Blu-ray Review: Inside Daisy Clover

Inside Daisy Clover, a fictional tale about a child star in the 1930’s, stars Natalie Wood as Daisy Clover. A fifteen-year-old tomboy, she lives with her senile mother Lucile (Ruth Gordon) on the beach, selling forged autographed pictures of movie stars to passerby. Expressive and quick to anger, Daisy smokes cigarettes, writes graffiti, and uses her fists to solve problems. Tired of eking out a living along the boardwalk and with dreams of being a singer, Daisy cuts a homemade record and submits it to Swan Studio, who have put out a call looking for new talent. Daisy’s life is changed forever.

Daisy is whisked off to the movie studio in a black limousine. Daisy makes a screen test, and the head of the studio, Raymond Swan (Christopher Plummer), immediately signs her to a contract. With Lucile suffering from the early stages of dementia, Daisy’s self-serving older sister Gloria (Betty Harford) commits her to a seven-year deal. Daisy becomes a star almost overnight, but is almost as quickly disillusioned, the magic of Hollywood having been exposed as fraudulent as the autographs she used to sell.

Raymond Swan and his wife Melora (Katharine Bard) manipulate her at every turn to protect her burgeoning career. Daisy’s mother committed to a mental institution but puts out the story that she is dead. She may not be a warm woman, but Daisy adores her mother and is understandably angry when Swan tells Daisy she can no longer visit her, though he eventually relents. Lucile’s death is a catalyst for Daisy’s nervous breakdown later in the the film.

On the surface, Robert Redford’s Wade Lewis is a typical matinee idol of the day. Good looking and charming. In reality, he was a victim of an era that forced him to hide who he really was. He wines and dines Daisy, charming her into marrying him. It’s only after they’re married that Daisy learns the truth: Wade is gay, and their marriage is meant to protect that fact. In a nod to the production code, falling into love affairs with both sexes as the spirit moves him.

Made by the director/producer team of Robert Mulligan and Alan J. Pakula, Gavin Lambert adapted his own novel for the screen. Daisy’s life in the movies conjures up memories of past child stars; her nickname, “America’s Little Valentine” is reminiscent of Mary Pickford’s, “America’s Sweetheart.” Used, abused and discarded by men (not unlike any number of women in Hollywood), one can’t help but think of Marilyn Monroe who died and in 1962, at age 36, just three years before this film was released.

At 27, Wood was too old to play a fifteen-year-old (Patty Duke might have been a better choice), but her strong performance almost makes you forget the issue. Jackie Ward dubs most of Natalie’s singing, though that is Natalie voice in the beginning lines of her screen test version of “You’re Gonna Here From Me.” That scene is an energetic highpoint; different from most of the rest of the picture. Lacking any sense of wonderment about how films are put together, Inside Daisy Clover is one of the more brutal examinations of Hollywood’s inner workings. Musical numbers aside, the studio is dark and empty. It’s joyless, bordering on sad.

Roddy McDowall has a role as Raymond Swan’s assistant, always pompous toward those who paid his salary. But it’s Ruth Gordon who steals every scene she’s in, an earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Natalie Wood was passed over for an Oscar nomination, but did earn a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actress – Musical/Comedy.

The Panavision theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 has been faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer. The film looks beautiful throughout, with vibrant colors and strong details. The Oscar nominated costumes of Edith Head and Bill Thomas are detailed and bold. Facial features look sharp and pleasing. Dust, dirt, or scratches aren’t apparent. Warner Archive has delivered another superior transfer.

The DTS-HD Master 2.0 audio has a surprising amount of fidelity. Dialogue has been expertly recorded, melded perfectly with Andre and Dory Previn’s peppy songs and score. Sound effects punctuate scenes whenever necessary. There are no age-related hisses, pops, or crackles.

English SDH subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • War and Pieces (SD, 6:41) A Road Runner cartoon.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3:32)


Inside Daisy Clover (1965)
Inside Daisy Clover

Movie title: Inside Daisy Clover

Country: USA

Duration: 128 min

Director(s): Alan J. Pakula

Actor(s): Natalie Wood, Christopher Plummer, Robert Redford, Ruth Gordon, Roddy McDowall , Harold Gould

Genre: Drama

  • Movie
    (3.5)
  • Video
    (4.5)
  • Audio
    (4.5)
  • Extras
    (1)
3.4

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