Lana Wood: Audio Interview! (2016)

Hey everyone! Happy 2021 and do I have a little treat for you guys! Remember waaay back in 2016 (which seems like a lifetime ago) when I met Lana Wood at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge IL? (if you missed it or need a refresher read about it here!) Well as it turns out, during the interview portion of her visit, I, from the audience, was voice recording her interview on my old, old phone. After transferring to two phones (to keep it with me!), and then to my laptop, I have now converted the audio to be YouTube friendly and uploaded it just last month!

I only managed to get 14.5 minutes of what was nearly 45 minutes, but what I managed to get turned out not only to be clear and listenable, but also interesting and insightful. She begins by talking about John Wayne and talks about her experience on set of The Searchers. I am sorry I didn’t capture more, and it cuts off just before the Q and A. I personally DID ask Ms. Wood a question, but didn’t think about recording myself at the time!

Anyways, now, I am happy to share it with all of you! Happy listening and Happy 2021 everyone!

Love With the Proper Stranger Natalie Wood Blogathon 2018

118When it comes to Natalie Wood, I really believe she’s the Six Degrees actress of her day. She worked with so many famous names, that sometimes we as fans even forget the extent. I naturally adore Natalie as much as any other classic movie fan, but will admit it took me a couple years to fully appreciate her as an actress and performer- and I’m still discovering her range. I think the reason being is her films are not as instantly likable compared to others- but the good thing about that is it challenges you to view her films differently and really dig deep for those elements that hook you.

One of her films that I instantly took liking to, however, was Love with the Proper Stranger (1963). I honestly didn’t even know this film existed; I saw it on her filmography and sort of passed it off as not anything special. I didn’t think much of it at all until I read about the film in depth in the TCM/Manoah Bowman/Natasha Gregson Wagner collaborated coffee table book Natalie Wood: Reflections of a Legendary Life (a birthday gift from my parents in 2017) .

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Co-starring with Natalie is Mr. King of Cool, Steve McQueen, in his early career and in one of his first leading man roles. McQueen plays musician Rocky Papasano and Natalie plays Macy’s shop girl Angie Rossini. The film starts off by Angie tracking down Rocky by telling him she’s pregnant but all she wants is a name of a doctor- no strings attached. They don’t think they will see much of each other, but due to the expense of abortion, they end up having raise money get it. The pair bond and soon develops a mutual admiration for each other- and of course, neither admits it.

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Natalie in this role is just perfect, and as mentioned in the Natalie: Reflections book, this was the first time in her career she played a real adult woman who is free to make her own choices. If Rebel Without a Cause was her transition to teen/ young adult roles, this film was her move to full on adult woman roles. The character of Angie is making decisions about family, moving away from home, and whether or not to pursue romantic relationships. She is dealing with a dysfunctional family, being made fun of by her brothers (Herschel Bernardi and Harvey Lembeck) and pressured to marry a cook (Tom Bosely); and even has a bit of a romantic rival for McQueen’s affections played by Edie Adams. Her problems are all contemporary and relatable- and Natalie does a splendid job playing the role.

The most ground breaking scene of the film has to be the abortion scene, or should I say SPOILER almost abortion scene SPOILER. According to Natalie, this scene was entirely improvised by her and Steve, as all it said in the script was, “Get hysterical”. It’s absolutely emotional, and I would even argue it’s better than her Splendor in the Grass bathtub scene- I really can’t find words to describe it, all I can say is its one of those, “watch it to feel it scenes.” It truly rides the line of pro-choice or pro-life- without much being said at all and is immensely ahead of its time.

The other part I really admire about this movie is the chemistry between Natalie and Steve McQueen. Throughout the entire film, McQueen is his coy but alluring self- and you can slowly see Natalie falling for him against her will; she even tries to be aloof and standoffish to put him off, but that only attracts him more! The scene when they have dinner together towards the end is so charming and the dialogue makes you smile. If Steve McQueen showed up at your door and said “Man you look wild…. You look like a woman”, wouldn’t that make you swoon? (and note- I’m saying this as a casual fan of McQueen!)Image result for love with the proper stranger

Overall, I declare this film should make us all want the “bells and the banjos” in a romance; and say this film should be viewed when it is on, as TCM rarely airs it. It is available to own on DVD or Blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics, and I’m really thankful as they are the studio who rescued this movie and put it on disc format for the first time. Don’t miss out on this little hidden gem of a picture- click here to buy it from Kino Lorber, here to buy it from Amazon  or HERE to buy from TCM. For Natalie Wood: Reflections of  A Legendary Life (Great book!! It’s one of the best out there!) AMAZON Barnes and Noble or TCMshop

And to Miss Natalie Wood- Happiest of Birthdays in Heaven! The world still misses you, and generations of new fans have come to admire you-myself included! XOXO

NATALIE WOOD 80th Birthday Blogathon

SOURCES
Images- Kino Lorber Twitter, TCM , fanpop , and dvdbeaver

Natalie Wood: Reflections of  a Legendary life By Manoah Bowman, and Natasha Gregson Wagner

This Property Is Condemned- Actually Good!

A few months ago I hosted my Duo Double Feature Blogthon and I chose Robert Redford and Natalie Wood. However, I had only watched one (Inside Daisy Clover 1965) of their two films together, promising I’d write about their other (This Property is Condemned) when I saw it. Well this may be a month late from when I saw it, but here it is- This Property is Condemned (1966)

Honestly this is not a movie you watch for plot, per-say but one you watch for performances and good chemistry; kind of like Paris when it Sizzles (1964).

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With that being said- Yes, I agree when Robert Wagner cites this film as one of his favorite Natalie performances and I will say it does seem this is the better of the two Wood/Redford films. WARNING- This post contains spoilers- this is the type of movie that cannot be talked/ written about without spoiling certain scenes/plot points

Based on the one act play by Tennessee Williams, the story and plot is as follows: Told in a frame narrative by the character of Willie Starr (Mary Badham- Yes! that’s Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird) the movie is about Alva Starr (Natalie) – Mississippi small town girl longing for a big town life- she’s got a sister Willie and an embarrassing single Mother (Kate Reid) , who runs a boarding house. Redford plays Owen Legate- a drifter sort who works for the railroad- he and Alva meet when he comes to stay at the boarding house.

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Naturally the two fall for each other and there is everything working against them. What follows after they meet is a bit of randomness not super relevant to plot- but again- it’s Natalie and Redford being ultra adorable with each other so- who cares what is happening.

The major thing worth mentioning in terms of the story is JJ- Mrs Starr’s boyfriend- a creep – and Mr Johnson a old, rich railroad worker who clearly wants to go out with Alva (Mrs Starr approves- as she claims he will ‘look out’ and ‘take care’ of Alva and the family)

The plot gets going when Mr Johnson wants to take the family to Memphis with Alva protesting, as she would rather join Owen in New Orleans.

LITE Spoilers- Quite possibly the weirdest part of this movie is when after Alva is denied going with Owen, and after going out to the bar with her family, JJ and Mr Johnson- she marries JJ. I think you, as the viewer, can guess after she marries, she runs away from JJ and joins Owen in NOLA.

MAJOR SPOILERS- AS IN THE ENDING OF THE MOVIE SPOILERS But it’s the ending that is the most crazy- Within the last ten-ish minutes of the movie, it is pure Natalie and Robert bliss- they are so happy and cute, they are in New Orleans- they are so wonderful- it’s everything you want between two characters who you are rooting to be together for-  Owen even proposes marriage to Alva and offers they can send for Willie once they are settled in Chicago- H o w e v e r- in the classic twist, the bliss does not last, as Alva’s mother shows up, having tracked her down, and spills that Alva is married to JJ.

Now this is where the twist gets turned on its ear- The scene continues with Redford’s character doing the whole- “Alva, she’s lying; tell me she’s lying!” bit- and Alva does run off, into the rain crying- but we never see the aftermath of the fallout–  it ends with Alva running off and Bam!!! cut straight back to Willie  where the movie began- and we hearnot see the fate of Alva – that she caught tuberculosis and died.

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Abrupt- yes- shocking- yes BUT in a weird sort of way- it’s oddly satisfying because you don’t have to deal with the angst of Alva and Owen’s breakup and probably eventual reconciliation, what you remember is the happiness they had- (yes she runs out on him but it’s so fast paced you don’t have time to think about it before the film ends)

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Overall, my personal feeling is this film is not that bad; I thought it would be way worse- it’s watchable and given Natalie’s overall filmography- this one is one of her better films.  If this movie was with other leads and a subpar director- I think it would have failed miserably- but with names like Wood, Redford and Pollack attached- it’s automatically better than average. My advice is to go in with an open mind, as I hesitated to believe people when they said this movie was actually good.

Image result for this property is condemned In terms of watching the performances (as I mentioned above) I simply adore Nat with Bob Redford and again I’ll say- I wish they made another movie together! Mr. Redford is soo handsome in this role and Natalie does a great job playing a southern bell (an unlikely role- given her Eastern European background).

I’m not sure when it will be on TCM next, or even when it will be out on DVD/ Blu-Ray- but if you can give this a chance- Especially if you like Natalie!