Saturday, 15 November 2014

This Property is Condemned (1966)

Alva Starr (Natalie Wood) is the town flirt, however underneath her coquettish exterior she is broken, and longing to escape the small town of Dodson. Her mother (Kate Reid) uses her for her own gains, forcing her on older men for money, and then accusing Alva of being selfish when she refuses.
Everything changes for Alva when she meets Owen (Robert Redford), but the cruelty of those around them destroys their chance of happiness.

So many of Natalie's films are underrated and hard to find! When This Property is Condemned was first released it didn't do very well in the eyes of the critics, yet both Natalie and Robert Redford are exceptional. Natalie gives Alva a multi faceted personality, Alva's flirtatiousness really masks her true feelings, her desperation to escape, and her mothers role in her man obsessed world. What Alva is really looking for is someone to truly love and take care of her (unlike her much idealised father who ran out on them). The rest of the cast are also well suited to their roles, Mary Badham (who is best remembered for her role as Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird) is very believable as a tough, worldly young girl, who is also strangely innocent. The final shot of her on the railway tracks is haunting.

The film was based on a one act play by Tennessee Williams, however it was greatly expanded in the film version. In the original play Willie and the boy she befriends at the beginning of the film, are the only two characters. Willie tells her sisters story, but their is no Owen. Apparently Williams disliked the film version, but it was one of Natalie's favourite roles.

I think this is definitely an underrated film, Natalie is fantastic, but the ending will break your heart!


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