Los Angeles Times -
Authorities spurred a media storm by revisiting actress Natalie Wood's death, but their purpose is unclear. Actress Natalie Wood is shown in Los Angeles in 1979.
Natalie Wood. I have no idea what happened to her the night she died. But I do know she was a real movie star. There are a lot of actors who made some movies and a few who were famous. But Natalie Wood was a movie star.
And that's why she dominated the news cycle today.
Like Marylin Monroe or James Dean or any other huge star, she is news.
And this being her day, I thought I'd focus tonight on her. So I'm going to list my ten favorite Natalie Wood films.
1) "Miracle on 34th Street." In the 1947 film, Natalie played the little girl (Susan) who was raised by a practical mother who didn't believe in Santa Clause but Susan is convinced Santa exists. This remains a classic Christmas film. (I hated the 90s remake.)
2) "Rebel Without A Cause." This was Natalie's first adult film success. She plays Judy, a teenager who feels out of step and forms a mini-family with James Dean and Sal Mineo. She was great in this film and there are probably very few actresses who could have been plugged into her role and pulled it off.
3) "Sex and the Single Girl." I stream this one a lot on Netflix. Natalie Wood's a psychologist at an institute. Tony Curtis writes a nasty piece on her after her "Sex and the Single Girl" book is a huge hit. Among other things, he implies she's a virgin. Which makes many of her patients no longer want to see her. Tony Curtis wants to do an even more damaging article on her. So he sees her and has to invent problems. He steals the identity of his neighbor Henry Fonda and Fonda's problems with his wife Lauren Bacall. It's a very funny movie and my favorite scene is probably when Lauren Bacall is at Natalie's office and discovers that a number of women are saying they're married to her husband.
4) "Gypsy." She's Louise. Rosalind Russell plays Mama Rose. Bette Midler remade this as a TV film and it was nice but this is where it works best.
5) "Peeper" is a film she made with Michael Caine. I believe this is a classic waiting to be rethought. It's very funny and she and Michael Caine are great. A man hires Caine (a detective or "pepper") to find the daughter he gave up. Is it Natalie Wood? To find that out, a lot of bullets will be fired, some tense moments will take place but most of all you will laugh. It's cute too the way they have Caine read the credits at the start of the film.
6) "Love With The Proper Stranger." This film demonstrates that Natalie was so good as an actress and movie star because she was so believable -- especially with her co-stars. In this film, it's Steve McQueen (in his best performance, if you ask me) and you buy them as a couple that was supposed to be brief and go their own way but then a pregnancy comes along.
7) "West Side Story." One of the great musicals. In this one, she's Maria. And she's very touching and sincere in the role.
8) "The Great Race." This film finds her teamed up with Tony Curtis again. As well as Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk. And Vivian Vance (yes, Ethel from "I Love Lucy"). It's a chase film and she's among the best parts of the film. I also like Jack Lemmon in it and wish he'd played more villains like he does here. Her best scene is probably when she's getting a paper to hire her to cover the race.
9) "Splendor In The Grass." This is an amazing film. She stars with Warren Beatty. Sandy Dennis has a small role as one of their classmates. Natalie falls for Warren and they both have desires for each other but don't go all the way so she takes a bath and cuts her hair herself on the road to crazy.
10) "Bob, Carol, Ted & Alice." My personal favorite. I love this film and I love Natalie in it. She has a knowing smile in this and a knowing nature that makes her Alice really unlike any other character she played in other movies. Her husband is Bob (Robert Culp) and their best friends are another married couple Ted (Elliot Gould) and Alice (Dyan Cannon). Bob has an affair with a stewardess while he's out of town (that was the term when the film was made). He's home and he and Alice are having a nice moment when he starts to cry and tell her that he had an affair. He then accuses her of lying about not being angry. She's great in that scene. Again, she's bemused by the whole thing. They meet up with Alice and Ted. At the end of the night, as Alice and Ted are walking to their car, Carol darts out of her house to tell them that Bob had an affair (while grinning madly). Alice is enraged. She thought they were going to be told Carol was pregnant or something. Ted just wants to have sex with Alice. They'll get home and he'll want to do his exercise (running in place) and she'll complain the floor is shaking. They'll end up having sex just because she doesn't want him to leave. She'll go to her shrink and complain about Carol and Bob. And that's just the early part of the film. Natalie's really get in this.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"