February 4, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES II, III & IV • Page 19 Remembering Natalie Wood and her career in films by Dennis Seuling A generation of moviegoers identifies Natalie Wood with Maria, the character she portrayed in the Academy Award-winning “West Side Story” (1961). Her film career dates to the 1940s, when she appeared as a child star in several films, the most famous being “The Miracle on 34th Street” (1947), when she was only nine. “The Natalie Wood Collection” continues the admirable policy by Warner Home Video of assembling movies featuring popular stars into box sets. The six feature films in this new collection are a mixed bag. “Bombers B-52” (1957) is a routine love story costarring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., as Wood’s love interest and Karl Malden as her career military father who objects to their romance. Unfortunately, Wood is overshadowed here by CinemaScope photography of jet planes doing intricate aerial maneuvers. “Cash McCall” (1960), heavy on soap opera, costars James Garner in the title role of a business tycoon who thrives on buying and selling companies for profit. McCall’s acquisition plan for Grant Austen’s (Dean Jagger) company is complicated when he learns that Austen’s daughter (Wood) is the same girl with whom he once had a summer romance. “Sex and the Single Girl” (1964) pairs Wood with Tony Curtis in a romantic comedy with supporting roles by Natalie Wood, whose movie career spanned four decades, is featured in a new DVD box set containing six films. Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall. Two show business films, “Gypsy” (1962) and “Inside Daisy Clover” (1965), go behind the scenes of vaudeville and motion pictures, respectively. In both, Wood starts out as an average girl who, because of looks and drive, blossoms into a star while learning that stardom has its dark downside. The best film in the set is “Splendor in the Grass” (1961). Written by William Inge (“Picnic”) and directed by Elia Kazan (“A Streetcar Named Desire,” “On the Waterfront”), it marked the screen debut of Warren Beatty. He and Wood portray teenage lovers filled with desire who are ripped apart by the repressive small-town mentality of 1920s Kansas. The chemistry between the two leads is excellent, and Wood turns in one of her best performances in a Romeo and Juliet tale where social class forms the barrier. The characters are all well faceted, and the supporting cast exceptional (Pat Hingle, Sandy Dennis, Barbara Loden). No film of the era illustrated better the conflict between sexual desire and repression. Its theme of rebellion against parental authority would find its way into films increasingly throughout the 1960s. “Love Comes Lately” (Kino International) is based on three short stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer that combine fiction, fantasy, and autobiography into a comedy/drama of the conflict between the male ego and the inevitable physical decline of age. Though in a longtime relationship with Reisel (Rhea Perlman), octogenarian author Max Kohn (Otto Tausig) uses his frequent book tours as opportunities to let erotic imagination take flight. But his fantasy flings with a needy widow (Caroline Aaron) and a Cuban housekeeper (Elizabeth Pena) give way to a real-life intimate encounter with a former student (Barbara Hershey). Finally, a fondly recalled but painful interlude with a freespirited woman (Tovah Feldsuh) challenges Max’s peace of mind even as it inspires him. Uniformly first-class performances give life to the characters here. Writer/director Jan Schutte portrays Singer alter-ego Max Kohn as a man who, even at his advanced age, has little difficulty attracting women. While he may seem at first a dirty old man on the prowl, the film provides a character study of this writer who creates as long as he is inspired, and is inspired as long as he creates. “Depth Charge” (Genius Entertainment) focuses on veteran naval Commander Krieg (Eric Roberts), who has commandeered his own submarine with the help of mercenaries. While demanding a ransom in exchange for sparing the lives of billions from a nuclear attack, Commander Kreig is unaware that saboteurs are bent on stopping him from carrying out his dangerous and destructive plan. On board are two of the submarine’s original crew and they will do anything they can to stop the madman. A standoff begins fathoms below sea level, with the fate of the world at stake. There are elements here of “The Caine Mutiny” and “The Hunt for Red October,” with lots of action and a fast pace. The special effects, however, are not convincing. “Black Swarm” (Genius Entertainment) is reminiscent of all those creepy bug sci-fi films of the 1950s. Exterminator Devin Hall knows unusual insect behavior, but he has never seen anything like the swarm of wasps that has (continued on Crossword page) Anthony Francos Ristorante & Pizzeria from Across vie the Mo r Theate State Line 375 State Highway 17 North, Mahwah Open 24 Hours, 7 Days Join Us For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner The Best Got Better! Diner - Restaurant 201-529-3353 Now Serving Cocktails, Espresso & Cappuccino Pizza • Pasta Chicken • Veal Seafood Salads• Appetizers Hot & Cold Sandwiches FREE DELIVERY TO ALL LOCAL AREAS (Ample on-site parking) • Open 7 Days • Major Credit Cards Accepted Full Menu at afpizza.com $ 00 128 E. Main St. • Ramsey • 201-236-8000 On $10.00 and over. With this coupon only. 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