Saturday, June 05, 2010

TCM Star of the Month: Natalie Wood

The June Star of the Month on Turner Classic Movies is Natalie Wood.

TCM will be showing two dozen of Wood's movies on Monday evenings this month, beginning on June 7th.

The first evening's films focus on Natalie's work as a child and young teen. Some may wonder why some of Natalie's best childhood films, including MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) and THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947), are not being shown. They were released by 20th Century-Fox; while TCM does show some Fox films, they have to be specially licensed at an extra cost, so that seems to be the likely reason for their omission. TCM did show Fox's CHICKEN EVERY SUNDAY (1949) last Christmas so perhaps that one will turn up on TCM again at a future date.

The films being shown on June 7th include TOMORROW IS FOREVER (1946), with Wood's rather remarkable performance as a German war refugee adopted by Orson Welles, and NEVER A DULL MOMENT (1950), in which she and Gigi Perreau play Fred MacMurray's daughters, who must get used to their new mother (Irene Dunne).

THE GREEN PROMISE (1949), NO SAD SONGS FOR ME (1950), OUR VERY OWN (1950), THE STAR (1952), and THE SILVER CHALICE (1954) will also be shown that evening. OUR VERY OWN, a soapy melodrama in which teenager Ann Blyth learns she was adopted, was shown on TV regularly when I was growing up. Wood plays Blyth's little sister.

June 14th the focus shifts to Wood's work as a teenager and young adult. I'm looking forward to recording unfamiliar titles, including A CRY IN THE NIGHT (1956), THE GIRL HE LEFT BEHIND (1956), THE BURNING HILLS (1956), and KINGS GO FORTH (1958).

BOMBERS B-52 (1957), which I reviewed in April, also airs on the 14th, along with Wood's classics REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955) and SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS (1961). John Ford's THE SEARCHERS (1956), in which Wood plays a small but key role, is an American masterpiece which I feel is as important in our nation's cultural history as the greatest works of art or literature.

Monday, June 21st, focuses on the early '60s, including my favorite Wood role of her performances as an adult: Maria in WEST SIDE STORY (1961). Her singing was dubbed by Marni Nixon, but Wood was completely believable and touching as Maria, a Puerto Rican immigrant to New York.

The other films airing that night are GYPSY (1962), LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER (1964), SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL (1964), and CASH MCCALL (1960).

The final night of the tribute, June 28th, includes THE GREAT RACE (1965), a film my children particularly enjoy. The other movies that evening are INSIDE DAISY CLOVER (1965), PENELOPE (1966), and Wood's final film, BRAINSTORM (1983), which was being filmed when she died.

Natalie Wood died on November 29, 1981. I was home from college on Thanksgiving break, and I can still remember where I was sitting when I heard the shocking news that she had drowned. She was only 43 years old.

For those interested in learning more about Natalie Wood, Suzanne Finstad's 2002 book NATASHA: THE BIOGRAPHY OF NATALIE WOOD is a good place to start. I also enjoyed NATALIE: A MEMOIR BY HER SISTER by Lana Wood. (Lana can be seen playing Natalie as a child in THE SEARCHERS.) I hope to read PIECES OF MY HEART by Robert Wagner and Scott Eyman soon.

Wood titles available which I haven't yet read include Gavin Lambert's NATALIE WOOD: A LIFE and Martin Rulli's GOODBYE NATALIE, GOODBYE SPLENDOUR.

Wood fans may want to be aware that another of her childhood films, THE BRIDE WORE BOOTS (1946), was just released on DVD as part of the Barbara Stanwyck Collection. THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947) will be shown on Fox Movie Channel several times this summer, including June 15, 21, and 27; it's also available on a fine DVD, as is MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947). SCUDDA HOO! SCUDDA HAY! (1948) is also part of the movie rotation at Fox Movie Channel.

For other films airing on TCM in June, please visit this post.


Blogger monty said...

Laura, the only omission I see that TCM isn't showing is one film that I have been dying to see: Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. Oh well maybe next time.

10:54 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older