Natalie Wood), to Wade Lewis (Robert Redford) when he quotes Hamlet in apology to Daisy for disappearing after he seduced her in a drunken one-night stand. Inside Daisy Clover, (WB, 1965), directed by Robert Mulligan.
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Daisy Clover, a teenager of the mid 1930s, lives in a trailer in a seedy, former seaside resort with her mother, a card-reading fortune-teller whose tenuous grip on reality requires as much attention as the restless Daisy can muster. For Daisy, the world “is a garbage dump, and we’re just the flies it attracts.” But Daisy has a grown-up singing voice and a dream of stardom: she makes a cheap acetate record and mails it to a Hollywood studio. Daisy is “discovered” and promoted as the next movie musical sensation.
Almost from the minute that Daisy sets foot on the Swan Studios lot, she finds disappointment and heartache: Hollywood is just another variation on the “garbage dump,” a factory for phony, cardboard cutout fantasies. It also has its “flies.” The moguls and the stars, even their flunkies, are pathologically cynical creeps who prey on the naive and the vulnerable, and who bathe themselves in money, sex and alcohol in a desperate attempt to wash away the stench and find something approaching happiness.
A fifteen-year-old virgin, Daisy is an easy target for the suave, corrosively laconic superstar of Swan Studios, Wade Lewis. Born Lewis Wade, he is the son of a wealthy mattress-maker, thus money has never been his goal. An incredibly handsome, virile and sophisticated leading man who makes women of all ages swoon, he is also a homosexual who loves seducing beautiful, wealthy women (including the wife of the studio head), only to leave them “wanting.” But he never fails to return to them for his favorite scene: watching them lap up his droll apologies.
Wade: “Didn’t send it.”
Daisy: “Wha’d it say?”
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Inside Daisy Clover, a 1965 Warner Brothers release, was directed by Robert Mulligan, adapted from the novel by Gavin Lambert (who became a close friend of Natalie Wood and wrote the biography, “Natalie Wood: a Life” published by Knopf in 2004).
Natalie Wood and Robert Redford also became friends and co-starred in her next film project, This Property is Condemned in 1966. Redford has always given considerable credit to Natalie Wood for assisting him in launching his own film career.
The chemistry between Wood and Redford was strong, and never more evident than in the above scene from Inside Daisy Clover, where he literally wipes away her pain along with the makeup (and without words). It is as tender, romantic, even sensual in a sweet way, as any scene I’ve seen in a motion picture. I’ll save the remainder of the story for another day and a more in-depth look at the film.
For Further Reading:
Finstad, Suzanne, “Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood” Harmony Books, 2001.
Lambert, Gavin, “Natalie Wood: a Life” Knopf, 2004.
For more information on these books, check out the Bibliography page under the header image at the top of this post. Also, you may be interested in these prior posts: Natalie Wood, Looking for Love, NYC 1963; Natalie Wood: On the Cusp (Part One); Natalie Wood: On the Cusp (Part Two); Natalie Wood: Love with the Proper Stranger.