The Image Maker
12 July 2009
Almost everything about this film ... from the casting and acting, to the plot, to the musical numbers, to the costumes and hairstyles ... seems fake.

Natalie Wood, 27 years old, plays 15-year old Daisy Clover, a spunky tomboy/brat/beach bum extraordinaire. Daisy, who lives with her eccentric elderly mom, played by Ruth Gordon, in a shabby wooden trailer near the beach in Southern California, has Hollywood stars in her eyes. And when Raymond Swan (Christopher Plummer), head of The Swan Studio comes calling, Daisy jumps at the chance to be a movie star.

She leaves her mom and lets Swan remake her into America's ideal of a teenage girl. In effect, Swan Studio is Daisy's image maker. Even though surrounded by cold-blooded snakes in the movie business, Daisy is such a brat that she doesn't elicit much sympathy from me. But then I found little interest in any of the characters.

With the exception of Daisy's mom, the characters lack depth of emotion. Maybe that's the point ... Hollywood is filled with emotionally empty people. They're all image, no substance.

Set in the 1930s, the film has visuals that look straight out of the 1960s, especially relative to hairstyles and costumes. The musical numbers, though well executed, trend toward upbeat, bubble gum optimism, which is inconsistent with the film's overall thematic cynicism. I know what they're driving at with these musical numbers. But the abrupt tonal shift is jarring.

Perhaps the worst element of this film is Natalie Wood's performance. She seriously overacts. It's a performance not unlike that of Patty Duke, in "Valley Of The Dolls" (1967).

"Inside Daisy Clover" is filmed in color. It would have been more realistic had it been filmed in 1930s B&W. And the cinematography projects an annoying wide screen image.

The only thing I liked about this film is the presence of the always interesting, and unique, Ruth Gordon. Otherwise, this film is forgettable.
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