Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Natalie Wood in Love with the Proper Stranger

Popular, beloved actress Natalie Wood received her third and last Oscar nomination for playing Angie Rossini, a pregnant Italian-American girl, who has to deal with responsibility and the father of her unborn child (Steve McQueen) in the dramedy movie Love with the Proper Stranger. I am quite sure (just like in the case of Shirley MacLaine) that Wood received many votes from the Academy as she was Oscarless and a huge star (and was expected to win for Splendor in the Grass). It did not turn out to be enough for her to win the Oscar, which people do not complain much about, except for maybe her biggest fans.

Love with the Proper Stranger is a lovely and enjoyable little movie by Robert Mulligan which cannot live up to his previous masterpiece (To Kill the Mockingbird), but it's still very entertaining. It received five nominations altoghether, which were justified in my opinion. The actors give decent, but not too brilliant performances. Steve McQueen was a good actor, but he was not given that much to do in this movie and he's miscast in my opinion as he does not seem very Italian, if you know what I mean. However, I must mention the actor, who plays Columbo, the clumsy young man courting Natalie.

Natalie, beautiful Natalie. What can I say about her performance here? She could give heavy dramatic performances and there were occasions where she was terribly miscast (West Side Story ahhhem), but one cannot deny her radiant personality, her beauty and above all, her great acting talent. She moves with such ease and naturality in front of the camera, I think she was born to become a movie star. With the character of Angie, she made very wise decisions in my opinion. Although it doesn't have many opportunities, Wood really lifted the not very complicated material. At the beginning of the movie I did not like her performance as it mostly consisted of Italian-American stereotypes and mannerisms, but in time she got me with her warmth and naturality.

Wood shows the most vulnerable and miserable side of this character, her insecurity is so heartbreaking in the scenes where she considers abortion or the scene where she's getting undressed, but breaks down eventually. Those scenes gave me creeps and they were quite probably the highlights of Natalie's whole performance, which turned out to be more lightweight in the end, which is not a big problem to tell the truth, but you have to expect that heavy drama could only be found towards the middle of it, where all the insecurites of Angie are revealed. For those sequences it is definitely worth watching this movie.

It's interesting that this year, two actresses were nominated for playing single and pregnant young girls. Leslie Caron showed the dark side of the situation with her minimal and breathtaking acting, Natalie Wood did not go that deep into the character's mind. I know that it's not fair to compare them for it is also the screenplay's and the director's fault, still I believe that Wood's character should have been a little deeper and probably more complicated.

This whole thing does not mean though, that I wasn't utterly charmed. Wood's charm always helps her performance a great deal, because she's so beautiful and radiant, that you can never take you eyes off her. A brilliant example for that is when she's expecting Steve McQueen for dinner and watches herself in the mirror, being worried and by this she perfectly shows the excitement of the real first date.

Wood dealt with the comedy parts well, although she was did not do wonders with the material (like MacLaine for example). However, I must tell that she was not very convincing in the dinner scene with Columbo's family, where she's very clumsy and almost damages everything, burns herself and so on. I think it was needless and useless in for the movie. When she talks in the same scene about love, it's not solved perfectly either and is probably her weakest part of her performance.

To sum up, I saw a performance again that I liked a lot during the movie, but found flaws in it when I was writing the review about it. I still liked it a lot and it certainly impressed me to a degree. But again it's not totally enough to totally satisfy me. Something's missing.

So now I've finished the reviews and now I'm thinking the whole race over. Only one place is already decided in my ranking, I don't really know how to rank the others, but time (and me too) will tell. If your interested in Love with the Proper Stranger just click here. I am waiting for opinions and predictions in comments! :)

1 comment:

Louis Morgan said...

Well I'll stick to my last predictions, but it seems hard to determine between who will get fourth and who will get fifth.