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Does Anybody Else Find "Splendor in the Grass" To Be More Than A Little Over The Top?


lydecker
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I admit it.  I find "Splendor in the Grass" to be based on a totally absurd premise.  Natalie Wood's character attempts suicide over the fact she thinks she can't have sex yet??  Ends up in a mental institution for the same reason?? Come on.  I know it's set in the 1920's, but all this angst because a couple of kids want to have sex but don't because their parents don't approve??  Heck, whose parents have ever approved of teenagers having sex?  Are we to assume all of those kids went crazy if they listened to Mom & Dad?? (And, one assumes that the majority paid absolutely no attention to what Mom & Dad said.)

Just seems like the silliest excuse for a film and lordy,  the "intensity" of the promo (Can we say "Splendor in the Grass" enough times?) is also completely over the top.

I dunno.  Seems like much ado about nothin' to me!

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Esquire's reviewer at the time agreed with your take:

I've never been in Kansas, but I suspect that parents there even way back in 1928 were not stupid to the point of villainy and that their children were not sexually frustrated to the point of lunacy...Kazan is "forthright" the way a butcher is forthright when he slaps down a steak for the customer's inspection. [He] won't give up anything that can be exploited.

The New Yorker:

"as phony a picture as I can remember seeing," explaining that Inge and Kazan "must know perfectly well that the young people whom they cause to go thrashing about in 'Splendor in the Grass' bear practically no relation to young people in real life

There is one take on it, but not much explored in the film, from what I recall (it's been awhile since I've seen it), but shaming from peers can certainly drive teens to desperation.  We've seen that in modern times with Internet shaming resulting in suicides.  That angle doesn't seem to be much in play in the film, though, IIRC.

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1 hour ago, lydecker said:

Come on.  I know it's set in the 1920's, but all this angst because a couple of kids want to have sex but don't because their parents don't approve??  Heck, whose parents have ever approved of teenagers having sex?  

Well on one hand they had parental disapproval, on the other they had a constant cautionary tale in Beatty's sister. 

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It’s deeper than that. It’s the rejection she feels, knowing that all her friends know that her boyfriend slept with another girl in her class. It destroyed her. When she tells him “I have no pride.” She is at that point of breaking, disregarding her mother and is now throwing herself at him. He rejects her. Rejection hurts, rejection can destroy people. It’s not all about sex, it’s deep love for the person you were dreaming of spending the rest of your life with.

It made less sense that Bud’s father jumps out of a window, over MONEY?? That’s okay though. Suicide over money.  

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Yup. Over the top and a bit overwrought. Despite that, I like it, though I wouldn't put it on any

best lists. I get confused by all the back and forth between Beatty and Wood in the first part of

the movie. They always seem to be getting close to making it but something always seems to

crop up. After I while I just give up. Why can't these kids just get it on? Millions of others have

without complication. I do feel sorry for Natalie Wood as she seems to be on the hysterical

side and needs help. It would have helped if these two kids had just smoked some grass. In the

end things work out, even if neither one can recover the brief happiness they had as teenagers.

I hope Beatty likes spaghetti as much as I do because I have a feeling he'll be eating a lot of it

for the next 30+ years.  

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