Cinematheque sets Wood retrospective

L.A. theater to screen thesp's works Sept. 2-12

Natalie Wood will be the subject of an extensive retrospective at the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles from Sept. 2-12.

Screenings in the series — titled “An American Girl: The Sad-Eyed Splendor of Natalie Wood” — will include “West Side Story” (1961); Elia Kazan’s “Splendor in the Grass” (1961), with Warren Beatty; a rare print of “Love With the Proper Stranger” (1963), with Steve McQueen; the seldom-seen noir pic “A Cry in the Night” (1956); and “Gypsy” (1962), in which Wood lights up the screen as stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.

Also set is a restored print of “All the Fine Young Cannibals” (1960), the only movie Wood made with her husband, Robert Wagner; “Sex and the Single Girl” (1964), with Tony Curtis and Henry Fonda; a new print of “Kings Go Forth” (1958), with Frank Sinatra; “Inside Daisy Clover” (1965), with Robert Redford, Christopher Plummer and Ruth Gordon; “The Great Race” (1965), with Curtis and Jack Lemmon; and “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947), in which 9-year-old Wood stars with Maureen O’Hara.

Rounding out the program will be “This Property Is Condemned” (1966), Sydney Pollack’s take on a short story by Tennessee Williams, with Redford as the seductive stranger; and “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” (1969), Paul Mazursky’s satire of sexual hangups in America, with Dyan Cannon, Elliott Gould and Robert Culp.

The program also will include a showing of “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955), which made Wood, James Dean and Sal Mineo instant cultural icons. “I had a big crush on James Dean,” Wood once said. “I remember going with my schoolgirl friends to see ‘East of Eden’ like 15 times.”

The actress was once described by Orson Welles as “so good, she was terrifying.”

Born in San Francisco, Wood was discovered at age 5 by director Irving Pichel for “Happy Land,” and relentlessly groomed by her mother, Maria, for stardom. Wood became one of the few young stars to mature into an even-greater talent as an adult. But despite three Oscar nominations for best actress, her work was often under-rated by critics who mistook the almost effortless way she carried herself for inexperience.

“West Side Story” choreographer and co-director Jerome Robbins said Wood “has an enormously sensitive face — everything reflects in it immediately.”

Wood herself was ambivalent about her place in Hollywood.

“I don’t know if I wanted to be a star,” she said. “I just wanted to be great.”

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