Released in 1969, Me, Natalie is very much a film of the 1960’s, but dealing with female late adolescence. A subject nearly anyone who’s ever been there, can relate too in some way. Scripted by A. Martin Zweiback, from a story by Stanley Shapiro, Me, Natalie stars Oscar winner Patty Duke (The Valley of the Dolls) as Natalie Miller, a young woman, who has struggled with her looks since childhood.
Known as Clown Face in her Brooklyn neighborhood, she is promised by her mother (Nancy Marchand) that, not to worry, once she grows up, she’ll be beautiful. But at 18, she’s still gawky and her slightly bucked front teeth could use braces. (Duke wears a prosthetic nose, and teeth created by Dick Smith in the film.) As Natalie struggles with her identity, she takes heart from her favorite Uncle Harold (Martin Balsam, A Thousand Clowns) who assures her that boys look for exterior beauty, but men are looking for something much deeper. Natalie feels better about herself until Uncle Harold shows up to dinner engaged to a go-go dancer with a 40-inch bust.
After one too many humiliations, Natalie escapes to the Village “to find herself.” She gets a job as a cocktail waitress in a place called The Topless-Bottomless Club and meets an aspiring artist, played by James Farentino. He finds her attractive! Eventually the two become lovers. Invited to her best friend in high school’s wedding, Natalie is thrilled to learn she “had” to get married.
Returning home to Farentino’s apartment, Natalie makes the startling discovery that her lover is married with two children. As difficult as this situation is, Natalie response with a newfound confidence, she has finally discovered herself: Me, Natalie.
The film is uneven. In the hands of a lesser actress, the whole thing would be stereotypical, even ridiculous, but Patty Duke and Martin Balsam (Though he only appears in a few scenes) bring a realism and sensitivity to the material that makes the script better than it deserves to be.
Though Me, Natalie was not a big box office success, Patty Duke won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in A Leading Role: Musical or Comedy. The film also marks the screen debut of Al Pacino in a brief scene as “Tony,” a guy who “sort of dances with Natalie.
Cited as being from a “Brand new HD master” the image reveals a nice level of textures and filmic grain. Some weaker moments do pop up during some indoor moments, particularly at Natalie’s parents’ apartment. Aside from that, the image is fairly consistent, and colors are vibrant for the era. The 1080p presentation is presented at the 1.78:1 aspect ratio.
The DTS Master 2.0 channel mono track serves the film quite well. There are a few light effects, but this is very much a dialogue driven film. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout. The score by Henry Mancini (The Days of Wine and Roses) including “Natalie” and “We” performed by Rod McKuen are a bit flat but consistent.
English SDH subtitles are included.
There are no extras. Just a few trailers. None for this film.
Me, Natalie (1969)
Movie title: Me, Natalie
Duration: 111 min
Director(s): Fred Coe
Actor(s): Patty Duke, James Farentino, Martin Balsam , Elsa Lanchester, Salome Jens, Nancy Marchand
Genre: Comedy, Drama