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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Movie Review: "This Property is Condemned" (1966)

Hi everyone,

Today's SMR is going to be one of my short reviews, which is basically when I take one of the reviews I wrote for Netflix before and use it for this. :) Lazy and I try to avoid doing it, but this is going to be one of those Sundays - this compensates, however, for the huge review of The Women (1939) I wrote last week, so I guess it all evens out. :D

I chose This Property is Condemned (1966), which I watched last spring. It's a Tennessee Williams tragic romance, and Valentine's Day being this week, I guess it's, you know, appropriate and all. Anyways, be warned, this is another one of those cases where just about nobody like the movie but me. Maybe we should call it "the Summertime (1956) condition." ;)

***


The poster: Interesting... nice sketches, though!

The plot:
When railroad official Owen Legate visits a small Depression-era town to shut down its rail yard, he begins a passionate affair with a local girl. The romance angers her domineering mother and ignites the town's economic resentments. [from Netflix]

The starring players:
  • Natalie Wood as Alva Starr
  • Robert Redford as Owen Legate
  • Charles Broson as J.J Nichols
  • Mary Badham as Willie Starr
The verdict:
★★★★
One of the first things that attracted me to this film is the two leads - Natalie Wood, obviously, and Robert Redford. It's a little hard to remember that Redford's career had just begun at the time, and he wasn't exactly a star yet (you'll notice in the opening that Natalie's name is above the title, but his is right below it); this is difficult to take not only because of the acclaimed actor he is today but because he carries the film right up there with the likes of Natalie, who had been in the movies since she was a little girl. The two play off great chemistry. 
The second reason to watch this is Mary Badham. She played Gregory Peck's daughter in the critic's favorite "To Kill a Mockingbird." She is absolutely PERFECT as Willie. You'll just fall in love with her character. It's disappointing to learn she was only a child actress and her career in films was limited. Too bad; she was a wonderful actress. 
And the storyline of this film is absolutely fascinating. It's great fun to see the world through the fabricated eyes of Alva Starr, who always has her head up in the clouds despite the crucial period in American history (the Great Depression) this movie takes place in. For example: in Alva's world, the sky is white, not blue. Wouldn't you want to see things this way? For 110 minutes, you can. Just watch this film. Yes, like many, I was disappointed with the ending. But don't let that stop you from viewing a great film. As you all know, Natalie is one of my favorites and I always list this movie and this character as favorites out of all her filmography. Starring in this Tennessee Williams creation was her way of following in the footsteps of her idol, Vivien Leigh, whom she idolized upon seeing her in 1951's A Streetcar Named Desire. 
Critics didn't like this movie in 1966 and people generally don't like this movie, but to me this is a great, underrated classic with two big Hollywood stars, and I strongly suggest you watch it!
The bottom line:
This movie is one of my favorites and a total underrated classic. I really think you ought to watch it!
Some photos:



Some trivia:
  • There is a scene in the film in which Natalie Wood's character gets drunk; Natalie had trouble getting the scene right so she got drunk for real.
  • In one of the swimming scenes, Natalie was so afraid of the dark water she had to swim in, one of her co-stars had to dive underwater and hold her legs.
A movie tidbit:
The whole movie is on Youtube, this is the first part.



***

That's it, and I'm sorry the review was so short, but it really is a fantastic movie and there's not much to complain about it! (For me and Natalie Wood, anyway - this was her favorite out of all the movies she made - the critics and Tennessee Williams really weren't a fan of this one...)

4 comments:

Dani said...

I got really excited when I saw you reviewed this movie for the week. It's one of my favorite movies ever and it has a special place in my heart, as this was the first Natalie film I watched. It was because of this movie that I fell in love with her (her acting, anyway) and became a little bit obsessed with her.
And I didn't realize people generally don't like it although the one time I showed "This property is condemned" to my little sister (probably the only person who enjoys watching classics with me), she said she disliked it because of the ending.
Also, nice bit of trivia about the drunk scene. I had no idea she drank for real.
And just one more thing: how dreamy is Robert Redford in this movie? He's so gorgeous I wanna die :)

KimWilson said...

Never seen this one, but I look both Redbord and Wood so I might catch it the next time it's on.

Rianna said...

I'm so glad you like this one too! It's likely one of my favorite Natalie movies. I love her character in this, and the setting, and I agree that the ending was... unnecessary, but it's Tennessee Williams so you do expect it. :) I love that bit of trivia about Natalie getting drunk for real.

And so true about Robert Redford!! :) Between him and Natalie Wood there's too much gorgeusness in this movie. If only they had gotten married and had kids. (I like him a lot better than that other Robert she married...)

Rianna said...

Yeah, give this one a try. Especially since you like Redford and Wood.

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